For most folks who have been working with computers for a while, the name In Win is a familiar one. These folks have been around since 1986 and have a product line that includes power supplies, digital storage devices and both server and consumer class system enclosures.
Today's piece will be in the realm of that last category, a consumer class enclosure that is aimed directly at the enthusiast. While this is becoming a crowded market segment, many manufacturers are looking for ways to let their own product shine in this arena, and In Win has done just that.
With looks based off the design concept of the B2 Stealth Bomber, this B2 enclosure has some features that are not commonplace. The big question, though, is whether it can handle the rigors of a high-end system and manage to not only give it a good home, but to do so in a cool manner.
Read on as we delve deeper into the B2 and look at both its features and worthiness as a potential upgrade for your system.
We begin our tour of the B2 Stealth Bomber by noting the lack of a door on the front bezel. The bezel is made of plastic like many other enclosures, but there is not a door in the normal sense that we have come to expect. As implied by the name of this case, stealth is the key. Let's take a closer look...
Just under the area in which you think there should be an opening of some sort you will find this little inset. The triangle in the center is obviously a power button and the LED lighting to the right allows you to see when your system is powered and when the hard drive is working. The red button to the left, however, is where you get to make something very interesting take place; namely allow the motor installed in this case to lift the front bezel to a position that opened up your drive bays. Yes, you heard correctly, there is a small motor that opens up the front of the case so you can access your optical drives and externally accessible 3.5" devices.
Above is what you get when you have activated the button and allowed the motor to lift the front panel. This adds a lot to the "cool factor" of this enclosure already. For those concerned about the raising of this panel with regards to height, there should be little issue involved since the overall height increases only a small amount when it is being lifted. Unless you are running very cramped quarters for your enclosure, you shouldn't have any trouble.
Looking under the hood we see a full compliment of four optical drive bays and a pair of externally accessible 3.5" bays. This should be plenty of room for the vast majority of us and will likely give us enough room to install our current devices and still have room left for future upgrades.
Oh, and in the event you need to get under the panel when you don't have any power hooked up to the box, rest assured that it is a simple matter of moving to the left side of the case and tilting the "Rescue" button upward. This unlocks the latching mechanism and allows you to easily lift the front panel to its open position.
Located just a bit under the Rescue button you will find a small door that closes to hide away the I/O ports that are accessed from the front. This allows you to maintain a sleek external appearance when those ports are not in use.
Included with the B2 are a pair of USB 2.0 ports, a IEEE1394 Firewire port, the customary speaker/headphone and mic ports, and a pair of e-SATA ports. This is a good deal more than most similar enclosures offer and the addition of e-SATA from the front is very nice. More and more external hard drives are offering this type of connectivity and not having to use an add-on PCI card is nice.
The side panel does not include a window, but it does offer a very unique appearance that will set your rig off at your next LAN party. It is very obvious where the design came from, with the triangular wing design of the actual Stealth Bomber used by the US military. It has made news all over the world and will be readily identifiable by your buddies.
Taking a closer look at the design shows the entire contoured area under the wing consists of venting panels that help in the cooling of your system. We'll dig a little deeper into this in just a bit.
On the back edge of the side panels you will find a couple of these little clips. If you think that it looks to be hinged in some manner, you would be correct. There are two small prongs that lock onto the back edge and keep your side panel firmly in place. Pull outward until the locking clip releases and you can easily remove the panel without the use of any tools. You also will not have to worry about thumb screws being attached too tightly when you need to get inside your box.
Moving to the back panel shows a pretty basic setup, but also shows a 120mm fan that handles the exhaust needs of the B2. The power supply is offset a bit to allow room for two holes that let you run an external water cooling solution. Both holes are protected by rubber grommets and measure in at 7/8" in diameter. This will easily allow for the use of 3/4" OD tubing.
Now we will get rid of that side panel and see what we have on the inside of the enclosure.
Once we get past that side panel the first thing we notice is what In Win refers to as a "VGA Turbo Cooling System", which is in essence a large wind tunnel complete with a pair of 80mm fans covering the bottom area of the side opening. These fans are positioned over the area of the graphics cards and will force cool air over these heat-producing components. The entire arm assembly hinges downward to the top of your work area (or floor) to allow enough space for system installation.
