In Win Dragon Rider Case Review

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In a bit of a change, instead of reviewing a heat sink today I will be taking a look at a new enthusiast case by In Win Development. In Win is one of the older companies around in the chassis building industry, founded in 1985 and based in Taiwan. Since then, they have also branched out and built external hard drive enclosures and power supplies. The Dragon Rider case series is one of their premier enthusiast case offerings designed for building full sized systems, and today we will see if they delivered a case for the enthusiast to use as a basis for their newest build.

Specifications

(Courtesy of In Win Development)

Case Size: Full Tower Chassis
Material: 1.0~0.8mm SECC Steel
Power Supply:
1. ATX 12V
2. PSⅡ Size and EPS
Dimensions (HxWxD): 556 x 239 x 578mm (21.9” x 9.4” x 22.8”)
I/O Expansion Slots: PCI-E/PCI/AGP SlotX8
Thermal Solution:
1. Rear 12cm Fan x 1
2. Front:12cm Fan x 1
3. Top:12cm Fan x 1 (Maximum Supports 12cm Fan x 2)
4. Side:22cm LED Fan with switch x 1 (Maximum Supports 12cm Fan x 6)
5. Water-Cooling Hole Ready
6. 12cm LED Side Fan
Motherboard Form

Factors Supported:

1. E-ATX(12″X13″)
2. ATX
3. Micro-ATX
Drive Bays: 1. External 5.25″ x 5

2. Includes FDD Cage x1(5.25” converted into 3.5”)

3. Internal 3.5”x6
4. 2.5” x 1
Front I/O(Ports):
1. e-SATA×2
2. IEEE 1394A×1(FireWire)
3. USB 2.0 x 2
4. HD/AC’97 Audio
5. USB 3.0 x 2

As you can see by the specifications that In Win has provided, this is a large and very well equipped enclosure.

Packaging

The box for this case measures 26 inches tall by 23 11/16 inches wide by 11 1/16 inches deep (660 X 602 X 281 mm) and weighs 31 pounds (14.06 kilograms). It has a nice, shiny finish with some really nice artwork. It was sturdily built and arrived at my house in fairly good shape, with no major damage to the box or contents. There were a couple of spots where the outer layer was punctured, but it didn’t extend to the inside wall of the box itself.

The front side of the box has a pretty neat dragon graphic with a knight riding on its back, as well as a picture of the case. On the end of the box, you see the specifications printed as stated above. The other end has several pictures of case features highlighted in little shield-like graphics. The back side has a picture of the right side of the case, which highlights two features of this case design – the inclusion of offset reliefs on the off-side case door to better handle wire management, and the inclusion of a 120 mm fan to blow air into the case on the back side of the motherboard. This is a feature I haven’t seen before in a case and I am curious if it will actually help with cooling.

Box Front

Box Front

Back side

Back side

Box side

Box side

Other side of box

Other side of box

After pulling the case out of the box, you find it supported by foam packaging on each end of the case; the case itself is enclosed inside a plastic bag. Once out of the foam and bag, you find the front I/O panel protected from scratches by a plastic applique that peels off.

Opening box

Opening box

Pulled out of box

Pulled out of box

Other side, pulled out of box

Other side, pulled out of box

Right side of case

Right side of case

Left side of case

Left side of case

Back side

Back side

Front side

Front side

Exterior Tour

The fit and finish of this case is pretty darn good. It feels sturdy and has a rough, matte black finish. This might make cleaning dust off the case problematic, but it looks very good in my opinion. The top side of the case has a mesh grill for mounting two fans (only one is installed) and the fan mounting holes are spaced at 15 mm between fans. This is good news for the water-cooling lovers out there, as this is the fan spacing that all major radiator manufacturers have settled on nowadays. Adding a dual fan radiator to the top of the case should be a breeze.

