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Review: In Win GRone

by Parm Mann on 27 November 2012, 09:00 3.0

Tags: In Win

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qabpnr

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Introduction

In the market for a simple, sleek chassis? Then stick to the usual suspects, as the likes of Corsair, Antec, Fractal Design and Lian Li have plenty of award-winning options to choose from.

But if you're looking for something a little more... how shall we say it... wacky, than turn your attention to Taiwanese manufacturer In Win. The company is slowly-but-surely making inroads in the UK market and it's doing so with frequently weird and occasionally wonderful enclosures that stand out from the crowd.

 

This loud and ostentatious approach can be hit-or-miss, and the vast majority of In Win chassis are an acquired taste. We developed a soft spot for the XFrame - simply because it looked so damn cool - but the chassis under the spotlight today isn't anywhere near as attractive.

In Win GRone Specification

Case Type Full-Tower
Materials Steel Frame, Plastic Accents
Colours Metallic Grey / White
Motherboard Support E-ATX / ATX / Micro ATX
Drive Bays External 5.25in x 3
Internal 3.5/2.5in x 8
Cooling Capacity Front: 2 x 120/140mm
HDD cage: 1 x 120/140mm
Side: 1 x 120/140mm
Top: 3 x 120/140mm
Bottom: 2 x 120/140mm
Rear: 1 x 120/140mm
Expansion Slots 8
I/O Panel USB 3.0 x 2
USB 2.0 x 2
Mic x 1, Audio x 1
Fan Speed Controller
SATA HDD EZ-Swap
Max. Graphics Card Length 365mm
Dimensions (H x W x L) 562mm x 245mm x 593mm

It's called the GRone (that's G-R-one, not groan) and it's a typical gaming enclosure in the sense that it's a huge steel frame adorned with numerous plastic accents, a large windowed side panel and a semi-rugged appearance. Sort of looks like a toy designed for a ten-year-old, and, of course, it leaves no middle ground; aesthetically speaking, you're either going to love it or hate it.

Looks are subjective, but the GRone's appearance isn't tickling our taste buds for a number of reasons. The 562mm x 245mm x 593mm frame looks bulkier than it already is, the plastic trimmings don't have the quality feel of more premium materials, and In Win appears to have abandoned colour coordination. The chassis itself is available in four models - Metallic Grey or White, each with or without the windowed side panel - and our White review sample has red patterns on the I/O panel, a blue-tinted side window and lime-green push pins on the internal 5.25in drive bays.

It would be a shame to dismiss the GRone based solely on aesthetics, however, as the chassis does have a lot of potential. It starts with the price tag, which, at the time of writing, is £100 for a windowed model or £90 for a standard model. For the fee, you get a full-tower enclosure that's capable of supporting Extended ATX motherboards (as well as standard ATX and Micro ATX), three optical drives, eight internal hard disks and four dual-slot graphics cards.

That's pretty much on par with most gaming enclosures of this size, but In Win attempts to get one-up on the competition by throwing in five fans as standard. A further five fans can be added if you want to max out on air, but liquid cooling is also well catered for with room for a 360mm radiator and a 240mm radiator, and the I/O selection ain't bad, either. The GRone provides four front-facing USB ports (two of the SuperSpeed 3.0 variety), headset and microphone jacks, an integrated fan-speed controller and an external SATA dock dubbed 'EZ-Swap.' Handy to know, but it's a shame the EZ-Swap port isn't married to dedicated railings or an eject button. As it is, attaching or removing a drive is a bit fiddly at best.

Still, there's enough here for extreme builders to have a bit of fun, and if you do go crazy with liquid cooling, you can rest assured that the large extruded side window will put your building prowess on show for all to see. And, judging by the fan count, the GRone should be a powerful performer.

 

But there are a couple of points to be aware of. In order to meet the sub-£100 price point, In Win's using a lot of plastic and the material doesn't fill you with confidence. The chassis' steel core is rigid and stable, but some of the plastic attachments feel flimsy. The removable cover on the front fans, for example, is disguised to look like more optical drive bays (which is actually a nice touch) but its plastic push-to-release clip broke after just a few uses.

Looking really closely reveals a few other cost-cutting measures. The chassis' four feet are plastic instead of a vibration-absorbing rubber, and the white paintwork is OK but not great; it can take on a cream tint in the wrong light and it scratches quite easily. The finish isn't particularly bad, but it doesn't sparkle like a white Graphite Series 600T.

What you end up with is a £100 chassis that looks and feels like a budget solution, but carries a high-end feature set that should allow it to offer top-notch performance without breaking the bank.