Before getting more involved with the wind tunnel device, I thought it important to take note of something; filtration. This is the interior of the primary side panel and there are two areas that allow incoming air to enter the enclosure, both of which are filtered. The top port has a sliding filter that can be removed for cleaning and the bottom port has a mesh material cover that can be snapped out for cleaning. It is good to see that In Win realizes the importance of trying to keep dirt and dust from getting inside our system.
The top port also has a telescoping funnel that can be extended downward and also moves side to side. This funnel will sit in the approximate area of your processor. For those utilizing larger aftermarket coolers, this can be removed so that it does not interfere with your processor cooler.
All right then, let's get back to business.
While the front bezel is made of plastic, the frame of this enclosure is made of steel. Overall measurements come in at 435mm x 235mm x 525mm, or roughly 17" x 9.5" x 21" for those who are metrically challenged.
Flipping the wind tunnel down gives a little better look at the fans used for cooling. These fans are each 80mm x 25mm and are labeled as ceramic fans. This means that you can attain decent fan speeds without excess noise. The fans are held in by plastic clips and are easily removed, so if you decide to run something a bit more potent, the mounts are set to allow use of any standard 80x25 fan.
As I noted above, this is basically a wind tunnel (yes, I know that the longer marketing name is more impressive, but I will stick with a more literal interpretation for the moment). Cool air is brought in from the side wing of the enclosure, and any misdirected air coming from the front will also follow this device and be added to the mix. It is a cooling device that some like and others do not, but I have found that it works reasonably well. You just have to be willing to rotate the assembly downward when you do a lot of internal maintenance or component replacement.
Ah, here is an interesting trick. The front-most 80mm fan can be rotated 90 degrees to allow for enhanced cooling of the hard drive bay. This is something that I have not seen before and is an intriguing idea. I would note, however, that if you decide to use it in this manner that you reverse the fan that rotates. While oriented for intake from the side panel, the rotation will cause this fan to blow air into your hard drive bay. Since there is fan already in place bring cool air from the front through the drive cage, allowing this fan to also blow inward from the opposite direction would totally ruin your system's airflow. Here is what it looks like in this inverted position.
One item of note: Those using long video cards or sound cards may have trouble using the fan in this flipped orientation. I will go into this in more detail when we install a system, but keep it in mind.
The optical drive bay is pretty standard fare and uses a tool free rail system to keep your drives in place. The plastic tray you see in the bottom bay can be removed simply by popping the front bezel and sliding it out. If you do not need the bottom bay, you can leave the rail tray in place and it will not obstruct airflow at all.
One item of note here; only the top two optical drive bays allow for use of the rail system. If you have more than two devices you will have to resort to the old fashioned way of mounting it, screws.
Directly below your optical drive bays you will find two externally accessible 3.5" bays, both of which allow use of the drive rail system. Like most system enclosures, if you have no need for external devices, you can fill these spaces with extra hard drives, but they will not be actively cooled in this location.
Following the drive tower to the base shows enough space for 4 hard drives. Again, the tool free rail system is used and drive installation is a breeze. Also of note is that this cage is actively cooled by another ceramic fan, this one measuring 120mm x 25mm. The bays are also oriented toward the side of the case to allow you easy access to your drives if necessary. This active cooling will allow your hard drives to run at speed with no fear of burning out, even the newer models with high spindle speeds.
We all know by now that I tend to be harsh on manufacturers who don't filter all incoming air ports, so rest assured that I checked into this as well. If you will look toward the front edge of the drive cage you will note a yellow tab. This is the lock that allows you to rotate the drive cage enough to let you get at the fan... and the filter.
Simply slide the fan assembly out and you can easily clean the filter element used here. There are a total of 3 intake fans used in the B2 Stealth Bomber and all are filtered. Well Done!
In Win has also decided to utilize a tool free mechanism for keeping those peripherals in place. Simply rotate the locking device away from the card being added, install the card, and rotate it back into place until you hear it click lightly into the locked position. As with most retention devices of this type, make sure you have the card properly lined up in the slot to avoid damaging the rotating clip. I have learned this the hard way in the past and always double check now. Feel free to learn from my mistakes.
Oh, and don't worry about the lack of blank plates for the empty slots. There are blanks that come with the screws and assorted hardware that is inside the case when you purchase it.
