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Maelstrom is not only latest product from In Win but also the highest end gaming case that In Win ever has. We were absolutely impressed by In Win Maelstrom at the first sight because this is a monster tower case which is equipped with plenty of advanced features such as high efficiency thermal solution, acoustic & vibration solution, luxurious painting, insane water cooling pre setup and so on.
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.
In Win was well trained to become a top-notch manufacturer of core technology to enhance internal core competence to meet what customer and market needs constantly. Top Management has been executed four major elements to reach our growing goal: Innovation, Service, Speed, Value, Safety, Warmth, Faithful, Diligence in order to remain our leading edge position and differentiate with other players.
Package & Contents
As usual In Win products are packed very well and this is same for Maelstrom which is packed safely with high quality packaging material; thick cardboard and non-breakable foams. Due to the giant size of In Win Maelstrom, the outer box is quite huge so please ensure you have proper handling method to transfer this case for long distance. Besides the outer cardboard, In Win Maelstrom is wrapped with another layer of plastic bag for waterproof protection and preventing scratches too.
User's manual and accessories of In Win Maelstrom are packed by two individual re-sealable bags. Accessories that are bundled for In Win Maelstrom are a pack of installation screws, buzzer, 2 x cable clips, 4 x PSU pads and 2 x 3-4-pins adapters. Some of the installation screws for motherboard, HDD and case fan are black coated screws which looks much matching since In Win Maelstrom is a fully black coated case.
Same with other In Win products, Maelstrom comes with a piece of big user's manual which looks pretty clean and simply but we still prefer a booklet type user's manual as it will be easier for user to refer it during installation. Before we proceed with the In Win Maelstrom, we found something interesting here is the 220mm fan where it can be replaced by six units of 120mm fan; pretty incredible and ideal for extreme hardcore users.
A Closer Look - In Win Maelstrom Exterior
In Win Maelstrom is a full tower case with monster size; 550 x 225 x 601mm (HxWxD) and the whole casing is coated with metallic black painting including the rear panel and interior construction. There are some advantages for In Win to use such black coating on Maelstrom as the common corrosion issue on standard steel casing will be eliminated and such coating will have lower product cost than a full aluminum case so this is a wise move for In Win.
In Win Maelstrom supports five exposed 5.25" drives and one of these 5.25" bay covers is a 3.5" converted cage for supporting 3.5" drive such as card reader, floppy drive and other similar peripheral such as fan speed controller. All these bay covers come with dust filters for enhancing and balancing the input/output airflow since this case is equipped with plenty of fans. The whole front panel needs to be removed out in order to install any of these exposed drive; let us continue this in later chapters.
Here are the bottom portions of In Win Maelstrom front panel. The two green handles are not really a handle which is highlighted with the warning note. We have no idea what is the real purpose for these handles but we have used it as a handle for light movement only since this handle is not made by steel so it is breakable. At the bottom of this front panel, there is a 120mm front intake fan which is also protected with air filter.
The top panel of In Win Maelstrom looks awesome as it can support dual 120mm cooling fans (perfect for exhausting fan). At default only a single 120mm fan is attached on this top panel which it is sufficient to cool down the system temperature significantly but users can always top up with another 120mm cooling fan to further enhance its cooling performance. Anyway we found that this top panel is ideal for mounting a single or dual 120mm radiator for water cooling setup.
The front I/O panel and power/reset buttons are located on this top panel which is perfect since most of the users will place this giant pc on the floor so top panel is the best location for locating these I/O ports. For the front I/O ports, In Win Maelstrom is equipped with four USB2.0, two eSATA, one firewire IEEE1394 and two audio/mic jacks. Four USB2.0 ports are definitely great to fulfill those USB port hungers and eSATA is another good option here especially for future devices. Anyway a cover/lid for these front I/O ports will be recommended for avoiding these ports from being dusty.
One of the major selling points of In Win Maelstrom is this side panel where it is powered by a 220mm blue LED cooling fan. Although this 220mm fan does not cover the whole side panel but the air vent mesh built up area is much bigger than this. The reason for In Win to do so is because this 220mm fan can be converted to six units of 120mm fan which is totally insane but we believe certain of people will like it. Beside this side panel air vent, there is a switch which is used to turn on/off the LED of this 220mm fan; another good option.
Here are the right and rear panels of In Win Maelstrom which are fully coated with metallic black painting. Don't get confuse with the PSU upside down position as this is quite common for most of the latest tower PC cases nowadays and some of them even can support dual PSUs. At the top portion of this rear panel, there is motherboard rear panel and an attractive green color 120mm fan.
Besides the casing of In Win Maelstrom is fully coated with metallic black painting, all the PCI fillers are also come with black filler with plenty of minor air vents. Right on top the PSU location, In Win has prepared four tubing holes with rubber cap for water cooling setup. Four tubing holes for external water cooling are more than enough as most of the high end water cooling only requires two holes.
