Typically what I get from IN WIN has great designs and innovative ways of cooling their chassis, and both the color and concepts of their tool-free systems make these cases easy to use and I can tell them apart from most others from over 100 foot away with attributes such as the bright yellowish-green of all the fans and tool-free mechanisms. Setting yourself apart from the crowd is the name of the game, especially in a market so flooded with options. While you may not appreciate the coloring personally, I can think of another company, Noctua, that you know from as far as your eye can see that the tan and burgundy fan is indeed only from one maker. The same applies to IN WIN with almost every chassis I have seen to date.
While the Interiors tend to share most of the key features, as with any case designer, it's much cheaper to keep all the colors the same and re-use some of the components that are tried and true for the previous cases in the line-up. The old adage of, if it isn't broke don't fix it, applies everywhere, it's just in this type of market it can set a theme that becomes easily recognizable when the exterior of the chassis can go from completely artsy and has colors and structures with no real use but to look a certain way. I have also had a few chassis' that while still not my exact cup of tea, are cases I would recommend to other buyers because they offer a solid coloration, and while the design concept may be unique, they are a bit more sleek and less "ricer" than what I was originally seeing from IN WIN.
Today we are looking at a chassis that may be a mid tower, but takes traits from a couple of the later cases I just looked at; the Dragon Rider, and Dragon Slayer chassis exteriors. You will soon see the similarity in the exterior, along with a cool little lockable door on the side to give access to your hard drives; something that I have seen done, but not exactly like this. If this was a video review I might take 20 seconds to make fun of the name, as would Tosh.0 with anything this unusual, but I will simply stay away from the odd naming which I assume is pronounced "buck". Let's jump right in and see what specifications the BUC offers and how much it is going to set you back to get one and see if IN WIN has what it takes to draw your money in this competitive mid tower market.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
Earlier cases like the Griffon and the Maelstrom were from the same Destiny Series of case designs that led up to the Dragon Slayer and Rider cases. The BUC is no exception. This all black, steel, mid tower chassis takes features of all the cases I mentioned while still offering a look that is all its own. The mix of large protruding ventilation and optical drive covers make the front of the chassis very unique to look at. The top most section of the front bezel contains the I/O panel with its pair of USB 2.0 connections, e-SATA port and audio and microphone jacks. The top of the chassis has a large catch-all tray that is surrounded in a carbon fiber-like pattern molded into the ABS plastic. In this tray, and almost hidden, is where you will find the USB 3.0 connectivity. There is a panel on the left side that uses the same mesh as the front bezel to offer a bit of optional ventilation.
Along with the capability to hold both ATX and m-ATX motherboards, the inside has a lot to offer. Four 5.25" bays top the drive bay rack, while only three are accessible from the outside. In the middle there is a 5.25" bay that has been converted to house a 3.5" floppy drive. At the bottom arranged to be removed and installed through the door rather than through the front, there are five removable trays that are all hot swappable, but only three of which are accessible via the locking door in the side of the chassis. The rest of the steel interior is painted black in the BUC and most of the wiring is coated black, except for the rainbow ribbon cables for the power, reset, etc. With the hard drive trays and the tool-free locks on the drives, along with the tool-free clips on the seven expansion slots, why not make the fans in the same lime green color? IN WIN does just that. In the top and in the rear of the case you will find 120mm fans with black frames with green blades that match the rest of the chassis. In the front you will find a clear fan with clear blades that is accented with blue LEDs to give the chassis a bit of color; this fan is 120mm as well.
Now, it's obvious that there is a unique appearance and a color theme that IN WIN has stuck with since I started getting their cases, they definitely have made a name for themselves and developed an easily recognizable presence. What I need to dig deeper to see is does this case have what it takes to warrant you to spend your $100 mid tower investment with them. With the market so flooded as I mentioned a few times, you really need to step up with entries here, as the options for all the major manufacturers are doing the same thing, trying to get your dollars. In the US, the IN WIN BUC will set you back $99.99 at Newegg.com, and they're asking only $9.99 to ship it. If you act soon, and actually broke the code to actually getting a rebate check, there is an additional $20 rebate going on right now. With that included you are only going to end up spending $90, but let's take a closer look and see if this stands above the literal tons of cases already on shelves.
