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The past few years have seen In Win release several unique PC case designs that challenge conventional design methods. The D-Frame Mini continues that trend and brings a smaller footprint than its larger sibling, the D-Frame. The In Win D-Frame Mini is intended for small form factor (SFF) builds as it only supports mITX sized motherboards. This is definitely a niche product for those enthusiast PC users looking to stand out from the crowd regardless of cost! The D-Frame Mini has a lot to offer if you’re in that group of PC users, so let’s get to work and see what In Win has in store for us.
Specifications and Features
In case you’re not aware, the D-Frame Mini is an open-air chassis built with TIG welded aluminum tubes that make up the frame. Even with its support for only mITX motherboards, In Win managed support for full-size power supplies, graphics cards, and CPU air coolers (more on this later). All specifications and features courtesy In Win.
|In Win D-Frame Mini Specifications|
Aluminum Metal Plate
|Internal Drive Bay||3.5″ or 2.5″ x 3|
2.5″ x 2
|M/B Form Factor||Mini-ITX|
|Power Supply||ATX12V, PSII and EPS (Up to 220mm)|
|I/O Port||USB 3.0 x 2, HD Audio|
|I/O Expansion Slots||PCI-E Slot x 2|
Supports High-end Graphic Card
(Length: up to 340mm,Height: up to 150mm)
– 120mm Bottom Fan x 2
– 240mm Liquid Cooling Radiator
– CPU Heatsink up to 165mm
|Dimension||405 x 230 x 501mm|
(16” x 9” x 19.7”)
|Net Weight||5.25 kg (11.57 lbs)|
|Gross Weight||7.22 kg (15.9 lbs)|
|Available Colors||Orange/Blue – Black/red – Red/black|
The high-level features can be summed up nicely by looking at the two images below. The first image provides you with the aesthetic value each of the three color choices offer. Additionally, the D-Frame Mini offers a topside carrying handle, shockproof grommets, water cooling support, and can be positioned six different ways.
The second image describes the aluminum framework, design features, and thermal solution. Worth noting here is the precision engineering that In Win puts into each of these D-Fram Minis. They are each hand crafted and TIG welded to ensure long lasting quality. Even the two windows found on each side are not your standard plexiglass found on most PC cases, but are made from tempered glass. Nice touch there.
The colorful box does a nice job of giving the potential customer a good deal of information about the D-Frame Mini. The features and specifications are split between the two box sides, while the front and back of the box have nice graphics and pictures of the case itself. All in all, a nice looking and informative retail presentation.
Opening the box finds the accessories sitting on top with the well-protected D-Frame Mini sitting below. The case is wrapped in a nice cloth bag and further protected with two custom fitted Styrofoam blocks. The accessory stack includes a user’s manual, cleaning cloth for the tempered glass windows, and a host of hardware for system assembly. Six plastic cable management clamps are also included to help obtain a tidy look when assembling a system. The last picture below is your first look at the D-Frame Mini once removed from the box. As you can see, today’s review sample is the black/red version.
Up Close Tour of the D-Frame Mini
Beginning with the outside frame area, we’ll start with removing the tempered glass side panels found on each side of the D-Frame Mini. You’ve probably noticed by now that each window is tinted. In order to get the glass off the unit, four thumb screws need to be removed on each side. Once the thumb screws and glass panels are removed, you can see the two-step rubber bushing the glass rests on. The smaller stepped area of the bushing is what actually fits in the matching hole on the glass panel. The bushings do a good job of keeping the glass protected from all sides.
Because the D-Frame Mini has the capability to rest on any of its six sides, a total of 16 rubber grommets are installed to the outer frame. The grommets are lightly glued in place, but can be peeled off and relocated if desired. There really isn’t any need to do that, but it can be done.
At the front is where the I/O connections are located, In Win provides two USB 3.0 ports and the headphone and Mic jacks. At the top if the I/O panel are the power and reset buttons. The power button will illuminate when the system is powered on, but it does feel a bit wobbly and not up to the same quality as the rest of the case. The reset button is so small that it will most likely require a pointed device of some sort to depress it. At the very bottom of the I/O panel is a HDD LED activity light.
The back of the D-Frame Mini is pretty wide open to accommodate large power supplies up to 220 mm in length. The PSU bracket is welded to the frame and provides the option to install the PSU in two different locations. This gives you the flexibility to choose where your PSU wiring begins its journey into the main body.
The top of the case has a grab handle that’s welded to the frame and has a knurled area to help you keep a good grip. Off to the side of the grab handle, you can see the dual PCI expansion slot bracket. There isn’t much to show on the bottom, except for the 240 mm fan bracket; but we’ll save that until we get to the interior area.
The back side of the motherboard tray has plenty of cable routing holes that have rounded edges to prevent damage to any cables. There are ample threaded hole locations that allow you to use the cable clamps included in the accessories. It’s a bit surprising that In Win neglected to put a CPU cooler access hole here. I can’t imagine adding the access hole would add much (if anything) to the cost. Up to two 2.5″ drives can be mounted behind the motherboard tray, but it comes at the expense of losing one cable pass-through hole for each SSD added. There seems to be plenty of room at the back of the motherboard tray where alternate provisions could have been made to install 2.5″ drives without interfering with the pass-through holes.
