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IN-WIN B2 Stealth Bomber Mid-Tower Case Review

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sswilson

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IN-WIN B2 Stealth Bomber Mid-Tower Case Review




Product Number: IW B2
Price: Click Here to Compare Prices
Manufacturer’s Product Page: B2
Warranty: 1 Year
Availability: Now



Even though we have seen their name before here on Hardware Canucks, IN-WIN is anything but a household name to many enthusiasts but they are hell-bent on breaking into the North American market. The last time we saw IN-WIN it was in our http://www.hardwarecanucks.com/forum/hardware-canucks-reviews/4053-win-allure-matx-case-review.html and their product turned out to be surprisingly well thought-out even though it narrowly targeted the female portion of the market. Other than touching on the cute side of case building, IN-WIN has a storied past according to their website:

IN-WIN Development Inc., an ISO 9001 manufacturer of professional computer chassis, power supplies and digital storage devices, is the leading provider of enclosure solutions to system integrators worldwide. Founded in 1986, IN-WIN provides high quality chassis that conform to all safety regulations, as well as unsurpassed customer service.

That’s what IN-WIN has to say for itself and strangely enough, it’s a pretty good description of where IN-WIN has traditionally fit into the computer hardware scene. Since IN-WIN’s primary focus over the years has been with system builders rather than through the retail chain, a person could be forgiven for not being able to describe which IN-WIN products they’ve owned. However, if you’ve had a few computers built for you over the last couple a decades, there’s a pretty good chance one or more of them has been wearing an IN-WIN chassis without you even knowing about it. Indeed, IN-WIN’s reputation for building quality cases at a decent price point was instrumental in its recent second place showing at the 2007 System Builder’s Choice Awards held in Toronto. Getting a thumbs-up like that from the folks who spend their days building systems is a strong indication of what kind of value we can expect from an IN-WIN product.

With that in mind, we’ve got some pretty high expectations for our latest review unit; IN-WIN’s B2 Stealth Bomber Mid Tower Case. At first glance, the B2 certainly looks promising. Features such as tool free installation are fairly common place these days, but IN-WIN takes things up a notch by adding their own special touch with features like vibration dampening rails and fan mounts. There is also a “stealth” side intake, an adjustable VGA cooling system, intake filters all around and finally a powered front panel door opening feature. Priced at around $135, it is definately not the cheapest mid-tower on the market but with all of these features, it could be what alot of you are looking for.

Enough of the intro, let’s dive right in and see what the B2 has to offer...

 
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sswilson

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Features and Specifications

Features and Specifications


INWIN_FEATURES.jpg

As you can see, the B2 offers everything we’d expect from a mid-tower case. By comparing the dimensions with similar cases, it’s obvious that the B2 is not as high as most other cases in this range, and that it is deeper than most. Not listed here is the 5 ¼ bay clearance with the door closed. Most cases with doors limit the use of third party bay inserts such as fan controllers, but we were pleasantly surprised to note that the B2 has at least a ½” clearance when using the lower 5 ¼ bay.
 
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sswilson

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Packaging and Accessories

Packaging and Accessories



IN-WIN obviously has plans to market this case through retail channels since it is pretty far from their usual drab packaging scheme. The front panel displays a picture of the case superimposed over the image of a pilot seated in a fighter cockpit. The “Extreme Series” designation suggests that this case is targeted towards an upscale market which is definately a shift in thinking for the usual-frugal IN-WIN.

The back and side panels offer good images of the inside of the case (including the “Turbo Cooling System”), as well as breakdowns of the various features and specifications of the case.

Overall, everything we need to see is on the packaging and the B2 certainly appears like it’s worth a second look, but the colour scheme seems muted. It doesn’t catch the eye quite as well as we’re used to seeing on retail packaging.


Opening the crate we find the B2 is well protected against shipping damage. It would be nice to find something other than Styrofoam packing but we can’t argue with its ability to keep our precious purchases safe from dents and dings during shipping.


Pulling the case out of the crate we can also see that it is well protected against the elements with a plastic cover so there should be no worries about salt deposits during the long trip overseas. This also protects your purchase against any unwanted scratches as well so it should arrive into your waiting arms without any damage.