In front of the fan/radiator mounting grill, you find the front I/O panel with the power and reset switches, power LED and hard drive LED integrated into a nicely finished package. The I/O panel also includes headphone and microphone jacks, two e-SATA ports, a 1394a port, two USB 2.0 ports. It also has two USB 3.0 ports fed from pass through cables that you route through the case to the motherboard I/O panel. The USB 3.0 feature is pretty nice in my opinion, as it lets you move access to the USB 3.0 ports included on the back side of the newer motherboards to the front of the case.

On the bottom of the case, there are four sturdy feet that can swivel out to give a more tip-resistant stance on the case. I have seen this type of feet used on Antec cases in the past and they help quite a bit in giving the case a stance that is a lot more tip-resistant, especially on carpeted floors.

Front I/O panel. 2xUSB 2, 2xUSB 3, 1x1394a, 2-eSATA, headphone and mic input.

Front I/O panel. 2xUSB 2, 2xUSB 3, 1x1394a, 2-eSATA, headphone and mic input.

Top side of case

Top side of case

The left side door has a 220 X 38 mm fan mounted on it. Like the one on the other case side panel (that feeds air into the back side of the motherboard tray), this is a blue LED fan. Unlike the off-side fan, this big fan has a switch mounted on the case door that allows you to turn the fan LEDs off if you want.

Left side exterior view.

Left side exterior view.

Right side exterior view.

Right side exterior view.

The front of the case is finished in plastic and mesh grill. The mesh is a hexagon pattern, with approximately 4 mm openings across the flats. Inside of this, there is a secondary mesh that is much finer, which will catch a lot of the dust and lint and help keep the case cleaner. The case front is held on by six circular clips that simply push into holes in the steel case behind it. It is fairly easy to remove and re-install this case front and there are no wires going to it, which makes removal for cleaning dead easy.

fine mesh screen inside front panel should help keep the crud out of the case.

Fine mesh screen inside front panel should help keep crud out of the case.

Front view.

Front view.

On the back side of the case, you see the opening for installing your PSU at the bottom of the case, with the motherboard mounted in a conventional manner above it. This could potentially cause a problem when running the 4 or 8 pin 12v cables from your PSU to the motherboard, but In Win has addressed this problem as I will explain later.

There is one 120 mm exhaust fan mounted on the back side of the case in the usual spot, next to the I/O shield cutout. There are 8 slots to install cards on the motherboard and all have a nice mesh type shield in them from the factory. At the top of the back side, there are four grometted holes for running cables or cooling hoses into the case.

Rear I/O panel. Note the 2 pass-thru cables for the USB 3 front I/O panel.

Rear I/O panel. Note the 2 pass-thru cables for the USB 3 front I/O panel.

Accessories

Included with this case is a user manual that is more like a poster instead of a booklet, with instructions and pictures in several languages.  Also included are the usual accessories such as screws, motherboard standoffs and a small speaker mounted on a motherboard header, plus some extra parts that you don’t normally see included with a case.

Remember my remark above about the run from the power supply to the 12v connectors being a long distance? Well, In Win addressed this with the inclusion of two 12 volt extender cables, which measure 14 inches between the connectors. This will allow you to reach even the most remote 12 volt connector on your motherboard with ease and also addresses motherboards that use two 8 pin 12 volt connectors such as dual processor server boards.

Also included in the accessory package are 24 specialized screws for mounting up to six 120 mm fans in the case door grommets, 4 twist type plastic cable holders, two extra rubber support feet for mounting long power supplies, and two Molex to 3 pin fan adapters. All in all, a very comprehensive and welcome accessory pack. By the way, the motherboard standoffs fit a standard 3/16 nut driver, making it easy to install the standoffs.

Instruction poster that comes with case.

Instruction poster that comes with case.

Accessories included with the case.

Accessories included with the case.

Interior and Features Tour

Looking inside the case, you can see that In Win also painted the interior a matte black color, with no obvious imperfections in the finish. This is a welcome addition and I wish more manufacturers would finish the interior of their cases. The case design is tool-less, with the hard drives and optical drives mounting on rails. The rails are carried in a nice plastic tray that is mounted in the lowest 5.25″ drive bay and is removable if you need to use that bay.

