High End Case Roundup: In Win, Lian-Li, & SilverStone

5 thumbs up
If you love building computers, you probably appreciate a good case or chassis. While there are plenty of excellent products available for a song, there’s also an upper echelon of models that cost quite a bit and offer all the premiere features you could hope for. While it seems as though there’s a lot of similarity between low-end and midrange cases, once you get to a certain price point, various companies take things in very different directions. The three premium chassis we’re looking at in this roundup certainly bear that out.

In Win, Lian Li, and SilverStone all make some beautiful cases. And when we asked them to send us one of their top of the line products, they all responded in kind: In Win with the unique H-Frame, Lian Li with the tall, all-black PC-X2000FN, and Silverstone with the Fortress FT02. (Regular readers will remember the H-Frame as a CES 2013 darling that overshadowed its less sexy but still interesting younger brother, the D-Frame.)

We dug in with these cases to evaluate their design, construction quality, and features, as well as the experience of installing and managing a build within each. And of course, we put them through some thermal tests to compare their cooling capabilities.

Each chassis had something unique to offer, but all three shared at least two things in common: They’re all tasty eye candy that sport steep sticker prices, and they’ll all make you wish you owned one. Let’s get cracking.

In Win H-Frame
In Win’s H-Frame case is a traffic-stopper. Not only is the silver, blue, and gold color scheme sharp and eye-catching, the thing looks like slices of a spaceship with its parallel, metal plate design. In Win’s concept here was essentially to build a case that is itself a giant passive heatsink.



There’s more than ample space for air to pass between the eleven metal plates (we’re counting the side panels) to begin with, but the all-metal construction is also designed to wick away heat. In Win is so confident of the H-Frame’s ability to cool its components that the chassis doesn’t ship with any fans at all. If you decide that you do want some wind power, however, there are two 120mm fan mounts in the H-Frame, one on the front of the chassis and one in the rear.



     

Despite all of the metal--and we do mean all, for there is not a trace of anything but metal on this thing--the H-Frame is surprisingly light. However, it also seems rather small for such a high-end product; for example, our (large) CPU cooler didn’t clear the side panels, and made slight contact, which would bend the panels out over time. We also had a rough time getting our PSU mounted. There was nowhere to route the 8-pin PSU connector that our MSI motherboard requires either, other than through the interior of the case and across all the components, which is a minor but somewhat odd oversight. More room behind the motherboard try would be appreciated.



     

For that matter, as you can see in the photos, there are a lot of cables inside; the H-Frame comes loaded with its own, including for SATA power and data cables, so unless you have a modular PSU, you’re going to be stuck with a mess of cabling that you can’t do much with other than zip tie them together in something resembling order. That said, the reason that the SATA cables are included is because all three HDD trays have SATA mounts, so you can just slip a drive into the tray and pop it back, and it will be connected. (In Win calls them “EZ Swap Modules”, but we just call them convenient.)

  

Despite the H-Frame having three 3.5-inch HDD trays (including one with a 2.5-inch converter bracket) and a dedicated 2.5-inch tray, there’s only one 5.25-inch drive tray. There are also 7 expansion slot locations, which is adequate. 
 

Article Index:

1 2 Next
0
+ -

Why cant we load pictures ladies and gents?

TcM

0
+ -

In Win H-frame is an dust collector or not ?

0
+ -

That H-Frame is a cool looking design. I would actually want to use something like that. Sadly, when I went searching for where to buy it, NewEgg had it listed as discontinued.

The Lian-Li is 'clean' looking, but I don't like how the system is laid out, nor how the heat would travel through it. Essentially, to me, it seems too 'closed up' and I don't like the HDD's position at the top of the case which doesn't appear to have an output heat vent.

The Fortress FT02 Looks like it has a nicer setup than the Lian-Li, but when I look at your thermal testing, it shows that the Lian-Li was actually the 'coolest' running case of the three. I was surprised. I also wished that you had included a thermal test with the H-Frame having the exhaust fan even though it wasn't included in the default setup. That would have been interesting data to know as well.

0
+ -

Closed up is good. The separate compartments allow for much better cooling.

0
+ -

H-Frame might be good for a silent, completely passively cooled build, maybe even water, but thats about it.

I dont remember a Lian Li case I didnt like. Maybe the train one... The disc tray at the side would be better for me, as I love a clean looking front, but dislike doors.

I really dislike the Fortress series. I know people like them, I just do not

0
+ -

The H frame is a cool design on paper, never something Id own personally due to dust alone. I agree that on a passive cooled only build it could show some potential, still id pass it up.

Lian Li always makes a decent chassis of outstanding quality, and for how its setup. It looks like they took a design cue from the 800d, having separate zones to keep the noise and heat down is a nice thing. As always the finish is of great quality. I like the ROM drives on the side, nice little touch. Cable routing could be a little better on the mobo side.

The silverstone is a nice chassis, that could be hit or miss depending on how/where its setup. Though I understand WHY, I am not sure how I feel about the GPUs exhausting straight up the top like that (I can imagine a space heater like effect after a few). None the less, silverstone and lian li both have always made some fine chassis, you cant go wrong with either lian li or silverstone.

0
+ -

Shadizzle, I initially shared your concern about the GPU heat on the Fortress, but with three huge fans on the bottom of the case moving air upwards, it wasn't ultimately an issue.

0
+ -

Hey... for you guys worried about dust: I take my machine outside and use my electric leaf blower with a flexible extension hose attached to it to blow all the dust out of my system. I do that about once every couple weeks or so. It's amazing how well 100mph wind will blow the dust right out. Keeps it really nice and clean in there.

When I'm doing it, I hold any fan I'm blowing out with my finger, otherwise it'll make it spin like crazy. I also wear a dust mask while I do it because it will blow out quite a bit of dust. Or... at least it does for me. :)

0
+ -

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I love Lian-Li cases! I was impressed with the H frame when it was announced, how hard is it to get one? I remember it and the D frame were being made in very limited numbers.

0
+ -

The Lian-Li case looks the best to me, but the price is astounding.

1 2 Next
Login or Register to Comment
Post a Comment
Username:   Password: