IN WIN is a company of which I have seen many cases from its lineup, and up to now, really none of them have been a case that would find a permanent home on my desk. It isn't that the cases were lacking in any department. IN WIN tends to think out internal designs and feature sets that rival some of the top tiered chassis' that require quite a bit more money to attain said features. My real issue with most of the previous cases was based purely on aesthetics. With this chassis we are about to have a look at, a new leaf has been turned in IN WIN designing, and I hope it's a trend that continues.
This chassis is not only a real looker in my book, but it offers all the things we are used to in an IN WIN chassis. Things like a tool-less assembly to hold in the expansion cards, an almost endless supply of slides for the various drives to be placed inside the chassis, and it even carries a flood of blue LED lighting that we have seen from them before. Two major things have changed. One, I finally got a full tower chassis worth its salt, and secondly, the theme of the chassis may be a bit mythological, but translates into a stellar looking chassis with everything you would want to see in a full tower chassis.
The full tower chassis we are going to be looking at is the Dragon Rider. Keeping the name in mind, the case doesn't look like a dragon. Rather, it takes styling cues from things like riveted steel, and chainmail armor. At this point I suggest you saddle up and prepare to fly as I bring you the details of the Dragon Rider. At that point we can dig into the belly of the beast and see just what this new chassis has to offer.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
This all steel chassis is accented with steel mesh panels surrounded in either the plastic front bezel, or in the case of the door panels. The mesh is surrounded by a plastic ring to hold the mesh in place. The front bezel has five removable covers to expose the 5.25" bays, and one of which has a tray to turn the 5.25" bay into a 3.25" bay for a floppy drive. At the bottom, a 120mm fan sucks in air and pushes it through the rack that houses a slide out tray for a 2.5" drive, and the four 3.5" bays just below it. The motherboard tray is designed to allow for wire management and supports a wide array of motherboard form factors. Since the Dragon Rider is 21.8" deep, internally this leaves room for VGAs up to thirteen inches in length.
Connectivity of the Dragon Rider is handled in the top I/O panel. Aside from the usual power, reset, and activity LEDs, this panel offers a full list of ports. IEEE 1394, two USB 3.0, two USB 2.0, e-SATA, and the audio connection cover the I/O panel. That leaves us with the ventilation, and again IN WIN has this part of the chassis fully covered. The front has a 120mm fan, as well as the rear and the top of the chassis. The top does offer an extra place for mounting a 120mm fan in front of the one packaged with the Dragon Rider. The door panels, and yes, I mean both panels, are where "extra" cooling is well handled. The left panel comes shipped with a 220mm fan already attached to the door, but has room to place up to six 120mm fans instead. The right side panel houses a 120mm fan that cools the back of the motherboard and CPU socket via the cut out in the motherboard tray for the CPU cooler access.
So let's get to the part that is usually either a deal breaker, or something that drives us to like a purchase even more; the price. IN WIN shows on the product page that the MSRP is set at $159.99 and from what I found around the internet, this is right around where most e-tailers are listing the Dragon Rider. Hopping over to my favorite place to buy hardware, a $139.99 asking price at Newegg.com plays right into the MSRP once the $20 worth of shipping gets added in. The Dragon Rider is on shelves just about everywhere, so let's move into the packaging so we can get a look at the outside and inside of this new full tower from IN WIN.
This large panel of the Dragon Rider chassis shows a drawing of a well armoured warrior atop his Dragon looking like it is swooping in at the chassis depicted in the lower right corner.
This side of the box has the look of an old pirate map with key features, both in text, in six windows, or in the eleven icons.
The back of the package shows the back of the chassis. This gives you your first view of the fan that is placed behind the motherboard tray.
This last side matches the background of the opposing side, but this time carries a full list of specifications for the Dragon Rider.
Removing the chassis and inner packaging from the box, we see that IN WIN uses high density foam to surround the chassis along with a plastic liner and a few well placed peel-away layers of protection. The instruction manual is floating about in the box, and there is a bag of hardware and a bag with a couple of wire adapters packed into cut outs in the foam.
Both the top I/O and the piano black inserts in the bezel get added protection with some static cling plastic. This is a terrific added step in the packaging to assure both the aluminum of the front I/O as well as the shiny black plastic looks just as good for you as it did rolling down the line at the factory.