At the front top, the drive bay there has a 5.25″ to 3.5″ converter tray mounted, in case you have a 3.5″ drive you need to mount with access to the front of the case (such as a floppy drive). The cover for that bay on the case front also has a removable 3.5″ insert. This can also be moved around and used in any front bay if you don’t want it mounted in the top bay.

The hard drive bay is mounted directly below the 5.25″ bays and arranges the hard drives sideways instead of front to back. I find that this arrangement makes it easier to manage wiring and keeps the power and SATA connectors well out of the way. Unlike the HAF922 case I have, this case mounts the connectors on the hard drives towards the left case side instead of to the off side. Personally, I would rather it turned around the other way like the HAF, but it still works well. The intake case fan blows through this area of the case, giving a decent amount of airflow to the hard drive area.

In between the optical and hard drives, there is an interior caddy that will mount a 2 1/2 inch hard drive or SSD. So In Win has given you room for mounting up to seven hard drives in this case.

5 1/4 bay area, top front of case.

5 1/4 bay area, top front of case.

Lower front case interior, with intake fan and light for front emblem.

Lower front case interior, with intake fan and light for front emblem.

Inside left side view of case

Inside left side view of case

Inside, right side view of case

Inside, right side view of case

Drive bay and hard drive rails and caddy

Drive bay and hard drive rails and caddy

Bottom side of caddy has rest of hard drive rails

Bottom side of caddy has rest of hard drive rails

Hard drive cage area of case, loaded with old hard drives to show the bay full

Hard drive cage area of case, loaded with old hard drives to show the bay full

2 1/2" hard drive/SSD caddy

2 1/2" hard drive/SSD caddy

Front bay 5 1/4 to 3 1/2" adapter caddy

Front bay 5 1/4 to 3 1/2" adapter caddy

Going to the bottom of the case in the PSU area, you see a screened ventilation hole below the PSU mounting position. This will allow your PSU to pull in cool outside air from below your case. Unfortunately, to clean this screen you will have to unscrew the PSU from the case back and kind of lift it out of the way to get access to the screen area. It’s too bad they didn’t just make a slot to the back side of the case for the screen to slide into, but I think that the screen could be cleaned just by moving the PSU around and out of the way without removing it totally from the case.

In Win did provide for mounting the PSU either with the fan facing down as normal or with the fan facing up, if you are sitting the case on something that impairs airflow like a carpeted floor. I like that kind of flexible thinking and it somewhat makes up for the lack of an easily removable screen for the PSU.

PSU screen, note that it isn't mounted on rails for removal

PSU screen, note that it isn't mounted on rails for removal

Back side view of psu mounted in normal fashion

Back side view of PSU mounted in normal fashion

Inside view of psu mounted normally (excuse the dust which I didn't clean off)

Inside view of PSU mounted normally (excuse the dust which I didn't clean off before the picture)

PSU mounted in upside down orientation in case

PSU mounted in upside down orientation in case

Back side view of psu in upside down orientation

Back side view of PSU in upside down orientation

The motherboard tray in this case isn’t removable, but that isn’t such a big deal since they have given you plenty of open spaces to route your wiring behind it.  The add-in card area of the case is tool-less, with cammed hinges to hold the slot covers and add-in cards such as your video card in place and they worked well with the 7900GTX video card I used (which is a 2 slot design).

Motherboard tray with board mounted

Motherboard tray with board mounted

Another view, showing case interior. Note the generous holes for cable management.

Another view, showing case interior. Note the generous holes for cable management.

