In Win 301
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
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.
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