Also included in the package is a pictorial assembly manual, a small bag of hardware (it is actually VERY small since this case features tool-less installation) and a single 3 pin fan/molex adapter. As yet another indication of build quality, pre formed card bay covers are included as well. It’s great to know we won’t be cutting ourselves removing the normally thin stamped ones from the back of the case.
 
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sswilson

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Exterior Impressions

Exterior Impressions



In keeping with the stealth bomber design, the exterior of this case is a marvel of understatement. The metallic flat black paint job looks great and the lines of the front panel draw the eye just enough to set it apart from any old run-of-the-mill case. Even all of the exterior markings on the case are aircraft related and the muted pinstriped trim adds just the right touch. While we originally thought this whole "stealth bomber" inspired design would be next to impossible to pull off, upon first glance it looks like IN-WIN hit the nail on the head. Even the B2 inspired side air intake carries the theme forward and offers a unique functional design worthy of the stealth technology it mimics.

Building a “themed” case can be a daunting proposal. Too much, and you risk creating a very narrow interest base, too little, and you fail to set yourself apart from the rest of the pack. With the B2, IN-WIN seems to have found a perfect balance between bling and good looks.


Close up views of the electrically operated cockpit canopy style front door and the flying wing side intake show us the high quality design. Not only do these two features hammer home the aircraft theme, IN-WIN gets high praise from us for turning what could have been simple eye-candy into useful functional parts of the overall package. When this door is plugged into your power supply and your computer is turned on, it will gracefully glide open with the touch of a button. Impressive stuff.

As you can see, the front panel is curved allowing room for fan controllers or other devices with protruding buttons or knobs to be used on this case without being affected by closing the door. The open space you see on the side panel is an intake for the “Dual Fan VGA Turbo Cooling System” and as evidenced by the amount of dust the filters picked up during a week of use, seems to allow for more than adequate airflow. This design actually hides the air intakes extremely well and we were extremely impressed by how well this whole area was engineered.


Moving to the rear, we can see that this case is a top mount PSU design incorporating a single 120mm exhaust fan. The choice of airfield emergency vehicle green/yellow for the fan is questionable as it is the only part of the case exterior which moves away from the stealth theme but that choice doesn’t really have much effect as it is hidden in the rear.

Also pictured are the pre-installed grommets for passing water cooling tubing through the rear of the case. It’s a nice touch which we hope will become standard for all cases but since it isn’t yet a standard, IN-WIN gets another thumbs up from us for including it.


Front panel controls are easy to access, however the large power button (center) is our first disappointment during the course of this review. The triangular design would require a three point support at the outer edges to provide a smooth feel but unfortunately is only supported in the center and thus is quite sloppy.

The red “auto sensing” door operation button is another story altogether. This non-mechanical switch which reacts on contact is without a doubt the crowd pleaser in this reviewer’s house. Expect friends and neighbors to test your patience when they first discover this feature. Also visible in these photos are the HDD light, and an extremely small reset switch (right beside the yellow HDD light).


Easily accessible on the left/front are both the front panel connectors and the front door mechanical disconnect which allows operation of the door without power applied. Be sure to use this feature or you risk damaging the door gears. The inclusion of eSATA connectors, USB connectors, audio, and firewire ensure all of our needs are met and thankfully, the door cover for the panel not only keeps things neat but it also keeps the dust bunnies out.


Both side panels have plastic aircraft style latching mechanisms which look great but in practice are best considered more decorative than functional. Not only is the mounting method relatively fragile but once installed, they don’t latch the sides very well. For proper security of the case sides, owners should seriously consider using a couple of the included case screws to secure them the old fashioned way.


Rounding off our initial look at the exterior of the B2 Stealth Bomber case is a sight to behold adorning the oft-ignored chassis bottom. Audio component grade feet might not normally be visible when a case is sitting on your desk, but these were the first things which caught our eye while unpacking the case. Nothing suggests a well built product better than finding unexpected quality components in areas where a manufacturer could have easily gone with a less expensive solution.

As a whole, the build quality of this case from the outside is quite impressive. Everything fits well, looks great, and for the most part is fully functional without needing to resort to non-functional bling added for strictly aesthetic purposes.
 