Plenty of room around processor area

Plenty of room around processor area

Again, plenty of room and easy to route wires on this case

Again, plenty of room and easy to route wires on this case

Now moving to the removable sides of the case, you see some more “out of the box” thinking going on here. On the right removable case panel (looking at it from the front), you will notice that In Win has given you extra room for routing the wiring behind by giving the side some attractive looking stamped bulges in the side panel, which is a feature I have never run across before in a case.

At the top rear of the right side panel, there is a 120 X 25 mm LED fan mounted in a screened relief area that blows outside air into the cutout on the motherboard tray for mounting heatsinks. This will help keep the back side of your motherboard cooler, since normally that space is pretty dead as far as air movement goes. They also have another vented area on the right side case cover a bit lower, seemingly to help vent excess air from building up on the back side of the motherboard tray.

Right side case door

Right side case door

Again, looking from this side you can see that In Win left plenty of open areas for cable management and the design is very easy to work with. The motherboard tray also has a very generous hole cut in it in the processor mounting area of most motherboards, giving you access to mount heat sinks or water blocks that use a back side mounting bracket. This is a very nice feature and it makes it much easier to mount large heat sinks or water blocks without having to remove the motherboard from the case and this cutout also serves another purpose for cooling in this case design also, which I will describe below.

Note the generous cutout in motherboard tray for backplate installation

Note the generous cutout in motherboard tray for backplate installation

Plenty of room to hide wiring

Plenty of room to hide wiring

The left side case door also shows some forward thinking on In Win’s part, but is the one area I find where they really dropped the ball in their case design. The left side door has a big screen area that is offset to the outside about 1/2 inch and in that space they mounted a humongous 220 X 38 mm fan that blows inward. The rest of that case door has some foam insulation applied to it for quieting purposes.

It looks really nice, but once you mount a tower style heat sink, you immediately run into a clearance problem between the heat sink and that big fan. There simply isn’t enough clearance to use that big fan in it’s original mounting position with a TRUE-sized heat sink. The side also has alternate mounting holes for mounting up to six 120 mm sized fans instead of the 220 mm fan and I was able to shift that big fan downwards and rotate it around 40 degrees and get it’s mounting holes to align with some of the holes in the case door so I could use the fan with a TRUE Rev. C heat sink with 120 x 25 mm fans installed on it.

I don’t think it would leave enough clearance with a heat sink such as a Thermalright Silver Arrow or Noctua NH-D14, since they are so much wider. Even with the fan shifted, it was very close to not having enough room for the TRUE’s fan mounting clips to clear. With all the thought that In Win put into this case design, it is simply inexcusable for them to not think of something as simple as fan to heat sink clearance for high performance cooling systems. Looking at their door design, this clearance issue could be avoided if they had simply offset the screen area another 30 mm, which would then give extra room between the fan and tower style high performance cooling solutions. It would have made the case that much wider, but that would be a very acceptable trade-off to alleviate the clearance issues.

This side panel is also set up for mounting up to six 120 mm fans on the case side too, but if you mount all six fans on it you still have fan-to-heat-sink interference. I tried mounting 120 mm fans on the side and the most I could mount without clearance issues were four. I didn’t actually test in this configuration, but rather tested with the 220 mm fan shifted downwards, since I would have had to make myself a custom wire harness to feed power to the 120 mm fans and I did get enough clearance to test this case with the 220 mm fan mounted on the side door.

Left side door, fan in stock position

Left side door, fan in stock position

Interference between door fan and heatsink in stock position

Interference between door fan and heatsink in stock position

Four-120 mm fans installed in door for alternate cooling solution

Four-120 mm fans installed in door for alternate cooling solution

Not enough room between door and heat sink to mount fans in the 2 open spots on door.

Installed and Tested

To test this case out, I decided to move my heat sink test components over from my old modified Antec 1040 clone and compare temps. First, I completed a test run with the system in the old case with a TRUE Rev. C heat sink with two Gentle Typhoon AP-15 fans running in a push-pull configuration and recorded the high temp, low temp and average temps on all four CPU cores. The processor was running the standard 4.0 GHz settings at which I usually test heat sinks.

