In Win 301

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We haven’t seen In Win of­fer many sub-ATX cases in its pre­mium lines. The Chopin and 901 are two ex­am­ples, but while they of­fered ex­cel­lent aes­thet­ics and build qual­ity, they weren’t par­tic­u­larly flex­i­ble. What’s more, nei­ther of them of­fered de­cent sup­port for all-in-one liq­uid cool­ers or wa­ter-cool­ing hard­ware, which was a stick­ing point when the 901 was one of the most ex­pen­sive mini-ITX cases ever re­leased.

While the new 301 is mi­cro-ATX rather than mini-ITX, it’s still ex­tremely com­pact, mea­sur­ing less than 400mm tall or deep, shav­ing a cen­time­tre or two off the Frac­tal De­sign De­fine Mini C, and even more if, like In Win’s stated di­men­sions, you dis­count the rear ex­pan­sion slot cover.

Its width is also 10cm less than the De­fine Mini X, yet there’s still space for CPU cool­ers up to 158mm tall, which means many 120mm cool­ers can fit. The case would have ben­e­fit­ted from us­ing an SFX PSU, though, as the ATX PSU mount need­lessly adds height to the case. There’s 330mm of clear­ance for graph­ics cards as well, but only if you leave the front two fan mounts va­cant. Un­for­tu­nately, the rear and base fan mounts are all va­cant too, and there are no fans in­cluded in the box, so the £75 inc VAT price is rather mis­lead­ing given you’ll want to add at least one fan.

The chassis is made from steel, so it weighs around 6.5kg, although some of this weight also comes from the at­trac­tive tem­pered glass side panel, which pops off us­ing a latch at the top. It isn’t light, but this case is ex­tremely sturdy. Mean­while, the ex­te­rior is fairly sparse, with just two USB 3 ports, au­dio jacks, and power and re­set but­tons, all of which are il­lu­mi­nated in red. Move to the un­der­side and you’ll find a large re­mov­able dust fil­ter, plus some shal­low case feet to al­low the bot­tom vents to breath. These vents fea­ture two 120mm fan mounts, which are com­pat­i­ble with dou­ble 120mm-fan ra­di­a­tors, although fit­ting one will quickly eat into the ex­pan­sion slot space – there’s just enough room to mount a half-height ra­di­a­tor and sin­gle row of fans be­neath a sin­gle-slot, wa­ter-cooled graph­ics card.

Be­ing mi­cro-ATX, there’s of course scope for us­ing a dual-GPU sys­tem too, and the bot­tom card at least will ben­e­fit from the vents in the base of the case, although a wa­ter-cooled setup would be a much bet­ter idea, given the close prox­im­ity of graph­ics cards in mi­cro-ATX moth­er­boards. The front has two 120mm fan mounts as well, although there’s no vent in the front of the case. In­stead, the air is drawn up at a right an­gle from the case’s base and through vents on the far side panel, which isn’t ideal, but it’s bet­ter than hav­ing no way to mount ex­tra fans or a ra­di­a­tor.

You can mount a rea­son­ably sized ra­di­a­tor here too. The typ­i­cal 30mm-thick mod­els with all-in-one liq­uid cool­ers will have space for a sin­gle row of fans, as will 45mm-thick ra­di­a­tors. How­ever, the PSU shroud gets in the way of larger ra­di­a­tors, as its end sec­tion goes off at an an­gle – with­out it, you’d be able to fit two rows of fans to a 45mm-thick ra­di­a­tor. In ad­di­tion, we found we couldn’t use an­gled fit­tings with 60mm-thick ra­di­a­tors in this lo­ca­tion, as they fouled this part of the shroud when the ra­di­a­tor was upright – the prefer­able ori­en­ta­tion for bleed­ing air from the sys­tem. This de­sign seems like a bit of an over­sight, and you’ll need to get out the Dremel to re­move it.

In front of the PSU mount, you’ll find a re­mov­able drive cage, with space for a sin­gle 3.5in hard disk or 2.5in SSD, along with a pair of ded­i­cated 2.5in mounts too. This setup keeps the in­te­rior from ca­bles and, although there are no ca­ble-rout­ing holes in the motherboard tray, In Win in­cludes a shroud to hide them and there are ded­i­cated rout­ing holes next to the front fan mount. These holes are a lit­tle clunky as they’re just plugged by snap-off plas­tic cov­ers, rather than rub­ber, but they’re handy for deal­ing with the front panel and graph­ics card power ca­bles, as there’s no room be­hind the motherboard tray.

The chassis is made from steel, so it weighs around 6.5kg

Per­for­mance

With no fans in­cluded as stan­dard, the case re­lies on the CPU fan and PSU to ex­haust air from the case, so not sur­pris­ingly, the CPU delta T of 59°C is higher than any other mi­cro-ATX case we’ve tested, although it’s only 7°C or so

higher than the next warmest re­sult. It’s clear that adding a rear cool­ing fan would im­prove the CPU tem­per­a­ture sig­nif­i­cantly. The GPU delta T of 60°C is equally poor for the same rea­son, but if you in­stalled a fan in one of the bot­tom mounts, point­ing di­rectly at the graph­ics card cooler, the GPU tem­per­a­ture would be much cooler.

Con­clu­sion

Not in­clud­ing any fans in the box is a ques­tion­able de­ci­sion, as you need to spend more money to com­plete your sys­tem. While tem­per­a­tures were high, though, they’re ac­cept­able, and while it isn’t crit­i­cal to im­prove the cool­ing, we def­i­nitely rec­om­mend adding two fans – one in the base and one in the rear, pro­vid­ing air­flow for the graph­ics card and aid­ing the CPU fan in re­mov­ing warm air from the case.

Of course, In Win is clearly ex­pect­ing po­ten­tial own­ers to add liq­uid cool­ing of some de­scrip­tion to the 301, or their own pre­mium fans, so we can’t be too harsh on the out-ofthe-box air-cool­ing prow­ess. Thank­fully, it’s able to cater for liq­uid cool­ing, with plenty of room for ra­di­a­tors and reser­voirs, although some small changes to the in­te­rior could im­prove liq­uid-cool­ing sup­port sig­nif­i­cantly, as well as re­duc­ing the case’s size.

These crit­i­cisms aside, the In Win 301 is rea­son­ably priced, and its tem­pered glass panel and sleek de­sign looks great. It’s also very well built and, as long as you add a cou­ple of fans to it, or your own liq­uid-cool­ing hard­ware, it can pro­vide a sturdy, com­pact home for a pow­er­ful, good­look­ing PC.

The USB 3 ports and au­dio jacks are il­lu­mi­nated with red light on the front The re­mov­able drive cage has two 2.5in mounts and one 2.5/3.5in bay There are plenty of fan mounts, but no fans in­cluded as stan­dard 1 2 3

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