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Interior Impressions

Interior Impressions



Our first impressions after taking off the case sides had us running for the spec sheet to verify that this case was designed to accept both ATX and mATX motherboards. Remember the comment about it being shorter than most cases in this range? The internals of this case look extremely tight for an ATX motherboard installation. Part of this first impression is valid as it is not a tall case, mostly though; it’s due to the large cooling tunnel for the video card. We’ll hold off on making judgments until after we’ve installed a full sized motherboard into it but it looks quite tight in there.


This is the culprit; IN-WIN’s “Dual Fan VGA Turbo Cooling System” covers up at least a third of the motherboard tray as well as the HDD bays making the interior look a lot smaller than it actually is.

Tunnels for cooling extra-hot video cards seem to be all the rage these days among case manufacturers. Not to be out done, the B2 offers a truly unique solution; rather than simply forcing air from the case front down the tunnel, IN-WIN uses two 80mm fans to draw fresh air from the side of the case (through the air intake duct) directly onto the video card slots. Depending on the video card’s style of cooling, the B2 offers a further innovation in that the rear fan mount can be rotated 90 degrees allowing that fan to blow air down the length of the video card rather than simply from the top down.

We’ll get a chance to see how well this cooling solution works after we’ve got hardware installed, but once again, IN-WIN has surprised us by including a feature which goes above-and-beyond what we were expecting. Unfortunately, with all this video card cooling CPU cooling may suffer since the natural airflow of the case will be disrupted by the virtual cyclone around the video cards.

The image of the release mechanism for the tunnel (on the right) gives us a good chance to mention the interior colour scheme. Obviously the yellow/green of the rear fan wasn’t just an oversight; somebody consciously chose this scheme. We’ll leave it to the readers decide what they think of it.


Once we drop the plastic tunnel down we can now begin to picture a full sized motherboard fitting into this case. It’s still not a huge amount of room, but certainly not as constricted as we originally thought.

Starting from the right we can see the front 120mm intake fan, a HDD bay designed to hold up to 4 drives, and finally at the rear of the case we can see the tool-less card mounting system.


Zooming in on the motherboard tray for a closer look, we can see that most of the motherboard posts are pre-punched. Normally this would set off a few alarm bells but the quality of metal used on this case appears to have allowed IN-WIN to do it right with sturdy, well defined posts. On the right, the inclusion of a clamp for wire management bodes well for the installation portion of this review. It might seem like a small thing, but with IN-WIN's reputation in system rebuilders' circles, it's a strong indication that they've put some thought into allowing for cable management within this case.


The B2 incorporates a 4 drive HDD bay. Of special note here is the absence of screw holes allowing the drives to be mounted without using IN-WIN's tool-less mounting rails. This is not much of an issue for the Hard Drives, but the main 3 1/2" bays also require the use of the rails so mounting of third party bay controllers which don't follow a standard floppy mounting scheme is not possible.

As you can see, the HDD bay rotates to allow access to the front intake fan. The solid feel of this action is yet another strong indication of the high quality build and design which went into the production of this case.


With the HDD bay rotated, the front intake fan and filter assembly easily slides out to allow for cleaning of the fan filter. This also allows for VERY easy chaging of the front fan if you don't find the stock one for your liking. While we're here, let's talk a little bit about IN-WIN's choice of fans for this build.

Choosing ARX Technology Corp’s CeraDyna series fans for this case was probably quite an easy fit for IN-WIN. ARX may not be household name, but they are well connected within the same “system integrators” circles that IN-WIN frequents and pictured here is their ceramic bearing 120mm FD1212-A3133E. The spec sheet lists it as a 25mm deep, 2100 RPM fan which pushes out 73.70 CFM with a static pressure of 0.12 inch-H2O. Listed at 38 dBA, it’s certainly not the most silent on the market, but it does come with a 3 pin fan connector so noise levels can be controlled by the motherboard. As already mentioned, those whose priorities are noise levels over cooling performance, both the front and back fan mounts will allow for an easy (still tool-less) replacement of these fans with lower RPM 25mm deep ones.

Not pictured here are the 80mm FD1280-A3110E fans used on the video cooling tunnel. These are listed as 25mm deep, 2100 RPM fans which push out 26.20 CFM with a static pressure of .06 inch-H2O and a noise level of 22.60 dBA.
 
