By blueonblack at 2010-07-08 12:49
Some companies like to impress with the appearance of their product. With others performance or quality are more important. A few others fill the budget niche with inexpensive merchandise. Every company does what it does best to attract you and I, the customer, and a few manage to get more than one of these features together. Today we’ll be looking at a case from In-Win Development, manufacturers of computer cases since 1986. They have gone through a lot of case designs in that time, and are still prolific in the market. Right now there are forty In-Win cases available for sale on Newegg alone. Today I have the pleasure of reviewing their premiere full-tower case, the Ironclad...more...
Anyone who’s read any of my case reviews knows that I like the big towers. I’ve been lucky enough to get my hands on several large high-end cases over the years, and I just like the way it feels when I open the huge box on the test bench. In-Win is known for their showy cases, from the B-2 to the X-Fighter to the F430. The Ironclad is a combination of flash and substance, and even it’s packaging is impressive.
There’s that huge box I love. Upon removing the case and its protective wrap, I was greeted with its frowning armored face, with the In-Win logo boldly plated in front.
It certainly makes a statement, boldly and up front. I like that. As mentioned, this is a full-tower chassis, with the features we expect:
Eight expansion slots
Six 3.5” internal drive bays
One 2.5” internal drive bay
Five external 5.25” drive bays
One external 3.5” drive bay via included adapter
Ventilation for the system is very well handled in the stock configuration:
One 120mm front intake
One 120mm rear exhaust
One 120mm top exhaust
One 220mm side intake
There is also room for an additional 120mm fan on top of the case, or a dual 120mm radiator if water-cooling is desired.
One of the things that sets this case apart is the side panel where this large fan is. If a single 220mm fan isn’t enough air flow for you, there are rubber mounts in place to allow you to remove this large fan and replace it with up to six 120mm fans, bringing the total potential capacity on this case to ten fans. If you’re into air cooling, the Ironclad has you covered.
The included side fan has a blue LED in it, but to their credit, the design team at In-Win has included a toggle switch to turn it off. They have also surrounded the side panel grill area and the lower portion of the right side with sound-absorbing foam. With a grill as large as the Ironclad has I have to wonder at it’s effectiveness, but it’s a nice touch regardless.
The rear of the Ironclad is fairly standard for a bottom-mount PSU case, with the exception of four precut water-cooling tubing holes with grommets pre-installed.
Another impressive feature of this case is its I/O panel. Included in this top-mounted panel are standard audio out and microphone in ports, as well as four USB ports, a single IEEE 1394 port, and two eSATA ports. In-Win has external input handled well.
The interior of the Ironclad is painted to match the outside, and while the case itself is fashioned of standard .8mm SECC steel, both side panels are much heavier gauge, surprisingly heavy when you remove them. I was also glad to see a cutout included in the motherboard tray for access to heat sink backing plates.
Like most full-tower cases the Ironclad has a lot of drive bays, and all of them are tool-free. In-Win managed to cram all of the retention strips into a single holder that comes housed in one of the 5 1/4" internal bays, a good feature that provides a permanent place to keep the extra strips that aren't in use.
Aside from their color these are fairly standard, the exception being the hard drive brackets. In most cases I’ve seen these are placed in a cradle of sorts, that has three sides. In the Ironclad the hard drives are retained in the same way as the optical drives, with a pair of mounting strips. While this does make installation more difficult than the cradle design, once installed they are held firmly in place.
The retention system for expansion cards is the best I’ve seen. The user pulls back on a plastic tab and the clip that connects to the expansion card slides straight along the back panel of the case, away from the expansion slot, rather than having to pivot in any direction. In addition, each of the clips has a soft rubber pad that contacts the expansion card’s bracket for additional holding strength. Very well designed and executed.
The ventilation for the PSU is covered in a very fine-mesh screen, with the unit itself supported on rubber bumpers mounted to the floor of the case. Note that there are two extra bumpers included with the case, as it is designed to fit today’s largest power supplies, and the extra length may need extra support.
- Size (bigger is better!)
- Appearance (it just looks tough)
- Ventilation (room for ten 120mm fans)
- Water-cooling friendly
- Innovative expansion card securement system
- Hard drive mounts harder to use than most
Most of In-Win's cases don't leave a lot of room for people to sit on the fence; you either love them or hate them. That seems to be their modus operandi and the Ironclad is no exception. Retailing online for anywhere from $110 t0 $130, its price range is actually in the lower end of the spectrum for a full-tower chassis, and it doesn't skimp on features. It's huge, it's heavy and you'd better be in shape if you plan to take it to LAN parties, but all of that is about as up-front as it can be. There are definitely no nasty surprises with the Ironclad. With this combination of features and price, and the very few negative points I could find, I'm going to give the Ironclad full-tower case from In-Win a perfect 5 out of 5 rating. You'll be hard-pressed to beat it in this price range.
You can pick up the Ironclad on sale from Newegg.com for $119.99.
This product was provided free of charge by its manufacturer for the purpose of review.