I then removed the motherboard, ram and heat sink together as a package without disturbing the mount and mounted the components from the old test case into the Dragon Rider and re-ran the same test with the same parameters and recorded the temps twice. I did this not so much to prove which case was coolest as much as to check out how the modifications to the exhaust fan area on my old Antec clone case had brought it up to today’s cooling standards.

I wasn’t worried about this Dragon Rider working well, as the layout of the case pretty much guarantees that it would have good case ventilation. What did surprise me though was that the old Antec clone actually showed a little over a degree better average CPU temps than the Dragon Rider. That is why I re-ran the test a second time in the Dragon Rider and the temps on the second run pretty well matched the temps in the first run.

I think that slight temperature difference is due to the old Antec clone being closed in at the CPU mounting area and the fact that I have two 50+ CFM 92 mm  fans mounted there, which is more airflow than the one 120 mm fan mounted as an exhaust fan on the Dragon Rider in the same spot, plus the fact that the Dragon Rider has an open mesh side on it. The Dragon Rider was a much quieter case though.

Very little difference between the clone and Dragon Rider cases.

Very little difference between the clone and Dragon Rider cases.

Antec clone & Dragon Rider, side by side

Antec clone & Dragon Rider, side by side

Left side view, powered up

Left side view, powered up

Front view, under power

Front view, under power

Right side fan, blowing air under motherboard

Right side fan, blowing air under motherboard

Final Thoughts and Conclusion

First, I would like to commend In Win on doing a little “thinking outside the box” with this enclosure. The reliefs built into the right case side cover as well as the inclusion of a fan on that side to blow through the back side of the motherboard were brilliant additions. The reliefs help give more room for wire management and the fan addresses a dead air issue that every other enclosure I’ve used never addressed.

The fit and finish on the case are good and at a selling price of $159.99 at Newegg ($149.99 after MIR and free shipping) it compares favorably to other full-tower style cases such as the Cooler Master 932 and HAF X.

But I have a couple of issues with this case. First is the fact that the left side door design doesn’t give room for proper clearance of high-end cooling solutions with the included 220 X 38 mm door fan. Simply making that left side door have an extra 30 mm offset relief would have alleviated this problem in the first place.

Second, while it’s not a real killer mistake, not making the screen area for the PSU intake accessible without having to dismount the PSU is also a big oversight. Adding the screen to a slidable tray or bottom mounted trap door underneath the PSU would have been the way to go here, and I have seen that done with other case designs.

With those two corrections, this case would have seen me giving this case an Overclockers Approved award. But it also doesn’t deserve to be hit with the Overclockers Meh Award either, because it isn’t some mediocre piece of junk. It is simply a good case with a couple of flaws. Both flaws can generally be worked around too, which isn’t something that a Meh award winner would likely be able to do. So I won’t give any kind of official rating for the case.

If you are in the market for a good full tower case and don’t mind working around the flaws, this is a good choice for you in it’s price bracket.

Once again, I would like to thank In Win Development for sending this case for review. And I hope that if they do redesign the left side case door, they send me the new door to try with this otherwise excellent case.

– Jim Gautreaux (muddocktor)

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Discussion
  1. Anyone know if a 120x3 rad would fit on the side panel, i see it has room for fans but i've never watercooled before and don't know if rads need any extra space for mounting. I'm really thinking about getting this case.
    Thank you, Jmtyra. Yeah, the case is pretty nice. All they really need to do to improve it is to give it an easily accessible access to the filter for the psu fan and just build some more offset into the case door for heatsink clearance. My HAF922 would also have the same clearance problem if it came with a fan installed on the case door, but it doesn't come like that. And the fan most probably wouldn't give any clearance problems if you went with a water loop in the case. The top is set up nicely for a 2X120 mm fan rad.

    Before I left the house to come to work I set up an H70 on it just to see how it would do and had no problems mounting it with the door side fan shifted downwards.