The blackness engulfs us
Taiwan is home to a lot of technology companies and manufacturing plants, with most of the big names having a sizeable piece of Taiwan real-estate. IN WIN is no exception to this and is one of the native Taiwan companies who are producing some mighty fine products this year.
We are fortunate to have one of their ITX cases for review today, the BM650 Mini-ITX Chassis in stylish piano black.
As can be seen from the front panel, the case sports headphone, mic and USB ports; while these are key ports to have on the front of the case, it would be a bit nicer to have them behind a small flush door so that the appearance of the case front is not cluttered. That being said, IN WIN has done a fantastic job to ensure that the gloss plastic front flows nicely together.
The case is designed to be oriented either horizontally or vertically, depending on your requirements. Small rubber feet are supplied to attach on both sides so that you don't scratch your desk and to help reduce vibration noise from the case resonating through it.
Bullseyes and T16's
From the top we can see the exhaust port (no bigger than a womprat I'm informed) where the case fan and the power supply fan can dump their heat.
Getting a shot of the back now; there is some grating above the rear I/O plane to allow cool air to be drawn into the case via the CPU fan. Also, there are two screws to secure the CD-ROM tray, a screw to secure the HDD tray and two half height PCI slots for your upgrade needs.
We can also see that this model comes equipped with a 3-pin molex for the internal power supply, but there is also a blanking hole for mounting either a WiFi aerial or housing a laptop style power connector most commonly used by picoPSU devices.
Time to pop-the-top and get a peek at the guts of this case. Removing the two screws at the back and sliding the hood off, we can feel that this is made from some nice weight steel that won't dent too easily. The CD-ROM cage is laid bare for us now, acting as a brace support across the case.
Don't stop 'till you pop!
Popping the front off, there is a small unit which holds the power and reset buttons along with the indication LEDs. The USB and 3.5mm ports are extruded to make them flush with the front of the case, again using nice solid steel bracketing.
We can also see that the CD-ROM tray is designed to support slim-line laptop style drives, which are becoming increasingly popular in everyday small form factor builds. Furthermore, there's space for a 3.5-inch card reader or front panel accessory of your choice.
A quick look at the power supply shows that it's got a nice 120W capacity and a 3 year guarantee. The advantage of using an in-built PSU removes the need for a laptop style power block hiding under your desk; it keeps it all in the case.
Looking at the HDD mount and we can see the nice touch of the etched HDD symbol on it, making it obvious to newbie system builders. The mount can support both 2.5-inch laptop style hard disks as well as standard 3.5-inch flavours, too.
On top of the CD-ROM tray we see the same etching going on that provides re-assurance that this case has been well designed to make everything obvious and intuitive.
Naked on the inside
Taking out the CD-ROM tray is easily done by unscrewing the two retainers at the back and lifting it up and out. Behind we reveal the hollow innards of the case itself, the 80mm fan attached to the exhaust port and all the usual cables like USB, audio and front panel connectors.
A closer look at the fan and we can see its a nice new brushless model produced en-mass from the mainland; which should provide adequate ventilation for the case.
Back to the front briefly and it's worth mentioning that the unit containing the LEDs and switches for the front panel can be detached along with the USB and audio connectors to remove the power supply located behind it.
Half the height; half the calories
On the back we can see that the half height PCI slots are kept locked down by a single screw clamp style device. Since this case is less likely to have you swapping in and out half height graphics cards every 12 months, I doubt this will be an issue to anybody.
Removing the power supply, we can see the exhaust fan mounted to it to draw cool air through the sealed enclosure; this is often much needed in small cases due to the thermal build-up that occurs with prolonged heavy power draw.
You might be wondering (as I was) what the maximum clearance for heatsink-fan units is inside the case. Well, you can see from the ruler, there's 80mm to the base of the case to the CD-ROM tray and approximately 60mm if you plan to put in a card reader or some other bay bling.
Slam in the lamb!
Fitting the trusty ITX board inside the case isn't the easiest experience I've had. You either have to force it past the power supply's thick cable and squeeze it in, or the more sensible option is to remove the power supply unit, as I did earlier, and fit the mother board and replace the PSU.
This motherboard is a J&W MINIX 780G and supports AM2 and AM2+ CPUs, allowing us to install a 2.5GHz dual core 45watt energy efficient CPU.
The onboard 780G chipset has 128MB of sideport memory for the graphics chipset, meaning you get a quality performance out of the system, especially when used as a home theatre setup playing back 1080p Blu-ray movies with ease.
With the motherboard in place, the heatsink of choice is a low profile Scythe Shuriken HSF with a low profile 100mm fan and chromed copper base.
Is it cramped in here, or is it just me?
Is it cramped in here or just me?
With all the cables connected, you can see it gets a little bit cramped and cable routing becomes a bit of a challenge, even for the veterans of case modding.
One issue I had with the motherboard and heatsink combination is the fouling of the SO-DIMM laptop style RAM modules; while not preventing operation of the system, it just makes us reviewers suck air through our teeth the whole time.
Firing the system up, there is very little in way of discernable noise coming from the system; the steel does a good job of silencing most of the internal whirrings and noises that beefier systems tend to make.
The first thing to do was test the ability of the case to remain cool under pressure; so I fired up a mixed mode burn in, taxing the CPU, the RAM and the chipsets to get the maximum power dissipation.
After an hour, the case temperatures levelled out at a mediocre 55degrees with a gentle breeze of warm air emanating from the exhaust port to warm my cold hands on. While this is a tad on the warm side for my liking, it is important to remember this is a very compact form factor case, so there is nowhere for hot air to go but out through the exhaust port. So you are likely to get readings from the warm air coming straight off the HSF before it is being extracted.
Overall, I would say this case is an ideal solution for anyone looking to build an ITX setup without breaking the bank. However, it would probably be better coupled with a lower powered system such as an Atom based ITX so there is less thermal build-up inside the case.
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