IN WIN may be a name that most buyers don't recognize right away. I rarely ever see them discussed when someone is looking to build a new computer, regardless of the size of the case desired. From my own personal experience, I think IN WIN has very innovative ideas, as well as some "spins" on older ideas that they strive to make function properly, while still giving you a stylish piece to look at.
Pieces from IN WIN such as the Na incorporated an actual porcelain Sushi plate on top of the storage unit. Even the Matrix, while designed to pack as much in as little space as possible with simple lines on the outside, made it an attractive addition to any setting. Our latest submission keeps the "get as much stuff in as little room as possible" concept, but the outside is a whole other concept rather than simple and elegant. This chassis will also make a striking addition to any surrounding, as did its predecessors.
Today we get to look at the X-Fighter mid-tower from IN WIN. The interior hosts a few nice features, which I will discuss soon. The exterior, as I mentioned before, takes a whole other approach. Bold lines, splashes of bright accent colors and the use of a bit of "stealth", IN WIN hides a lot of things from the first glance! Let's get into the specifications and on to the images, so you can get a look for yourself at what IN WIN offers this time around.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
The basic concept of this chassis is to take spaceships from movies such as Star Wars and design a chassis reminiscent of those. I get that's where the red accent comes from, but to me the concept looks a bit more like a Transformer's helmet minus the eyes. Either way about it, the design is striking to say the least. This chassis is packed with drive slots, a total of eleven bays inside and out. The front plastic bezel exposes four 5.25" bays for optical drives or bay controllers, as well as two 3.5" spots for floppy drives. Below those, internally, the X-Fighter supports up to five 3.5" bays for hard drives. The entire body of this chassis is made from 0.8mm SECC steel. In the rear of the body you will find that this chassis has seven expansions slots, as well as two holes that allow for up to " tubing to easily pass through the top of the X-Fighter.
Cooling is something IN WIN looked heavily into when designing the X-Fighter. The front and rear hold 120mm fans that are easily removable. IN WIN labels these fans as Ceramic. Under examination the fan is plastic, so I assume they are alluding to the type of bearing inside the fan. The cooling doesn't stop there in the X-Fighter. IN WIN has also included a "lay down" style fan wall for the bottom half of the interior that houses two 80mm fans of the same ceramic nature to cool the graphics cards. These two fans and the housing are not so easily removed, but can be done if really desired.
Locating the X-Fighter is easy to do. I see this chassis listed almost everywhere I look regularly. Currently the X-Fighter is listed for 135.99 U.S. Dollars at Newegg and they are offering a $50 mail-in rebate which brings the asking price down to $85.99 plus shipping and any taxes that may apply. While I was at Newegg, I comparison shopped the X-Fighter against other mid-towers that they list and $85 seems to be the going rate. There are some cheaper and some more expensive, but to me the X-Fighter seems priced just right.
Keeping with the Star Wars theme, the X-Fighter is displayed on top of a space scene, stars, planet and a spaceship included.
On this side IN WIN uses the space to show off four of the external features of the X-Fighter chassis. These are the LED light bar in the power switch, the incorporated airflow design in the door panel, the unusual feet and lastly the easy access to the front I/O panel.
On the back side of the package we get our first look at the interior of the X-Fighter along with a few bubbles with interior features highlighted. The interior features a slide and store compartment that holds all your drive rails for screw-less installation. The other two highlight the removable fans.
Spinning the box around one more time reveals the specifications of the X-Fighter above a bunch of icons that show compatibility and features.
Once all the pretty cardboard is removed, IN WIN uses layers of thin foam glued together that is cut to fit the X-Fighter to secure your purchase during shipping. Underneath all the layers of foam is the typical plastic bag surrounding the case. Both did well to allow my X-Fighter to arrive in flawless condition.
The IN WIN X-Fighter Mid-Tower Case
Using a mix of shiny and matte finishes and angles does give the X-Fighter a unique look. The silver bits next to the optical drive bays which are vented and backed by an "X" in the plastic mold add a bit of flash. The silver at the bottom evens out the look on the sides, but in the middle it accents the intake for the front 120mm fan. Keeping the angular idea, get a look at the feet. They are sturdy and tall, raising the case quite a bit off the table top. The power button isn't exactly hidden; it's the strip in the middle marked "power". The reset button is completely hidden from view and can be found on the opposite side of the shiny black plastic.
On the left side IN WIN continued the angles and textures, but the side gets a bold splash of red on the panel's venting. To the left of the red highlight is sort of a cowl induction for your CPU cooler. It is vented and uses pieces mounted to the interior to get a fresh supply of cool air directly to the cooler. The left side of the panel says "open" in two separate locations. These point out the clips that lift to release the panel and allow it to slide back and be removed.
The opposing panel shares the same clips to lock the panel in place, but overall this side is much simpler in design. The panel does offer a finger hold to help slide the panel. This comes in handy as the panels do fit tightly and require a bit of force to get open and closed.
Inside the IN WIN X-Fighter Mid-Tower Case
Looking under the "cowl induction" as I called it, there are two areas that allow airflow from the vents on the other side of the panel. The top one consists of a dust filter and a bit of plastic tube to direct the flow of air to a stock style cooler. There is an additional piece to extend this tube if needed. When using a tower style cooler this would need to be removed down to the filter for clearance. The hole at the bottom just has a dust cover attached as it allows a source of air for the fans in the bottom of the chassis.
