Even though it's been out for more than two years, we hadn't heard about the GTR Tech GT3 until earlier today, via the blog of PC business-type Ed Borden. Now that we know about the trim GT3, we're struck by how appropriate such an enclosure seems to today's fascination with pared-down desktop design.
In his blog, Ed compares the virtues of the GT3 with other smaller gaming PCs, in particular with HP's recent Firebird 800-series gaming desktop. That system uses a customized motherboard and laptop-style MXM graphics cards. Ed also draws a comparison to systems like Falcon Northwest's FragBox 2, which require smaller microATX motherboards that generally sacrifice expansion room for space savings. Unlike either of those systems, the GT3 support both full-size ATX motherboards, as well as standard dual-slot graphics cards.
We don't want to sell either the FragBox 2 or the Firebird short. We recently reviewed a FragBox 2 with a pair of doublewide 3D cards and a 1,000 watt power supply jammed inside, so using a microATX doesn't automatically make a desktop underpowered. We also have to credit the Firebird's power efficiency and its visual appeal. Unlike the otherwise attractive GT3, the Firebird doesn't have a giant, electric blue "GT3" emblazoned across its front panel.
By offering the DIY system-building crowd a unique, slim chassis on which to build a competent gaming desktop, GTR Tech seemingly anticipated HP's own Firebird design. We also agree with Ed's assessment that the GT3 has a major advantage over the Firebird in that it offers complete user upgradeability. You can't upgrade the Firebird's graphics cards, for example.
We disagree, however, with Ed's suggestion that the GT3 leaves the Firebird with no advantages. Even if HP's gaming system isn't the fastest (or the most affordable) 3D gaming box around, its performance relative to its power consumption is an impressive technical feat. We're also glad to hear that the GTR Tech is apparently working on an updated version of the chassis. We'd love to see a boutique PC vendor use the GT3 chassis to compete with the Firebird on both performance and power consumption.
If you'd like to buy the GT3, it currently costs $189 direct from GTR Tech. Be sure to read GTR Tech's list of GT3-compatible motherboards before diving in.