Moving to the interior, we see the mounting holes for a mITX motherboard, ample cable pass-through holes, and the three HDD trays. The HDD trays are each attached with two spring loaded thumb screws, which keeps them attached to the tray even after it’s removed. Each tray will accept either 2.5″ or 3.5″ drives. Directly behind each HDD tray are cutouts for the data and power cables to pass through. In the upper-left corner is the expansion slot bracket. By looking at the expansion slot bracket location, we now know the motherboard’s I/O ports will be accessible from the top of the case. The D-Frame mini will support graphics card up to 340 mm in length and CPU air coolers as tall as 165 mm.
At the bottom of the D-Frame Mini is a 240 mm bracket that can be used to install a pair of 120 mm fans. The bracket is held in place with two more spring loaded thumb screws. Unfortunately, In Win does not include any fans with the case, which will add to the cost of your system build. You’ll definitely want to install a couple fans in that bracket to get some air moving around your components.
The case wiring is standard fare you see on most chassis. The HD Audio cable and USB 3.0 cable are sleeved with rubber, and the I/O panel wiring is decked out with a braided sleeve. The power LED wiring has a 2-pin and 3-pin tail making for unnecessary wire clutter. You could simply have a 2-pin wire lead with each pin separated and accomplish the same thing.
Water cooling is possible with either an all-in-one unit or a custom setup. I set the Swiftech H220 with fans in the bracket and it fit; but because of its odd reservoir on one end, the fans didn’t quite reach the bottom of the fan bracket. Any AIO cooler without the odd reservoir the H220 has would probably be a better fit and sit further inside the fan bracket.
To give you an idea how a custom water cooling setup might be installed, I grabbed a 240 mm radiator with fans and set it in the bracket. It fit perfectly, and you’d probably have room to install a pair of fans on top of the radiator for a push/pull setup. The most logical place to install the pump and reservoir would be on one of the HDD trays. The best use of space would probably entail using a pump/reservoir combination unit. The one I show pictured below is a little larger than you’d probably want to use, but you get the idea. There are many different pump/reservoir combination units available that are much smaller than what’s in the picture below, so finding one that would easily fit shouldn’t be a problem. The Alphacool DC-LT pump with matching reservoir comes to mind as something that would fit nicely.
Putting it all Together
One of the annoyances with a standard mITX chassis is the lack of room available when building a system in them. That’s not a problem with the D-Frame Mini. It feels more like you’re working inside a mid-tower chassis when you begin assembling components inside.
Because we already showed you a couple possible water cooling scenarios, this time we’ll assemble an air cooled system. We started by installing the motherboard with the CPU fan attached. You can see how much room there is all around the motherboard once it was in place.
Next up, we installed the power supply and HDDs. There was plenty of room to install the Corsair 850 watt PSU and still leave room to route the cables behind the motherboard tray.
After adding a couple fans to the bottom bracket, it was just a matter of wiring everything up. The air flow scheme we chose to use was a bottom-to-top method. The fans in the bracket are blowing air upward towards the CPU cooler, and the CPU cooler blows air up and out of the top of the case.
The last group of pictures below are of the completed build. Definitely a unique looking system, but that’s what the D-Frame Mini is all about!
Ok, let’s get the elephant in the room dealt with first thing… the price. Currently, the price is $309 at Newegg, but luckily there is a $100 rebate available making the final cost a much more palatable $209. That’s really not a bad price considering the heavy -duty aluminum construction and that each unit is hand crafted. However, if you’re considering purchasing a D-Frame Mini any time soon, take advantage of the current rebate offer while it’s available.
There is little doubt the D-Frame Mini is a unique case that will get the attention of anyone that catches a glimpse of it. You have to hand it to In Win for continuously pushing the design envelope and coming up with products like this. It’s anyone’s guess what they’ll come up with next, but we’ll be excited to find out!
There is plenty of room to work when assembling a system in the D-Frame Mini, and being able to house full-size video cards, CPU coolers, and power supplies is a remarkable achievement for a SFF chassis. As long as you don’t block any cable routing holes by installing a 2.5″ drive behind the motherboard tray, the cable management scheme is very effective. There always seems to be a cable routing hole right where you need it. The tempered glass side panels top off the looks just right and add another layer to the unique looks of the case.
We only came up with a few minor nitpicks about the D-Frame Mini, but nothing that could be considered a deal breaker. Probably the most glaring omissions are the lack of a CPU cooler access hole and perhaps not including a couple 120 mm fans to the package.
If you’re one of those people who like a PC that stands out from the rest of the run-of-the-mill systems out there, the D-Frame Mini should grab your attention. It’s unique, great looking, full of features, and a lot more affordable with the current rebate that’s available.