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SKYMTL

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Interior Impressions cont'

Interior Impressions continued



Carrying on from the previous page, we’re happy to report that the features list, much like the energizer bunny, just keeps going and going and going. As much as we’d like to stop for a second to comment, it’s best if we held off until the end to start gushing.


Once again we’re assailed with IN-WIN’s choice of colours when examining the tool-less card slot mechanism. Aesthetics aside, this design works quite well since it’s as easy as snapping the levers down onto the top of the card in place of the standard screw. Installed cards are fairly well secured, but the design is such that standard screws can be used without needing to remove the locking mechanism.


Ever had to go digging through your parts bin looking for a set of proprietary drive rails in order to add another HDD to your system? The B2 offers a well engineered 5 ¼ bay storage bin solution. Providing a secure storage device for the rails is quite handy even if we choose not to leave it installed in the 5 ¼ bay (more on that during the installation phase of the review). Included are enough slots for the 4 HDD, 2 Optical, and 2 FDD sets of vibration reducing mounting rails.


Looking at the back of the case side, we’re greeted with a telescoping fresh air vent designed to provide fresh air to the CPU socket. Not only does the vent adjust down for the best fit over a stock Intel fan, it also moves fore & aft to adjust for slight differences in CPU socket placement on various motherboards. The second vent provides an intake for the two internal 80mm fans, and both intakes include filters.

Obviously, the telescoping air vent will either have to be removed or modified in order to install larger after-market air cooling on the CPU. Closer examination shows us that cutting the vent down would be a better solution as the filter is held in place by the base of the vent.


As a hardware enthusiasts’ site, one of the questions we’re often asked about our choice of case is how best to manage wires within the case both for looks and for good airflow. Many mid sized cases appear at first glance to have everything going for them, yet once hardware starts piling up inside of them the reality of poor wire management possibilities rears its ugly head.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, once again we’re struck by how much forethought went into the design of the B2 Stealth Bomber case. Providing space for unused wiring in a mid-tower case is usually an afterthought, but in this case it’s obvious that IN-WIN incorporated wire management into the original design concept. Not only is there ample room in these recessed areas on the back side of the case, there are also plenty of access points for routing wires into them. If that wasn’t enough, including yet another well placed wire clamp further cements our view that IN-WIN had us users in mind when they designed this case.

In concluding our tour of the case internals, what can we say that hasn’t already slipped out during our descriptions of what we've found? Not only does the B2 have every feature we’d want to see in a mid-tower case, all of those features have been well engineered from the bottom up. Make no mistake; this isn’t your father’s IN-WIN case.
 
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Hardware Installation

Hardware Installation



Since we’ve already commented on how small the B2 case looks internally, we’re holding our breath waiting to see how small it actually is. Sure it’s got a truckload of features, but those won’t mean squat unless we can get our gear to fit inside. With that in mind, we scrapped the original idea of displaying both mATX and an ATX motherboard installations. Quite frankly, if an ATX will fit you can be sure we won’t have any issues with a mATX. On top of that, we’ve also thrown in an aftermarket cooler, aftermarket NB cooling, and in an attempt to completely plug up airflow, a relatively warm running IDE HDD paired with both an IDE DVD Rom and Floppy Disk Drive. If this set-up doesn’t plug up the works, we’re not sure what would.

Installation Hardware;

MSI P6N SLI-FI
Intel E1200 @ 2800 1.5V
Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro
Nexus NHP-2200 NB Cooler
2X1 Gig Buffalo PC2 8500 Firestix
Sapphire Radeon HD 3450
HIS Radeon 3870 IceQ3
Maxtor MaXLine Plus II 250GB ATA/133
Pioneer DVR-110DBK
Ultra X-Pro 600W EE


Without any further ado let’s throw it all up in the air and see how it fits!


Well, what do you know? Not only does it all fit, it looks pretty good to boot and it would seem that our original concerns about a tight fit were unfounded. Installation of our hardware into this case was straight forward and and didn't result in any show-stopping issues but there were a few speedbumps. The pictorial manual follows logical steps and covers everything we needed to know in more than enough detail. Since installation of the motherboard in this case was no different than any other case we’ve used, we’ll focus only on those aspects unique to the B2 Stealth Bomber case.