A Closer Look - In Win Maelstrom Interior
Here is the interior construction of In Win Maelstrom and it is definitely spacious as In Win Maelstrom is not only able to support standard mATX and ATX but also extended ATX. The motherboard plate of In Win Maelstrom is not removable like other high end tower cases but one thing we like it very much for this case is the pre-cut mounting hole which is ideal for high end CPU cooler as most of such coolers will have their own back plate hence with such pre-cut mounting hole then user can install the cooler within the case without remove out the motherboard; credit to In Win.
Just right on top and rear of the motherboard CPU area, there are two 120mm attractive cooling fans which are the standard 120mm fan and same with other In Win cases; pretty good performance and stylish fan. Both of these fans are using 3-pin adapter but luckily two 3-to-4-pin adapters are provided as not many motherboards do provide so many 3-pin connectors.
Here is PSU placement of In Win Maelstrom which is located at the bottom of the case. There are some air vents at this location so that the PSU can have better ventilation which means better reliability. Besides that if you look closely, there are four PSU rubber pads which are used to support the PSU in better way and for those high end PSUs (>than 1KW) then additional bundled PSU rubber pads can be added on. Right bottom of the motherboard plate, there is a large piece of acoustic absorber which is used to reduce acoustic noise level; another highlights of In Win Maelstrom.
Here are the ODD and HDD cages of In Win Maelstrom where it can support up to five exposed 5.25" drives (including one converted 3.5" drive) and six internal 3.5" HDD drives. Same with other In Win Maelstrom high end cases, Maelstrom also comes with shock-free rails for minimizing vibration and shock impact especially for sensitive device such as HDD. The HDD cage of In Win Maelstrom is facing 90 degree proportional toward the side panel which allows easier HDD installation and able to avoid blocking with those giant graphic cards.
Here are the right and bottom panels of In Win Maelstrom. As you can see the bottom portion of the In Win Maelstrom is empty which allows better cable management. For the rubber feet, some high quality stands are used on In Win Maelstrom where all of these stands can be 90 degree turned out for better stability to support this giant casing. However we definitely suggest In Win to include four wheels on Maelstrom as it is not a light case at all so a proper handling is definitely required especially attending Lan Party or other big events.
The front panel of In Win Maelstrom can be removed out quite easily where user just needs to hold the bottom area of this front panel then pull it outwardly (but left side panel must be removed first). Basically the whole front panel of In Win Maelstrom is equipped with air filter which is definitely required for such insane case else it will be very dusty and hard to do the cleaning maintenance.
We have reviewed couple of In Win cases and most of the fan of these cases come with mounting bracket which allows easier installation and uninstallation but for In Win Maelstrom only the front fan is mounted on a fan cage while the rest of the fans are screwed on the case directly. Anyway all these three 120mm fans of In Win Maelstrom are a 12V DC fan with 0.32A; no idea about the exact airflow of this fan but it should be around 60 CFM.
Here are the 3.5" converted and the shock-free rail cages where both of them are installed on the 5.25" drive bay at default. Basically these two cages can be removed out from In Win Maelstrom if the drive bays are not enough but we do suggest to keep them inside the case to avoid spending time to search back these rails based on our experience; this is why In Win created such cage to store these rails.
We will not go through so detail about these shock-free rails of In Win Maelstrom since we have reviewed couple of In Win cases before with such features. Basically the shcok-free rails are kept inside this double-sided cage where there are total of six set of HDD rails and five set of ODD rails (including two sets for the 3.5 converted and rail cages). The 3.5" converted cage can be used for any 3.5" drive such as floppy drive, card reader as well as a HDD in case you need more than what In Win MaelStrom has provided.
Here are the left and right panels of In Win Maelstrom and both of these panels are affixed with plenty of acoustic absorbers for reducing the operating noise of the system; very basic fundamental but as far as we are concern only In Win is implementing such caring feature. Anyway both of these side panels are secured on In Win Maelstrom with four thumb screws but padlock is missing on In Win Maelstrom where it is advisable to have such security lock for protecting the valuable hardware inside since it's gonna be a monster rig.
As we mentioned before In Win Maelstrom is equipped with 220mm cooling fan and here is the exact physical layout of this fan. The fan is a 12V DC fan with 0.23A. We have no idea about its airflow but based on our experience this giant 220mm cooling fan should have around 95-100 CFM airflow and if you still think that the airflow is still not good enough then you can replace it with six 120mm fans which will probably give you; 60CFM*6 = 240CFM airflow.
Installation, Testing & Performance
After all the long discussion on the interior and exterior designs of In Win Maelstrom, let us proceed with its installation and performance. We have chosen to install the PSU as the first commodity since it is located at bottom area of In Win Maelstrom and doesn't conflit with the rest of the hardware installation. The PSU can be installed in both ways (standard orientation or upside down) but we have chosen the standard way where the PSU ventilation is facing downward. For those high power PSU with longer casing enclosure then please ensure additional rubber pads are added.