Above are those fans, to be exact. When I think mid-tower, I don't really think "case full of options", but IN WIN has changed my perception. Not only does the X-Fighter house two 80mm fans to aid in cooling your choice of graphics card, but they are attached to a larger plastic cover. This hides wires and the end of your hard drives, while adding a stylish solution to cleane up the looks of the interior. The rest of the chassis is chemically coated, 0.8mm steel and is very solid in "feel".
Opening things up a bit, we can see the motherboard tray. It has seven bump style risers, plus traditional ones included to install either an ATX or mATX motherboard. The X-Fighter is designed with a top mount power supply, which in my opinion has two benefits in a smaller chassis. One is the ability to use the PSU fan to help cool the case. And two, the wires can easily be stashed above the optical drive to stay out of the way.
In the front half of the X-Fighter IN WIN uses screw-less mounting with all of their bays. The "slides" can be found in the tray at the bottom of the 5.25" bays. You need to remove the front bezel to gain access. There are two 3.5" drive bays sandwiched between the optical and hard drive racks. This hard drive rack can release and spin a bit to give access to the front fan for cleaning. The front 120mm fan is powered with a 3-pin connection and its supporting cage has a dust cover as well.
The rear of the X-Fighter accommodates for water cooling to pass through next to the top mounted PSU. Below is a removable cage that houses the rear 120mm exhaust fan, also powered with a 3-pin connection. Just a couple clips on the outside release the cage to allow for cleaning or replacement. At the very bottom are seven screw-less locks for the expansion slots.
The case wiring is plenty long enough from the front I/O panel. The front panel wires are considerably shorter, but still long enough to get the job done.
Unclipping five tabs inside the chassis allows the removal of the front bezel of the X-Fighter. IN WIN took the extra step and added dust filters to the optical drive covers to keep cleaning less frequent. The front LED and switch wires slip through the hole in the chassis, but the power lead to the left does not. To completely free the front from the chassis, you need to disconnect the connection on the PCB (top left connection) pictured.
Accessories and Documentation
Although the fans aren't exactly "extra hardware", I had them out and figured I would give you a better look at them. In the back is the tray from the bottom of the 5.25" drive rack. It holds all the slides you need to mount all your drives without screws and keeps them handy in the rig and not in some box you can't find. Just to the tray's left is the additional bit of tube for the intake through the door. IN WIN also sends a 3-pin to 4-pin Molex adapter along with the six expansion slot covers and miscellaneous screws and risers.
One side of the fold-out information pamphlet repeats in five languages a specification chart and features list.
The reverse of the foldout is the installation guide. Should you get stuck on how to release a lock, or just exactly how something works, this is an excellent point of reference with great images.
The Build and Finished Product
Installing a full ATX motherboard takes up a lot of room, but is completely manageable. Removing the rear exhaust fan does free up room to get things installed easier. The bump style risers and the additional risers are tall enough to slip the front I/O wires behind the motherboard with little hassle. I had to use my HD 2600 for this setup as my 280 would not fit with about ten to fifteen minutes of trying different things.
Once everything is installed, things do get a bit messy inside after delivering power to all the needed areas. This is of little concern other than if it blocks the natural airflow of the case. Just keep things tidy; the door will hide everything in the end.
Buttoning things up and getting ready to boot the system, I thought it was fitting to get another image once the fan panel was back in place. With a feel for the layout, you can see how this allows cool air to be pulled through the door where it also redirects the flow from the front 120mm intake fan.
I mentioned that the tray of "slides" was accessible from the front. Here they are as I am about to lock them back into place. I did have to remove a plate to use the second 5.25" bay, but a couple of twists and it comes right out. This allows for an extra bit of room above it to keep the extra leads from your PSU out of the way.
Everything fits in the X-Fighter well and aligns just fine with the rear of the case. PSU screws were a snap to install without holding it in place the whole time and the screw-less expansion locks make short work of installing the covers.
Here we have one last look at the front panel before I reach for the power cord and hit the switches. It still looks clean and attractive with the optical drive peeking out.
I also mentioned earlier that the door panels do take a bit of finesse and force to get them on and off. Even after a few tries with it I kept ending up with a slight gap at the edge of the front panel.
With power added and the power button pushed, I was greeted with the dance of LED's under the power button. During operation the LED's go from two to four to six LED's being lit, then reverse the pattern, rinsing and repeating continuously.
Love or hate the looks, the overall well thought out design is a big win for mid-tower cases. Elements like easily removable fans and the addition of the dual intakes through the door for both CPU and graphics cooling improvements are good in themselves. IN WIN took it even further, adding dust filters on all the intakes, making the already easily removed fans needing to be maintained less often. Installing all my hardware was a cinch, as the only screws needed go in the motherboard and the PSU, that's all you need them for.
There are a couple of downsides to the X-Fighter. The fit of the doors needs addressing. I found it difficult to get them to function properly. It could have been user error, but I sat and thought out all the angles and attempted to re-fit the panel many times, but I always ended up with a gap at the front. I know this is a mid-tower, but I feel most system builders use larger graphics cards in their machines. This chassis won't allow some of the larger cards to be installed, like my GTX 280 for instance.
Those two complaints aside, the X-Fighter from IN WIN to me offers quite a bit of bang for the buck. The limited testing I did showed a few degrees difference in temperatures on both the GPU and CPU from what I normally get. Testing, however, is done in my basement with no control of ambient temperatures. I still credit the X-Fighter for that. An asking price of 85.99 U.S. Dollars after M.I.R. at Newegg puts IN WIN at an attractive segment of the mid-tower market. The X-Fighter isn't my personal choice; the design is a bit more flash than I usually look for, but the features built into it overpower it for me. Overall, I like it!
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