IN WIN Maelstrom Reviewairman - November 16, 2009
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Once the case was taken apart, the first thing that I noticed was actually the foam noise dampening on the inside of the case. I thought it was a neat addition, but there's really no accurate way to test how well it dampens noise. I'm sure it helps, but the fact that the entire side panel is perforated metal and thus sound can escape, I don't see it helping out too much. The chassis itself has a very rigid feel, thanks to the 1mm SECC steel in its construction. It does not wobble, especially with the feet extended as seen in the picture. The entire inside of the case is painted matte black. Looking at the outside of the case shows the common opening in the motherboard tray to allow for access to a heatsink mounting bracket. This incredibly convenient feature keeps a user from having to remove the motherboard in order to access the screw holes.
The back of the inside of the case has two 120mm exhaust fans; one on top and one on the rear, both of which use 3-pin plugs. The seven expansion slot covers are just like others in most cases now - metal mesh. They are rigid, which adds structural support, but the mesh allows for passive heat exchange. On the motherboard tray itself is a label that tells which numbered hole that a standoff should go in for certain sizes of motherboards (ATX, mATX, Flex, etc). The four water cooling ports can be seen more clearly below. The benefit to having an extra pair of water cooling ports is if a user wishes to run multiple loops. This is common for computers with multiple graphics cards, where the heat from them can be too much to be on the same loop as the CPU, at least with most radiators. Also, below the power supply's location, there are four rubber feet that support the power supply itself and help isolate some more of the noise from vibration, three of which can be seen in the picture below.
The front of the case is where all the drives are housed. Both the 5.25" external and 3.5" internal bays use a toolless mounting procedure. The toolless 5.25" bays implement the same process of most toolless harddrive procedures, as two "rails" are placed on either side of the drive, secured by pins in the screw holes, and slid into the bay. When in position, they click and stay locked. To release the drive, the rails are pinched and the drive slides out in the same manner that it was slid in. With the hard drives, I will mention first that I prefer to turn my hard drives around in a computer case so that more wires can be concealed and a cleaner layout can be presented. I am not alone with this method, as many computer builders do this for the same reasons as I do. However, this is when I found a drawback to this case's design. When turning the hard drives around and installing them, they were unable to go far enough in to be locked. On an IN WIN case I owned over a year ago, this was an issue then as well. I hope that IN WIN can alter its design to accommodate this practice. Two pictures below show the two steps of installing a drive, using the included toolless drive rail tray, and also show the removable 5.25" to 3.5" adapter tray as it was installed from the factory.
The large 220mm side intake fan is stated to run off of 12v and draws 0.23A. It is lit by blue LEDs, which can be switched on and off by an external slider, and is powered by a 4-pin header. The other three included fans are 120mm, with the top and rear installed as exhaust and the front as intake. These 120mm fans are labeled as 12v with a current draw of 0.32A, using 3-pin headers. At normal operating speed, these fans are relatively quiet, well below many's threshold level.
Everything on this case looks great so far. There is plenty of room, it is solid, appears that it would flow well, and IN WIN has even taken measures for sound dampening. The one drawback I mentioned earlier was that the hard drives will not lock in when installed backwards to conceal wires, but they do fit in snugly, so I don't really worry about them sliding out while moving the case around. During installation, I noticed a huge boo-boo on IN WIN's part - it may only be on the x58 motherboard used, but the access hole in the motherboard tray is over a quarter inch too low! This makes the access hole practically useless for a lot of motherboards.
A little disappointed with the misplacement of the access hole, but it's time to test this case where it really counts. With everything installed, the case is ready to be put on the "hot" seat.