There comes a time when a product manufacturer finally gets it. My congratulations go out to the design team at In Win for figuring out that a majority of consumers (also known as customers) have little use for that locking hasp on the back of most cases. While minor in the overall scheme of things, this little tab has bloodied my knuckles more times than I can count. However, since some buyers will have a need for a method of locking the box, something has to be done to satisfy both user groups.
Above you can see the result of a little thought and ingenuity. That little hasp can now be rotated out of the way with no edges sticking out from either direction. Those who have a need for the ability to like the side panel can make use of it, while the rest of use can get that little bugger out of the way. Shown above is the tab in a position about halfway through its rotation cycle.
Now that we've gone into a rather in depth examination of this case, it is time to install a system and see how it handles the load.
While the B2 is not exactly a small enclosure, it is tight enough that a removable motherboard tray would be really nice. Consider where the headers are located that attach to the front panel controls, internal speaker and power button and you will note that folks with gorilla hands will have a challenge. Not a deal breaker, but it would have been a nice thought to include this.
The installed board shown above is a full sized ATX variety and it fit with no issues. While the room between the SATA ports and the hard drive cage isn't really plentiful, there is enough space to allow you to get all of your cables installed with little issue. There are little cubby holes located beneath the hard drive bays and beside the FDD bays, so you can still handle the cable management aspect of your installation.
The initial build used for the B2 consisted of a X1900XTX video board, which is a rather large board. No issues were noted with regards to either the length or height of the board when the fans are positioned in their default orientations. Try to rotate the side fan 90 degrees, however, resulted in a problem.
Namely, it didn't fit. This is the issue I mentioned earlier and will affect all who have a long video or sound board. You simply will not be able to make use of the extra cooling for your hard drive cage if you are using a long peripheral.
Retention of your peripheral devices is easily handled with the tool free clips. As shown here, even if you have a board that is higher than the bracket, the clip will sit to the side of the PCB allowing it to be firmly mounted.
As noted earlier, most of the drives you will install will make use of a rail system. Each rail is made from a combination of plastic and rubber. The primary rigid portion of the rail is plastic and this is where the two metal pins and metal securing tabs are mounted. On each side of this rigid rail is a piece of rubber, one that sits against the drive and the other that sits against the metal cage that the drive will be installed into. This will effectively dampen the vibration and noise that could be produced when installing a metal drive into a metal cage.
To use the rail system, simply place the rail against the side of the device and make sure the pins are seated in the mounting holes. From there you need only slide the drive into its appropriate drive bay until it clicks into place. From here, the drive will not move and will not make a bunch of noise, even when it spins up.
Above is a hard drive that has been installed into the bottom drive cage. Hard drives will be installed internally while optical and floppy drives will be installed from the front. This means you will need to remove the front bezel to install them, but this is not a big task and is easily accomplished.
When I first saw the In Win B2 Stealth Bomber enclosure I was intrigued. After all, the Stealth series of jets are some of the premiere aircraft on the face of the planet, so a case that is based from this should be pretty cool. Once I got to play with it and saw the features, the cool factor increased significantly. It isn't every day that you get to see a system enclosure that has a motorized front panel that opens at the touch of a button, after all.
After getting over the initial rush of this I began to delve deeper into the feature set of the B2 and was still impressed. Overall aesthetics are great and functionality runs toward the high end of the spectrum. It manages to use a lot of tool free concepts, has plenty of room for most power users, but still maintains a mid tower size.
I was a little disappointed with the lack of a removable motherboard tray and the issue with the side fan being unable to rotate with long boards installed, but beyond this the overall result from this product is that it is certainly worthy of consideration for an enthusiast build. Cooling is plentiful and well designed and all incoming air ports are properly filtered. I also like the addition of a pair of e-SATA ports on the front I/O panel. This shows that In Win is doing a little forward thinking and preparing for the upgrades you will likely make in the future.
Pricing for the B2 runs in the vicinity of $130US, but I also noted some of the online etailers offering $30 rebates at the time of this writing. While this won't be the cheapest case you will look at, it is priced well within the norm for enclosures with similar features, and those others won't look nearly as cool.
Oh, and something I almost forgot... For those who really like the concept of fighter planes, In Win has also included something to bring back those glorious days of building models. What could I possibly mean? This.
So, final thoughts? Try it, you'll like it!
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