IN WIN ships the BUC in a black packaging. Instead of the dragons or guys in a suit of armour, this time the BUC received a shield. At the very bottom there are eight bubbles showing key features found inside and out of the BUC.
This side has the other half of the shield next to a list of six more important features to be found with the BUC. Access via the door to the hard drives, 300mm VGA maximum size, and many other points to know get covered.
I'm not positive if I showed the back first and this is the front, but either way, this side shows us what we want to see. The BUC name, the IN WIN logo, another shield drawing, and more importantly, a view of the BUC chassis are all in attendance. Things to note about the chassis, it is obviously powered to show the backlit logo and the front fan LEDs, and the access panel to the hard drives has been removed.
Underneath the large IN WIN logo and handle cutout, the full list of chassis specifications can be found. This information combined with the large case image and feature lists give you a great idea of what you are getting inside the box.
The basic accoutrement of Styrofoam and a plastic liner delivered a perfect sample for me to look at and show you.
The IN WIN BUC Mid Tower Case
With all of the packing out of the way, you can see that IN WIN again kept the all black look of the Dragons. I won't get too deep into the details as I am about to go over them one by one.
The front of the BUC has an aggressive looking pair of protrusions. The three optical bay covers can be removed externally, along with the floppy drive cover in the middle band. At the bottom of the bezel there is a large mesh area to allow for the intake fan to draw air and gave IN WIN a place to put the backlit logo.
The front I/O is at the very top. It has USB 2.0 and audio jacks, along with the power and reset buttons that have activity LEDs incorporated into the sides of each button.
On the top you can see that carbon fiber-like design surrounding and on the floor of the catch all tray. In the middle of the back wall of the tray, that is where the USB 3.0 port is. Matching the front there is a thinner middle between the tray and the large vented area at the back to allow the included fan to exhaust through the mesh covering.
The left side has a large mesh area on the left that can be backed by a pair of 120mm fan, but they aren't included. On the right there is an IN WIN logo stamped into the panel, and of course the lockable access panel at the bottom. Both side panels use these tool-free locks. The rear panel is plain steel and is why I won't bother to show it.
The rear of the case has the USB 3.0 cable hanging out of the top of the chassis ready to plug into the rear I/O of any motherboard. Above the 120mm exhaust fan is a pair of hole with grommets for water cooling. Under it is the seven expansion slots and the hole for the bottom mounted PSU.
Inside The IN WIN BUC Mid Tower Case
Lifting the tabs on the door panels and sliding them to the rear allows them do get out of the way for now. Inside the chassis what hits you first is that color of all the tool-free mechanisms and the fans. In the top hard drive tray you will find the manual, and the hardware box is strapped to the motherboard tray.
In the front you have four 5.25" drive bays all with knobe that pull out to unlock, and push in to lock the device in place. The same thing can be said for the floppy drive bay just under it. The five hard drive trays are stiff and take a lot of effort to remove them. While it makes for a very secure fit, it almost thought I was going to break them.
The motherboard tray has six wire management holes, and a large hole for CPU back plate access. To install an ATX motherboard, you will use the "bump" risers, if you want to install a m-ATX you need to add a couple of included risers.
The back of the chassis holds the 120mm 3-pin powered fan whose blades match the color of the seven tool-free locks on the expansion slots below. A combination of tabs of steel and rubber pads keeps the PSU secure in the bottom.
Behind the motherboard tray there is quite a bit of room. Something I didn't pay attention to until now is the stack of hot swappable hard drive wiring and SATA cables. Only the top four are like this, but it is a nice added feature.
There is a lot of cabling involved with the hot swap setup added to the typical motherboard connections from the front I/O. You will see, there aren't any issues getting it wired back here.
Laying the BUC on its back you can see that under the chassis there is a combination of a plastic frame for the dust filter being designed with the rear feet incorporated into it, with a pair of rubber feet for the front. You also get a peek over the top of the floor at the 120mm fan installed in the top.