Peeling away the plastic on the top was quite easy, but to get these bits out of the bezel took me a bit more effort. Even with the tabs I was having a tough time removing them; I had to turn to the needle nosed pliers to grab the tiny tabs for removal.
The IN WIN Dragon Rider Full Tower Chassis
The front of the Dragon Rider looks like chainmail in the center, surrounded by Iron Age armor with design elements that look much like rivets. Standing out against the background, there is the IN WIN logo surrounded by three "fingers" that seem to wrap around the bezel to hold the logo in place. Above the logo there are five removable panels to allow access to the optical bay drives, and below the logo is the 120mm intake fan.
The front I/O panel has the Dragon Rider name in front of the power and reset buttons, and the HDD activity LED. Behind these there are the 3.5mm audio jacks, two USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 connections, an IEEE 1394, and two e-SATA ports.
The left side sports a steel mesh panel that we have seen on other designs from IN WIN. The Dragon Rider has not only a 220mm fan attached to the mesh, but also offers the option to place up to six 120mm fans of your choice.
Just to the right of the mesh insert, IN WIN placed a two position switch that will allow the LEDs in the 220mm fan to function, or not.
The rear of the chassis starts at the top with a ventilated area that houses four grommets for both water cooling, as well as passing the USB 3.0 cables through. Moving down, you then run into the rear I/O and the 120mm rear exhaust fan. Moving down some more, we run into the eight expansion slots. There isn't any ventilation next to the cards because the tool-less assembly takes up the room internally. That leaves the large hole at the bottom to house the power supply of your choice.
The right door panel has a couple of features worth mentioning. First, let's cover the large bump in the panel. This allows for much more room behind the motherboard tray to hide wiring. Then there is the 120mm fan behind the mesh. This fan blows directly at the CPU access hole in the motherboard tray and will keep not only the motherboard cool, it will lower socket temperatures as well.
Under the Dragon Rider you will find a large ventilated area that has a filter on the inside of the chassis and allows for a power supply to draw in cooler, clean air if you install it with the fan facing down. To support the chassis, IN WIN uses these swiveling "duck feet". There are two rubber pads for each of the feet, and whether they are turned in or twisted out to the sides, they offer a sound footing for this full tower chassis.
Inside the IN WIN Dragon Rider Full Tower Chassis
Removing the front bezel takes a gentle tug, but with no wiring connected once it's removed, it can just be set aside and out of the way for now. The front of the chassis has steel plates covering the extra 5.25" drives, except the last one; it has a drawer full of the slides needed to mount all of the drives in the case.
Sticking out like a sore thumb at the bottom is a box with blue LED lights in it, and this is used to light up the logo once the bezel is back on and the chassis powered up. At the bottom the 120mm fan resides in a steel box that with the removal of a screw can be pulled out and cleaned.
The left door panel is covered on the inside with some egg crate foam to deaden some of the noise that comes from inside the rig, since the mesh doesn't tend to absorb or deflect noises very well. The 220mm fan is powered with a Molex connection and can be removed. Mind you; you need to pull the switch from the door as well.
The right side panel has the 120mm fan strategically placed so it directs cold air right to the back of the CPU socket.
Inside the Dragon Rider we see that it is painted to match the exterior. The front I/O wiring is securely ties to the drive bays, and the wiring for the fans was wrapped and it tidy for shipping.
The wiring from the front I/O is very long, especially the USB 3.0 wiring as it has to be able to go out the back of the chassis. The e-SATA, USB 2.0, IEEE 1394, and the audio cables are all of similar length and are plenty long. That leaves the multi-colored flat wiring for the power, reset and LED activity lights.
The five 5.25" bays don't have screw holes for mounting the drives due to the tool-less slides that come inside the chassis. Just below these bays there is a removable tray that will house a 2.5" drive securely in the adapter.
Behind the intake fan is the hard drive rack for housing up to four hard drives. Again, there is no need for screw holes due to the use of smaller tool-less slides for this rack.
The motherboard tray is exactly that, a tray. This section of steel has a gap above and below the tray for the entire width. Not only is the tray labeled for each motherboard type it supports, it has wire management holes and CPU cooler access.
Here is an upward look at the ventilation and case fans in the rear and the top of the chassis. There are plenty of holes for both water cooling and the USB 3.0 wiring.