In order to gain clear access to the motherboard tray, it’s best to remove the VGA tunnel. While this is not absolutely necessary (and not suggested in the manual), since this step only requires the removal of two screws, it’s well worth the small effort.

Installation of the optical and floppy drives requires the removal of the front panel but once again, this is quite an easy process which only requires a few tabs to be unlatched. Special kudos go to IN-WIN for using easy release connectors on the front bay wiring harness. It’s a small touch, but it saves us from needing to re-route the harness when we re-install the case front.

As you can see from the above image, even with a full slate of rounded IDE and Floppy cables, there are still plenty of nooks and crannies to allow us stuff them out of the way. Ample space is also available above the motherboard to tuck PSU cables out of the way with a direct line to the upper 5 ¼ bay for stowage of unused cables.

Also worthy of note is the placement of the rear 120mm fan. Situated directly above the card slots, it’s perfectly positioned to draw air over the CPU and NorthBridge coolers.


Folks planning to use extra large CPU cooling should have a close look at this picture and take heed. As you can see, the AC7 Pro is almost tight against the PSU casing. Keep this in mind when choosing an after-market Air Cooling solution for installation into this case since space is at a premium. Given the tight fit directly below the intake for the PSU, it might also be prudent to consider a PSU which uses a rear exhaust fan rather than the more common 120mm intake fan of the Ultra we used for this build.


Using IN-WIN’s patented “Shock-Free Railing System” to install HDDs, FDDs, and optical drives couldn’t be easier. Metal posts on the rails fit into the screw holes on either side of the drive and the whole unit slides into a slot in the HDD cage. Not only is the action silky smooth as it goes in, the latching mechanism has a satisfying click and the drives seem to be secured just as well as they would have been if we had used screws.


During our initial look at internals of the case, we mentioned leaving the rail storage bin out and some of you may have noticed that it isn’t installed in a few of the images above. As you can see in this image, this is purely a point of personal preference. The bin doesn’t take up much more room than a standard optical drive, however some may wish to leave it out to allow for a few more wire management options.


Knowing that most Hardware Canucks members won’t be running a small passively cooled Video Card in their system, we’d be doing everybody a disservice if we didn’t check clearances for today’s larger cards.

At 9” long, the Radeon 3870 pictured above is on par with Nvidia’s 8800GT series cards so you can be sure that the 1 ½“ clearance from the HDD bay will provide plenty of room for mounting PCIe power connectors on the rear. Even with the HDD bay rotated to allow for removal of the 120mm intake fan, there is still well over ½ “ clearance.

That said, cards like the 9800GTX come in at an eye-popping 10 ½“ so even with top mount PSU connectors it would be an extremely tight fit.


Speaking of different length video cards, now is probably a good time to demonstrate the different configurations of the B2’s VGA tunnel fans.

On the left, you can see that we’ve got the rear fan extended so that it blows air down the full length of the Radeon 3450. As you can imagine, directing airflow this way is of great benefit to a passively cooled video card.

Pictured on the right, it’s obvious that this configuration just will not work with longer cards; however that’s not much of an issue with this style of cooler, so having fresh air directed down from the top works just as well.

So there you have it, IN-WIN’s B2 Stealth Bomber Mid-Tower case took all of the gear we threw at it and wrapped it up in a nice neat package. All of the tool-less designs worked quite well, with only the removal of the VGA tunnel requiring us to pull out the screwdriver. Wire management possibilities abound, and IN-WIN has provided all of the elements for good airflow.

Chalk up another mark in the win column for the B2 Stealth Bomber Case.
 
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Powering on; Thermal and Acoustic Properties

Powering on; Thermal and Acoustic Properties



Now that everything is nestled snugly inside the case, let’s throw the side panels on and take it for a short test flight to get an idea of how the B2 performs under day to day operations. This isn’t intended as a full fledged battery of tests, simply a quick look.

Flashing up #1 engine (ok, that’s enough of the aircraft talk thank you very much) we’re pleased to report that while the ARX ceramic bearing fans may not be able to provide us with a true “stealth” acoustical footprint, the noise levels they put out don’t detract from day-to-day usage. These aren’t silent fans, but noise levels are more than acceptable considering the amount of airflow they are providing through the case.

