The R-3 Corona is extremely diminutive, it is over 10cm shorter than some of the smallest ATX cases. It is also very lightweight and easy to carry around. We received the white version of the case but GMC offers the R-3 in many colours.
Obviously the small size of the R-3 limits the amount of hardware you can install. Although any ATX PSU and motherboard will fit, the design of the front panel restricts the installation of more than a single optical drive and two internal HDDs.
The piano white front panel is the main attraction of the R-3. The plastic panel is slightly reflective and it doesn’t get dirty easily. The marvelous paint job and understated design I personally find very appealing.
You will notice that there are no visible 5.25” or 3.5” bays to be found on the front panel of the R-3. It supports only a single optical device which is mounted perpendicularly behind the top section. The tray of the optical disk drive can be opened by an oversized switch at the side and goes down vertically, in parallel with the faceplate. There are also two USB connectors and audio headphone/microphone connectors at the bottom section, but they will not obstruct the tray of the optical device. When the system is powered on, a blue halo appears around the GMC logo at the top side of the faceplate, and the power button lights up blue as well.
The left side panel is perforated above the PCIe slot to aid the cooling of the installed display card and a funnel can be found above the CPU area for the cooler to draw fresh air from the outside of the case. You may need to remove the funnel if you want to install a tower cooler, or you could replace it with an 80mm fan (although it’s position will not aid the thermal performance of the case by much).
The right side panel is also perforated over the HDD cage, allowing the drives to receive some additional cooling. The left side panel is held in place with thumbscrews and it is the only panel which can be removed.
The interior appears to be roomy considering the compact nature of the case. There is a single 80mm exhaust fan present at the rear of the case and there are slots for another 80mm exhaust fan to be mounted above it, as well as for another 80mm intake fan to be mounted at the bottom. Although 120mm fans are far superior when it comes to case cooling, they are too large for the design of the chassis.
The HDD drive cage is also placed perpendicularly at the front top part of the case. Only two HDDs will fit, which should cover the requirements for the majority of users. The 3.5” drives do not receive active cooling from fans, however as only a maximum of two can be fitted this should cause no problem.
Installing a full ATX system inside is not difficult. As you can see from the above picture, the R-3 Corona takes our Core 2 Duo system, two HDDs, a 9600GT card and a normal ATX PSU without any problems. However the short design of the case does not allow cards longer than 25.5cm (10”) to be installed. This omits many high end cards including the latest Nvidia 9800GTX and 9800GX2.
There was a time a few years ago that Hi-Fi/AMP like HTPC cases were everywhere. That has changed a bit in recent times due to some excellent m-ATX boards allowing builds in compact chassis however there is still something about the home theatre component style of design which can be appealing...