When I first saw this concept on the InWin 307, it fell in line with the level of crazy design adventures InWin is known for performing. When I saw the 309, it no longer had the semi-opaque front and was a sleek tinted glass instead. This looked prime to make for some fun designs, and as our experience shows, it is capable. The density of LEDs being improved would be a significant plus, as presently, your creativity is stifled by the lack of fidelity/available pixels.
During testing for the InWin 309, we observed an ambient temperature of 23.4C with an RH of 43%. The CPU cooled by a Corsair H60, which is a single 120mm AIO, kept the CPU to an average delta over ambient of 52.8C. The GPU showed a delta over ambient of 36C, which is also quite good. This places the cooling capability in a capable position, only barely losing ground to the Macube 310, but readily beating the S500 from Thermaltake and the Silencio S600 from Cooler Master.
Overall, with the less than standard airflow layout, there is plenty of room to adjust things or even add cooling capacity via the various cooling mounting positions in the top, bottom, and rear.
What we like
There is a decent amount to like about the InWin 309. The first thing is going to be the elephant in the room, and that is aesthetic. Something such as this has been observed only a couple of times, maybe a few if we dig at obscure entries. The 307 ushered in the LED pixel front panel design, and the 309 made it better. While the 307 had its flair, the 309 turned the concept into something that looks much more like something that could fit in as a stealth high-end gaming rig while also able to kick on the party lights and showoff some creativity via the front low pixel count array.
The airflow simply works, even if you would not think that this would be an ideal solution, I do believe both InWin and Lian Li with their PC011 series has proven it viable. The ability to daisy chain things such as fans even if proprietary makes for a much cleaner cabling solution. Even if it does cost you in terms of expandability and choice, the plastic retainers for fans are brilliant as it holds the fans firmly but can be adjusted with zero tools. That is kind of weird when you think about it, the drive trays require fasteners, but your EGO fans do not. This does indeed feel a bit backward.
What do we think could be better?
What we did not like about the 309, I think its safe to start with the same LED array we just finished praising. The LED panel is such a cool idea I am surprised that it has only seen implementation on a few chassis' models. With the progression and increase of use of RGB/ARGB, I knew it was only a matter of time until the attempt to animate it would come into play.
However, the biggest struggle and the most significant stifling moment was when I had ambitious design ideas to make on the front panel and quickly found that 8px wide is simply not much to work with, so the definition is simply not possible. I would like to see what this tech can do, as more LEDs can be addressed independently by controllers. I do not want to have a clear definition of a screen, as the pixel art look is very cool, but 3x the density of LEDs would change the game so to speak regarding capabilities.
The other thing I would like to see better is some sort of protective surface for the PSU to rest upon. Also, tie-down locations that are raised loops or like make it easier to get zip ties through the panel and back to you in the cable management area for tying down cables. Presently we have to have hands-on both sides to push the zip tie back through, which does work, but is also more of a hassle versus having loops pop up where you can easily pass a zip tie through.
Lastly would be the almost complete omission of toolless capabilities. Strangely enough, the Fans were essentially toolless, but the same level of love was not afforded to the drive trays, expansion slots, or anything else for that matter.
With everything we have discussed up to this point, I do think the InWin 309 deserves some serious merit for ushering in a new way of customizing your gaming rig right out of the box. The 309 is not perfect, but it is a solid chassis with an excellent feel for materials and structural integrity. It is not often I would trust using a chassis as a step ladder, but if I was in need, I think this is the one I would grab.
Add to this the fact that nothing else out there as of this time offers the same level of retro-styled customization, except for the Snowblind, which is a similar price point, and you can see that they both hold some cool performance and aesthetic capabilities. There is no way that the InWin 309 could walk away with anything short of a recommendation.
Shannon's Chassis Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: ASUS ROG Maximus XI Hero (Wi-Fi) Z390 (buy from Amazon)
- CPU: Intel Core i7 8700K (buy from Amazon)
- Cooler: Corsair Hydro Series H60 (buy from Amazon)
- Memory: Corsair Vengeance Pro RGB CMW32GX4M4C3000C15 (buy from Amazon)
- Video Card: MSI GeForce RTX 2060 Gaming Z (buy from Amazon)
- Storage: SanDisk M.2 256GB
- Power Supply: SilverStone Strider Platinum 1000W (buy from Amazon)
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Home 64-bit (buy from Amazon)
The Bottom Line
InWin took the pixel art design capabilities and built them into an attractive chassis style that will likely attract plenty of builders. Don't fret, the performance is solid and matches the aesthetic capabilities for an overall great package.