With the power on, the first obvious question is how well the cockpit style front door works, and here IN-WIN’s presentation falls a bit flat. The “auto sensing switch” works flawlessly, and the mechanism opens and closes smoothly, but the sound of the motor as it raises the door is quite loud which somewhat spoils the effect. Strangely enough, the closing motion is almost whisper quiet which makes us wonder if the noise as it rises is engineered into the system. Either way, whether the noise is intentional or not, it is a blemish on what has up to now been an almost perfect score sheet for the B2.

With the slightly disappointing results from the door operation behind us, we’re anxious to see how well the B2’s other unique feature performs. The “Turbo Cooling System” looks great on paper, but it’s going to have to function in real life if it wants to get a thumbs up from us.

In order to quickly assess the cooling abilities of the VGA tunnel we checked out idle temperatures on the passively cooled HD 3450 both with the case side off, and then with the case side on and cooling system in place. We’re happy to report that idle temperatures on the card dropped from 65c with the case side off to 45c under the “Turbo Cooling System”. A 20c drop in temperatures is a clear indication that this cooling system is more than just case bling, but keep in mind that a passively cooled card is going to benefit much more from airflow than one with active cooling. At the very least, it’s safe to say that the system is able to provide fresh air which will allow active cooling to best do its job.

In order to test CPU temperatures, Orthos was allowed to run for 15 minutes providing a load on our overclocked E1200. Temperatures after 15 minutes were recorded with the case side both off and on. CPU temperatures rose from approximately 50c with the side off to 55c with the side on. By posting a rise of only 5c with the case side on, the B2 once again demonstrated that case airflow is more than adequate.

Setting aside the noisy door mechanism, we were quite impressed with the B2's thermal and acoustic properties. Airflow is obvously well designed, and sound levels put out by the ARX fans are well within what we are used to from quality stock fans.
 
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Conclusion

Conclusion



Prior to arriving on our doorstep, IN-WIN’s B2 Stealth Bomber Mid-Tower case was already facing the unenviable task of overcoming several pre-conceptions on what we could expect from this case. In the past, our experience with IN-WIN cases has been positive, but impressions of their product line had them pegged as relatively conservative when it came to both styling and price. Add to this a street price at around $50 more than we’d ever expected to see an IN-WIN case listed for and you can imagine the B2 had some heavy lifting to do in order to win us over.

Seeming to sense our hesitation on arrival, the B2 hit the ground running and never even bothered looking back over its shoulder to see how the race was going. Features such as tool-less installation, vibration dampening for both drives and fans, drive rails, and active VGA cooling (adjustable no less) may be relatively common in higher-end cases these days, but seldom do we see them all incorporated into one package. We certainly didn’t expect to see them engineered so well on a case at this price point.

Setting aside the feature set and placing just the chassis under a microscope, we’re presented with a case that not only looks great both inside and out, but also offers exceptional build quality. All seems to fit together so well; moving parts are smooth, clearances for most high end video cards are great and drive rails snap into place with a satisfying "click". On top of that build quality, discovering that IN-WIN put a lot of thought into cable management pushes our impression of this case right over the top.

The only valid complaints we can make with this case are the noisy door mechanism, the not-quite-right door latches and the sloppy power switch. All three items work as advertised but could use some refinements. We might also ask for an extra half inch of height to ensure an easy install of large after-market CPU coolers but can’t realistically fault a mid-tower case for being what it is.

From our first surprised glimpse of the audio component-grade feet to the results of our airflow/thermal tests, the B2 Stealth Bomber case has impressed us every step of the way in all aspects of design, engineering, aesthetics, and implementation. If it isn’t already clear from what you’ve read thus far, let us leave absolutely no doubt in your mind as to where we stand; This case rocks!


Pros

-Just about every feature we’ve ever wanted in a Mid-Tower Case
-Excellent build quality
-Great case airflow
-Clearance behind door for fan controllers
-Decent Price
-Wire Management possibilities abound
-Cool theme, tastefully applied


Cons

-Noisy door mechanism
-Door latches not quite right
-Sloppy Power Switch
-Could be ½ “ taller


240463923aca1f6b.jpg

Special thanks go out to IN-WIN for providing us with this product for review.
 
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