The GMC Noblesse K-2 Ebony looks pretty much like a quality midi tower ATX case. The size is equivalent to most other midi tower cases, measuring 200mm wide, 470mm deep and 440mm high. Despite its name the K-2 Ebony is not an entirely black case; only the front panel is sprayed a highly reflective piano black colour and it has a silver frame, while the chassis is sprayed a gunmetal grey colour.
In order to substantially increase the aesthetics of the product the faceplate also covers the two ODD slots. Two ODD slots should be more than enough for a HTPC system. The slot beneath the two ODD drives is occupied by the iMon VFD display.
The middle part of the faceplate is literally swamped with buttons, all of which light up red when the system is powered on. The middle circular knob is the power button and it is encircled by a blue ring when the system is powered on. The reset button can be seen at the lower left side of the area and the button which turns off the faceplate lights is right above it. The rest of the buttons serve as media and application shortcuts. Right beneath the buttons is a door hiding a card reader and can be opened by softly pressing the button next to it.
Moving towards the bottom of the case, a blue LCD screen can be seen beneath the memory card reader’s door. The LCD indicates any HDD activity, the set percentage of the fans speed and the internal temperature of the system. The temperature reading comes from a simple wire thermal sensor which you can attach to anything you like.
Beneath the LCD screen you will find more buttons which can be used to control the speed of the fans or basic system buttons, such as the arrow and enter keys. You won’t be able to do much with them but you will be able to navigate in a simple media centre application.
At the bottom end of the faceplate GMC placed another door hiding the front I/O ports. This door doesn’t have a button like the one hiding the card reader, you push on it and it will open. There are four USB ports, front audio jacks and a firewire port behind this small door. There is no eSATA port which is a shame.
Behind the smoked plastic at the front of the case and right beneath the ODD bays, GMC have positioned the iMon VFD display. This (16 chars x 2 lines) display can be programmed via software to display virtually anything you like; the time and date, the weather forecast, the news, your system data or even your unread e-mails. It can also display media information and a graphic equalizer if you are using a popular player, like Windows Media Player or Winamp. The iMon software offers nearly endless possibilities.
While the faceplate is crowded with buttons and displays, the rest of the chassis is not nearly as cluttered. The entire case is made out of SECC steel which is a durable, yet relatively heavy material. An air intake funnel is present at the left side panel, but no fan. The funnel serves as a source of fresh air for the CPU heatsink. Removing the funnel will allow the installation of another intake fan, which will help to cool a powerful processor. The rear of the case is rather run of the mill with only the honeycomb design fan guard of the exhaust fan present. A set of thumbscrews secures each of the side panels into position.
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...