In Win BUC ATX Tower Case

Cases|Damping
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AUDIO RECORDINGS

These recordings were made with a high resolution, lab quality, digital recording system inside SPCR's own 11 dBA ambient anechoic chamber, then converted to LAME 128kbps encoded MP3s. We've listened long and hard to ensure there is no audible degradation from the original WAV files to these MP3s. They represent a quick snapshot of what we heard during the review.

Each recording starts with ambient noise, then 10 second segments of product at various states. For the most realistic results, set the volume so that the starting ambient level is just barely audible, then don't change the volume setting again while comparing all the sound files.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The In Win BUC's raison d'être is a mystery — we're not sure who the target audience is, or if there even is one. It seems like the designer(s) compiled a wish list of ideas and slapped them together haphazardly with as little cost as possible. It has an eclectic mix of features and both good and bad design decisions that leave us scratching our heads. There are aspect of the case we admire, but there are also a lot of problems, things that were half-assed, poorly thought out, or just in need of some improvement.

We'll start with its appearance, which we consider to be rather ugly. The rounded mesh portions of the exterior are attractive and if the rest of the case was designed similarly, we would have been a lot happier. Instead these parts are mixed together with bland bands of solid plastic that visually cut into it, wrapping the BUC in a sort of invisible bow. This gives it an odd, non-uniform set of contours. The overall aesthetic is further tarnished by the coin tray at the top which serves as a holding pan for miscellaneous items without a home.

Its best feature is easily the four SATA backplanes which isn't something you see everyday in a US$100 case. The drive trays however don't slide well if you use the included rubber grommets as they make them too wide to pull out easily. The door on the side panel gives you access to three of the four drives, but oddly, a key is required to lock/unlock it and in the unlock position, it's just a loose panel waiting to fall to the ground. It's a rather bizarre security system considering how easily the side panels come off. The locking mechanism for the panels is pretty solid though and is our second most favorite element.

Many portions of the case can be accessed without screws as its side panels, 5.25" drive bay covers, front bezel, top and front fans can all be removed with little effort. In these and other areas, In Win seems to have cheaped out to keep the case reasonably priced. A 5.25" locking mechanism and door latch were damaged out of the box, and during assembly we broke a pair of the plastic expansion slot locks. The side panels are thin, though the rest of the chassis, including the drive cages and motherboard tray seem quite sturdy. There isn't much space behind the motherboard tray and it doesn't have many hooks or holes for cable-ties either, making cable management a bother.

We're not big proponents of ventilated side panels as they allow noise to escape and in our experience, aren't effective unless an oversized fan is employed. However, we do appreciate that they didn't put the fan placement at the center as it more often than not interferes with a big tower heatsink; having the option for one upper and one lower fan is far preferable. That being said, the BUC only supports 12 cm fans even though there is plenty of room for larger, more efficient 14 cm models. Furthermore, the top and front fan placements aren't very secure, using a pair of old school plastic tabs each to hold them in place with no additional support, though the included fans are actually fairly good acoustically. There are also somewhat restrictive bands of plastic running in front of them for no purpose that we can ascertain.

With only 12 cm fan support and lackluster thermal performance, the BUC is a poor gaming case. Its build quality and casual/limited hotswap capability isn't quite up to par for a server. Its large side vent, lack of a fan controller and dampening material makes it unsuitable for quiet operation. It seems that In Win tried a little bit of everything, attempting to execute on the philosophy that more is better. The end result is a bumbling jack of all trades that excels at nothing except uniqueness — we can safely say you won't find another case like it on the market.

In Win BUC
PROS

* Four SATA backplanes
* Mostly tool-less
* Nifty side panel latches
* Stock fans have good acoustics
* USB 3.0 support
* Good clearance: 16.7 cm for CPU heatsink, 30.1 cm for graphics card
CONS

* Poor thermal performance with heavy load
* Partially obstructed, poorly-secured fan mounts
* No 14 cm fan support
* Mediocre cable management
* Plastic bits prone to damage
* Thin side panels
* Hot-swapping difficult if rubber grommets used

Our thanks to In Win for the BUC case sample.

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