The lower half of the rear of the Dragon Rider consists of room for the power supply above the dust filter, but there is the large section of levers that work as tool-less locks that holed the expansion cards securely in place.
Accessories and Documentation
Behind the top removable cover in the bezel, this adapter plate for converting the 5.25" into a 3.5" bay for a floppy drive installation.
Here is the 2.5" tray for mounting an SSD or laptop drive in the chassis.
The tray I mentioned with all the slides for the 5.25" and 3.5" bays, and there is a pair for every bay. Both sides of this tray are completely filled up with these yellow slides.
This large fold out instruction sheet covers everything you will need to know. A list of components and hardware, how to gain access to the components and the beginning of the builders guide can be found on this side.
The reverse of the paperwork houses specification charts and feature lists in six various languages.
One of the bags that were tucked into the foam caps contains this hardware. Wire ties, fan adapters for power, various wire management clips, a motherboard speaker, a bag of all the screws you will need, along with an extra pair of PSU support "nubs" cover what is in this bag.
The other bag that was shipped in the foam contains this pair of 8-pin wire extensions. These are labeled ad P2A and P2B. It's nice to see one of these in a hardware bag, but with more motherboards using dual 8-pin connections, adding a second extender is a huge plus to those who will need them.
The Build and Finished Product
With everything installed, the DVD drive can hide in the shadows of the recess and not be noticed at all really. I also extended the feet on the chassis to show what it would look like with them in the more stable position.
I hated to use a m-ATX motherboard for the build, but I couldn't bring myself to install the Foxconn. I liked the all black look and the orange and yellow on the DFI accented the IN WIN much better. Everything went together with ease. All of the tool-less features speed up the build and take all the tiny screws being dropped completely out of play. Even with the GTS 250 in place, you can see there is plenty of room for more card, thirteen inches in total length can be housed in here, although you may need to move the tray with all the slides in it.
Being all black, adding black components only helps things look even more stealth. The only thing that stands out back here are the pair of blue USB 3.0 cables as they get plugged into the rear I/O.
I didn't have to route too much behind the motherboard, but what I did had plenty of room and I was able to find ways to secure them with relative ease. There aren't too many holes back here, but with a couple of folds in the cables, and a half dozen tie straps, I was able to get a really clean looking final product.
Once we add the power, the first thing I noticed was the bright blue LEDs that make the logo jump right out at you with even just a quick glance.
The left side also glows with the lighting of the 220mm fan behind the mesh. Don't forget, if the lighting is a bit too bright, you do have the option to turn off these LEDs.
That's right, even the 120mm behind the case is LED lit. While the air flow here is most important, the additional LEDs will add a flood of light to the wall closest to this side of the chassis, so it isn't a complete waste of lighting.
Just to end the review with a full look at the IN WIN Dragon Rider under power!
The Dragon Rider has taken all of my preconceived notions I had about IN WIN and shoved them right back down my throat. Usually when I get my hands on a chassis from IN WIN, I'm left wanting more (or less) in the looks of the chassis designs. This chassis not only took bold styling and LED effects, but delivered it in an all black package that can make itself a place in anyone's home or dorm room. Finally, a chassis from IN WIN that I give my complete endorsement on, and will advise anyone in the market to take a closer look!
Internally the chassis is very large and has more than a sufficient amount of cooling, and even here they added a well placed fan behind the motherboard, that even in my limited testing with the Dragon Rider, the temperature difference of the socket itself dropped four degrees from what I am used to, at idle! - If the cooling inside the Dragon Rider is inadequate for your usage, there are always options to add another fan to the top of the chassis, or you can remove the 220mm fan from the door and replace it with six 120mm fans. If that sort of airflow doesn't cover your needs, I have to think it's because you live on or near the Equator.
All around the Dragon Rider I looked and looked for a reason to pick this chassis apart even the slightest bit, and in that quest I came up empty. This chassis has all the options of a $300 chassis, and even a couple of tricks like the SSD tray and the floppy drive adapter which get overlooked at things needed or wanted, but it's still nice to see them there. Even as I sit back and ponder what you get with the Dragon Rider as far as pricing is concerned, I have to say even in that category, I think IN WIN did a great job for the price.
I mentioned the MSRP of $159.99 as well as the listing at Newegg.com for $139.99 plus shipping. The real question at this point is how long are you going to fight the urge to buy this before you click on the "add to cart" at your favorite e-tailer?
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