Accessories and Documentation
In the cardboard box that was tied to the motherboard tray you will find quite an assortment of hardware. From top left you have the bag of extra fan screws for the door panel, hard drive screws and rubber isolators for 3.5" hard drives, and the screws for the bottoms of 2.5" drives. You also get keys for the access panel, a motherboard speaker, the motherboard screws and risers, and a 3-pin to Molex fan power adapter. To tidy things up, IN WIN send ten zip ties as well.
The manual, if you can say that, is a piece of paper that shows an exploded diagram of how the chassis goes together. For any additional information, it asks that you visit their site.
To install a 3.5" hard drive, you slide in the isolating washers via the keyway in the side of the tray. You then use the 3.5" designated screws to secure it. For 2.5" drive installation, there are holes in each tray for mounting then via the 2.5"designated screws.
The Build and Finished Product
Removing the front bezel to add the optical drive I ran into a couple of thing worth mentioning. There is a nice dust filter for the intake fan behind the bezel for the good news. The bad news is that there is all the wiring connected, and the way its routed through the top of the chassis makes it really tough to remove and replace the bezel, be careful!
After dealing with the wiring, the work was worth it in my opinion. The drive sits recessed in the front and is barely noticeable, detracting very little form the design.
The install was pretty painless. I would have like to see a few more places to tie the wiring to make things a bit tidier, but everything is manageable and stays out of the way. All of the tool-free feature worked as designed and really cuts down on the installation time.
Not really much new going on back here. Of course, the components are in, so don't forget to plug in the USB 3.0 cable.
Behind the motherboard things look a bit messy. I always like to try to test the room here by grouping wires with the 24-pin, the BUC at the cables for lunch and the door slid right into place. As I mentioned, a couple of punched out tabs for wiring would have been greatly appreciated.
Closing things off and getting the BUC ready for its first show under the lights, I figured it was a great time to unlock the hard drive access door and show you what's going on. You can only access three of the drives from this door. I would install your OS in one that doesn't easily pull out of the door, just in case you accidentally pull the wrong drive.
Powered up, the chassis is relatively quiet. I had all the fans running with 12V powering each, and while the air flow in the chassis was very good, the noise level was very easy to deal with. As for case lighting, you will have HDD activity at the top left in blue, of which I missed the flicker for this image, and the power LED on the right. In the middle there is the red glow of the IN WIN logo over the blue glow of the intake fan.
The feature set in the IN WIN chassis is top notch. They went and kept the all black theme I love, gave it USB 3.0 connectivity and kept a lot of the appeal that makes IN WIN who they are today. From giving a user access to both optical bays and three of the four hard drives from the outside of the chassis, to an almost completely tool-free installation, aside from the motherboard that is. What is really growing on me is that bold color choice against the black interior. As I say, this alone will tell everyone who made that chassis even if the panels and bezel are missing. I don't know if they took my grilling of their more oddly shaped cases to heart, but either way, I like this newer line of chassis exteriors much more.
As much as I want to give this chassis a full clean bill of health, there are just a couple of things that struck me as odd, or fall on my "I wish it had..." list. First, I found it odd that there was no access through the front to the fourth optical bay, but there is effort made for an aging floppy drive. The second thing I found odd was why not give access to all four of the hot swappable drive bays? I mean, that is sort of the point to a hot swappable drive bay, isn't it? For the "I wish it had..." segment I would have loved to see more points to attach wiring. I know modular PSUs are king, but even those wires need to be tied up at times. The last thing that could use some help is a slightly larger hole in the steel roof to allow those front I/O wires to move more freely.
Even with the down notes that are more of what I am used to seeing in mid towers these days, they aren't something everyone needs. The BUC from IN WIN does offer quite a bit of bang for the buck with a long list of features and all black appearance. Even with the LED fan and logo ablaze under power, it gives the chassis "that special something" that takes it from average to "now that's something I see myself buying". I have heard many times that mid towers need to be $100 or less and full towers should be around $150 for a steel and plastic chassis, and IN WIN plays right into that way of thinking. The case itself is listed at Newegg.com for $99.99, and once you are done with the basic math of shipping costs and the $20 mail in rebate, it leaves me definitely recommending this well appointed mid Tower chassis.
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