After the PSU installation we have proceeded to install the motherboard on In Win Maelstrom. Motherboard installation is pretty standard and simple for In Win Maelstrom since its interior working space is super spacious. However please remember to use the enclosed black screw when fixing the motherboard on the casing. Anyway we found a problem at this stage where our 8-pin ATX PSU cable (yellow) is a bit short where we have to routed the cable underneath the graphic card which is a bit inappropriate so it is good for In Win to include an extension cable.
Next will be processor, CPU cooler, graphic card, memory installation on In Win Maelstrom and we didn't encounter any major issue here. Refer to the second picture above, the pre-cut mounting hole is not really aligned with our test bed motherboard but it is understandable since it is hard for In Win to make a pre-cut hole to fulfill all kind of motherboards; different board will have different layout design.
Next step will be drive installation and here are the snapshots of HDD installation on In Win Maelstrom. The shock-free rails are universal rails so it can be installed on either side (left or right) but the rails aren't able lock firmly on the drive so it is required user to hold the drive with these rails before it is successfully installed on the HDD cage. Total six HDDs can be installed on In Win Maelstrom which are more than enough even for a super rig else user can extend the 7th and 8th HDD on the internal 3.5" and converted 3.5" cages.
For the ODD installation, it is exactly similar with the HDD installation where each of these drives require two piece of these universal shock-free rails; secure them on the drive cage until hear a lock sound. For those short 5.25" peripheral drives like fan speed controller, temperature monitoring drive still can be installed on In Win Maelstrom with these shock-free rails but additional screw is required to secure them on the ODD cage.
Here is the completion hardware installation on In Win Maelstrom and the whole installation process should takes around 30 minutes to an hour. Due to spacious construction of In Win Maelstrom, we didn't really encounter any major issue except the 4/8-pin ATX cable length issue. Basically the spacious interior really does help to shorten and simplify the installation process as well as better cable management.
Here are the couple more of photos of In Win Maelstrom and the side panel 220mm fan comes with four blue LED which looks pretty nice during dim environment and if you don't like it then it can be totally switched off manually. For making this In Win Maelstrom to be more attractive, user can add some CCFL or UV reactive components inside then it will be an extreme eye-catching rig.
Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E8300 @ 2.83GHz
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-EP45-DS3 (Gigabyte G31M-ES2L)
Heatsink: Noctua NH-C12P
Memory: Kingston HyperX DDR2 8500
Hard Drive: 250GB 7200RPM 8MB Seagate
Graphic Card: Galaxy GeForce GTX260+
Casing: In Win Maelstrom
PSU: In Win Commander 750W
Router: TRENDnet TEW-639GR
Optical Drive: DVD RW
Monitor: Dell 22" Wide Screen LCD
Speaker: Edifier R501
Mouse: SteelSeries Ikari Laser
Mouse Pad: SteelSeries QcK+
HeadSet: SteelSeries 3H
Operating System: Microsoft XP Pro SP2/Vista Home Premium
Ambient Temperature: 27 Degree Celsius
Here are the performance results of In Win Maelstrom for CPU, HDD, VGA as well as system temperature. As you can see the CPU performance has great improvement on In Win Maelstrom compares with our previous casing; at least 3-4°C improvement during full load and the CPU temperature is close to ambient temperature during idle load which is pretty impressive. Besides that we see some improvement on system temperature but for VGA and HDD, it is roughly the same; maybe just 1°C improvement.
There is no doubt, once again In Win has gained our attention on their latest and highest end casing; Maelstrom with its great design and plenty of outstanding features. Some common but good features of In Win Maelstrom are spacious interior design, shock-free rails and etc while its unique features are fully painted in black, massive airflow, acoustic absorber and etc. After we have gone through the review of this In Win Maelstrom, we are still like it as much as our first sight on it; it is just perfect. Besides that the MSRP of In Win Maelstrom is just 109USD which is pretty cheap for such advanced tower gaming case; we are glad that we have such chance to review it and since there isn't a single case which able to suit for everyone but In Win Maelstrom is one of the beautiful case that you should really consider it.
+ Comes with cheap price
+ Tower case with spacious interior design
+ Fully painted in black; avoid corrosion
+ Massive airflow case; 1*220mm, 3/4*120mm fans
+ Acoustic absorber; noise reduction
+ Shock-free rails; tool-less installation
+ External water-cooling setup
+ Pre-cut motherboard mounting back plate hole
+ Switchable blue LED 220mm fan
+ Plenty of front I/O ports
+ Support 5*5.25" & 6*3.5" drives
- Heavy & bulky
- Could be dusty easily
- Requires wheels or proper handles
- Requires a 4/8-pin ATX PSU extension cable
Thanks to In Win for providing this sample for us to review.
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