The InWin D-Frame is a limited edition (500 in the world!) desktop computer case. I bought it because it is mind blowingly different and made of all the things that I love in this world- metal and glass. I’ve had the case as my main desktop rig for about two years now and the following is my IRL (in rela life) review of the InWin D-Frame case. As well, since I’m not a super spec enthusiast, I will briefly review the two main components that really bring this case home- the Gigabyte 7970 Ghz edition 3GB video card and the Zalman CNPS12X CPU cooler.
The box is simply massive. It was a big royal pain to get this home. I super lucked out here and noticed that the case was on a clearance open box price that was nearly half the original MSRP. The thing with this case was that it was a very limited edition run, so the price was extravagant (but not Thermaltake Level 10 non-GT extravagant). MSRP was around 499 CDN before- there have now since been a few cases from InWin that have gone well north of that – there is an H Frame and the Tou that are also collector pieces.
Opening the box was an experience in itself- you have to BUILD the case- this is kind of neat if you like that sort of thing- if you don’t, its a royal pain in the butt because its got lots and lots of steps.
The case comes in lots of little pieces that make no sense- its actually like a level 500 Mecano set or something.
You can see that my old motherboard is still here- its got an Intel Socket 775 slot for the CPU and since that was around the time of the dinosaurs (and first real consumer quad core CPU the Q6600), it can only take a few CPUs and its locked down to that era. This was an issue- do I do a full upgrade and get the mother board in? I ended up not doing that and going nuts with overclocking.
That’s the desktop assembled with the old stock CPU fan – it was a tiny fan designed for stock clocking. I have lit up the insides with IKEA USB lights.
So onto the review- Design- The D-Frame is based off the Ducati motorcycle chassis- InWin wanted to have something that was inspired by the tubes and colors of the luxury bike models. In the end they chose two colors schemes- black and red/orange and blue. Personally I hated the orange and blue at first but now I love it. Its so garishly ugly that it captures the attention of everyone that sees it. The other piece, besides the excellent metal tubing, is the tempered glass panels on each side. You can see why I went with this case- it screams high quality with really solid material choices. The tempered glass adds a level of cool onto the case where most desktops are made of cheapo plastic/aluminum panels. The other thing you will notice is that the case is open air design- it lets air flow freely on the top, bottom, side and front. I personally love this- it gives it a really different kind of look with all of its internals exposed for spectators. Add the glass panels in, and its like looking inside a aquarium, except its showcasing your CPU. I do think the design of building it yourself gives a level of ownership that ready built cases might not have.
Build Quality- I have not had any issues with build quality so far- everything has been as rock solid as it was when I first bought it- the paint hasn’t faded, the glass is squeaky clean and the machine feels like I could use it as a barricade. One thing I did notice was that there were rubber gaskets everywhere- InWin claims this is so that the delicate internals are buffered by the rubber if the case were to fall- something I am not keen on testing.
The badside of an open case and glass design like this, is that everything is visible- including your crappy cable routing. I still haven’t found a really satisfying way to cable route yet. The majority of cables are hidden on the right side of the motherboard mount- this hides it well, but it also means you can only showcase from the left side of the case- the right side will be ugly.
You can see the wielded joints here.
You can see one of the glass panels here- they are very easily removed by the solid aluminum knobs (four of them) that screw on the chassis on each side of the case.
Connectivity- I think this is where my computer enthusiast and computer wizard becomes differentiated. There’s enough connectivity that it fits my needs but I’m not sure if that’s quire on the level of most flagship cases. I do know it has less than other serious enthusiast cases like the Corsair 900d. I believe that InWin traded function for form in here- and that’s fine. You don’t buy a case like this without choosing form over function to some degree. I do think there are some limits- i.e. there’s only one 5.25 inch bay on here and hard drives are limited to 3 2.5 inch bays and two 2.5 inch drives. Honestly I have no issues with it. My own issues stem from using an old as dinosaurs motherboard. For example, I had to add USB 3.0 support in order to use the USB 3.0 connectors on the front interface.
You can see the way the HDDs mount here- three 3.5 inch drives can be mounted vertically in the weird little metal box and the 2.5 inch drives can be mounted onto the side.
Cooling- I suppose this is one of the big pieces of contention on this case- its open air so air flows freely throughout the case. Does that help with cooling or impede it? I think the basic answer is that it helps it because hot air doesn’t get trapped inside or get used for a cool air intake for another cooler (if you poorly plan your cooling). Honestly cooling is fine in here- the unfortunate placement of my desktop means that it gets a healthy dose of sun throughout the day but I haven’t had any issues with it over heating. Right now I have air flow intaking from the bottom and flowing up, as well as air being intaked from the front and flowing out the rear. Above you can see the Zalman CNPS12x that I bought to overclock my Intel 2.66 GHz Cpre 2 Duo Wolfdale (that old) to 3.4 Ghz. The Zalman has helped quite a bit in maintaining a stable operation and its also a monster sized beast that complements the overall design. I’m going to straight out admit I bought it for the looks- all in one water cooling would have been better, but this massive air cooler just looks awesome.
You can see the front intake fan here – it blows cool air to the CPU cooler.
I added three mini intake fans at the back- its counter to the whole system air flow but I wanted to make sure some air was getting the to GPU intake fans. I’m sure it doesn’t actually do much. I just like the looks of the extra fans.
The intake fans on the Windforce cooler of the AMD Gigabyte 7970 Ghz edition 3GB GPU. You know I was going to do a mini review of the GPU here but now that I think about it, I don’t really game a lot and I couldn’t tell you how good of a card this really is. I can tell you that it is super super restrained by the old CPU right now and upgrading the motherboard is a next step. Or not. I’m running pretty fine just doing my regular productivity everyday work on this set up so I probably won’t upgrade it. Its now 8 years old!
You can see the three bottom intake fans- there’s a switch that increases the RPM to turbo cooling but I rarely use it unless I’m gaming on a hot afternoon. What you can see here is the special plaque that says what edition this chassis is out of the 500 in the world- I have 040/500! Super cool- it feels really unique to have something like that.
Sound quality is provided by the minuscule Asus Xonar UG DAC- I actually will do a separate review of this unit later- the fact that it powers my heavy hitter Sony MDR-Z7, MDR-7520, MDR-SA3000 and Beyerdynamic DT-1350 speaks a lot about a DAC that only cost me 40 bucks CDN.
Final picture emphasizing the unique build of this chassis. This is with the glass panels removed- you can see where the panels mount on the corners, where the screws stick out.
Conclusion- I must admit – this is the worst review I have done for a product so far. Out of all the technology that I use, desktop chassis are probably the least experience I have with a product genre. I have really only worked with two chassis- this one and the Antec P180. If I look back at this review, I think its clear why this review is even here- this case is a showpiece. Its meant to engage the eye and evoke emotion- either through disgust or awe. Generally, most of my family and friends have been more on the latter so that works for me, because I’m on the latter too. Seriously. This review is really just a glorified pictorial album of one of my favorite products of all time. Would I get it again? In a heart beat. Its one of the most unique pieces I own and its glass aquarium like build means it can sit proud and center in my desk and provide endless entertainment to most technology dweebs. I’m sure there are real pros and cons to this case, but the design and build quality far far outweigh the cons. or the pros. Years ago, I yearned for the Thermaltake Level 10 non-GT case. I don’t anymore- this case is my end game.
TLDR- Pros- this case looks awesome; Cons- I don’t know, its too awesome for me to think of cons.