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

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Test System and Thermal Test

Test System: Our test system consisted of an MSI Z77 MPOWER Big Bang motherboard with an Intel Core i7-3770K (3.5GHz) processor, 2x4GB Kingston HyperX DDR3-1600 (@1333) RAM, a ZOTAC GeForce GTX 260, WD 150GB Raptor HDD, 850W NZXT HALE90 PSU, and Windows Home Premium x64.

We used an infrared thermometer to record CPU, motherboard, graphics card, and hard drive temperatures (in Celsius) after booting the system and letting it idle for 15 minutes. We checked temperatures again after running Prime 95 for 15 minutes, thus achieving both idle and load readings. The ambient temperature was maintained as consistently as possible. Where applicable, such as with motherboard temperatures, we took readings from multiple spots and averaged the results.

When a case came equipped with an integrated fan controller, we ran tests with the fans running both at full bore and at their minimum speed as allowed by the controller.

We used stock fans to test the cases in conjunction with a large dual-fan CPU cooler.

Thermal Testing - Idle

Thermal Testing - Load

We have some interesting angles to look at with these three cases. The In Win H-Frame boldly dares to run sans fans (thereby relying solely on passive cooling and whatever the CPU cooler can accomplish), while the Silverstone and Lian-Li cases come packing loads of them. Additionally, the Lian-Li chassis has a traditional cooling system while the Silverstone utilizes a “heat rises” approach where the motherboard is rotated 90 degrees so that the ports face up to the sky.

Perhaps this was always going to be obvious, but the H-Frame fared the poorest at idle. Although the hard drive remained at roughly the same temperature as the rest of the systems, everything else was a step or two warmer than the competition.

At idle, the Lian-Li and Silverstone cases showed an interesting difference. The Lian-Li’s motherboard and hard drive temperatures were just a bit cooler than the Silverstone's, but the latter's CPU and graphics card temps were slightly better.

Under load, though, you can see that the Lian Li case closed the CPU and graphics card temperature gap between it and the Silverstone chassis. In fact, although the Silverstone mostly kept the CPU the coolest in each test, its motherboard, GPU, and HDD temperatures slide a bit out of kilter; under a full load, it couldn't keep pace with the Lian-Li case.

The In Win case didn't post especially impressive numbers, but it did manage to keep things pretty consistent whether at idle or under load. In fact, the GPU and HDD were actually slightly cooler under load, presumably because when the CPU fans kicked up a notch to chill the warming motherboard components, they gave the GPU and HDD extra airflow that wasn't particularly needed.

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