Soundblaster, a name that PC users and enthusiasts have grown up with for years. Creative, the creator of the Soundblaster series of sound cards have been with us since 1981 and a worldwide leader in audio technologies. In 1989, they bought us the now famous and recognized name of Soundblaster. Since this time Creative have released a swathe of different audio products for the PC market, most notably the dedicated sound card. It was an easy choice back in the day, if you wanted quality sound for both game play and music alike, you purchased a dedicated sound card as it was most of the time far better than your onboard sound hardware. However is this the case now all these years later now that onboard sound hardware has vastly improved ? Today we are looking at the Soundblaster X AE-5 Plus, a dedicated sound card for the PC. Read on to see what we find.
Hey guys, today I bring you a very special case. It’s very niche, it’s overkill in so many ways, but oh so beautiful! Here’s my review of the InWin X-Frame 2.0 (in green/black), a $1200 USD MSRP case, which by itself it more than your average mid-performance gaming tower, let’s see what makes it so expensive and how this case might just be the case for you!
Let’s start off by diving into the paper specs of this case.
Available in Black/Red, White/Blue or Black/green, this open air chassis is made entirely out of aluminium (except some screws, drive locking mechanisms and other miscellaneous hardware). This case can support up to 12″ x 13″ motherboards, so up to XL-ATX with it’s 8 expansion slots. With the universal mount bracket you can install up to 385mm long graphic cards and without, you don’t really have any limit, just like for a CPU cooler, since it’s open air, there’s no real limit except what the motherboard PCB strength can hold.
The case features four USB ports, three of which are USB 3.0 standard type-A, while a third is USB 3.1 in Type-C along with HD audio, power and reset button. The case can hold one 5.25″ device, 7 x 2.5″ drives and 3 x 3.5″ drives at the same time, perfect for various benching OSes per SSD. The fan bracket holds up to three 120mm fans, which should be fine for water cooling a CPU, GPU or both with limited overclocking.
The included power supply is quite the treat honestly, this home brewed PSU is of non-standard size and made to fit this case specifically, while other variations of this PSU exist for some other of their signature series cases like the H-Tower for example with difference aluminium panel configuration.
Now, with the case coming in at just a hair over 34 pounds and being approximately 25″ tall x 19″ wide x 13″ deep in it’s standing position, it will take up more room than your average case, even more if placed horizontally (because yes, you can put it in different configurations!)
Let’s start with the packaging!
As you can see the case is VERY well protected in it’s fully colored graphics box. Lots of closed cell foam designed specifically for this case is used to make sure the case is not damaged or even have the ability to move during it’s voyage from Taiwan up to your door. The PSU and cables both have their little InWin branded cloth bag, which is becoming a standard with high end power supplies so it fits right in with this case. The parts we see here are the documentation box, the “X” itself for the base, the case, PSU and it’s cables. Let’s get this sucker out!
Here you can see the whole case in just a few pictures due to it’s open case concept. From the back we see the case “X” base can be insert in the middle for a horizontal orientation and rotate due to it’s angled roller bearing or on the bottom to have it vertically standing. I’ve went ahead and highlighted the parts holding the drives mentioned earlier in the specifications. There’s a total of three 3.5″ caddies which can hold one 3.5″ HDD with the locking mechanism and one 2.5″ SDD/HDD bolted to the bracket itself. Two 2.5″ caddies which can hold up to two SSD/HDDs each along with the sole 5.25″ drive bay. The 8-slot long expansion area is removable also, just remove two screws and as everything else, all made of aluminium plate! The IO portion of the case it held on by two thumb screws which are spring loaded and fixed to the case.
Now, the bottom (if vertical) or side (if horizontal) has a bracket with three spots for 120mm fans, which is also made to accept radiators as discussed in the specs.
Now, this is all fun, but as an added feature, you can swap them around a bit, the 2.5″ caddies have their own spots, but the 3.5″ caddies, 5.25″ caddy and IO can be relocated elsewhere on the back of the case so you get a bit of flexibility depending on your build.
The fourth type of bracket is a universal mount, this can be used to mount pumps, reservoirs, more drives vertically, what ever your heart desires that can make use of the holes/slots on it.
This premium case also comes with premium features as one would expect from the signature range, for example, let’s take this handy screw plate that’s conveniently made with the same mounting at a 3.5″ drive to keep on your case!
Rotating the case around you can see this case is VERY open and made from a lot of aluminium, which fortunately keeps it lighter weight! You can also see all caddies, the I/O, universal mount and fan/radiator bracket mentioned earlier. Here you can also see the feet of the “X” base, which are spring loaded and stay flat on the surface.
Mounting the power supply is made easy, just like mounting anything else on this case for that matter. There’s a bigger stud that sticks out and aligns with a notch in the case, then two M4 screws are used to secure it to the case. This power supply is rated for up to 92% efficiency, which would place it in the 80+ Platinum rating range. Fully modular with extra features like side tempered glass, USB 3A charge port on the power-in side and two extra power modular connectors that can be used to keep pumps/fans running a bit after shut down to cool everything down before physically shutting down.
The cast aluminium on this case is THICC, like really, some places go up to half an inch! The plate is 5mm thick, which just shows no corners were cut on this case. A total part count of 4 make this case up, the two hardware side arches, the frame itself and the middle panel. I put a thumb screw for thickness comparison!
In Win always goes the extra mile on the signature series case for you to get that premium feeling and looking product, this one is no different. Aluminium badge with case name and branding, top and bottom aluminium InWin logo’s and InWin even in the big cast frame piece. We’re starting to see a pattern with this case, it’s all about the premium feel and look, what more could you ask?
Wait, the PSU tempered glass isn’t just for fun? Nope, there’s actually a case color matched LED strip in there to show off those custom PSU components too, which glows green on this model! Sexy isn’t it! The fan also has green LEDs and is of 165mm for great cooling.
Cable management in this case is different, but really easy since you don’t have to worry about putting a side panel. The modular nature of the PSU makes it so you only have to use the cables you need, while the cutouts of the case are located in adequate areas to pass cables through to hide in the rear. As you can see, there’s a lot of room for a radiator and fans on the bottom, along with tons of room for a reservoir/pump to be mounted for a water cooled build.
My only complaint about this case is that there isn’t any CPU cooler cut out if you’re swapping your CPU cooler.
Now, what I liked about this case is the storage capability and, included PSU, overall construction (caddies, case, PSU, all of it), orientation flexibility and packaging. Is there anything I didn’t like? Yes, of course, but nothing major. I wish there was the flexibility to use 140mm fans, but only a small niggle. I would have also put the fan bracket higher up under the hardware, flipped upside down to mount the fans/radiators starting from the bottom of the hardware instead of the bottom of the case, this would have enabled for up to 420mm radiators and have airflow much closer to the expansion cards if one were to use this case in an air cooled configuration.
Bottom line. If you’re in the market for an open case and like unique/expensive (but justified) products, this case is for you. If you come to me saying you want an open case that feels premium, that looks as good as it feels and stands out in a good way, get this case, you won’t regret it!
I want to thank InWin for their continued support by supplying us with this special case! This product will be featuring as the official ExtremeHW test bench for future product reviews and content as it makes the perfect companion for testing and reviews.
Stay tuned because soon you will be able to see my full build in this case along with rear cable management once I’m done!
Want to discuss this product or give your views and feedback from your own usage ? Discuss now on the ExtremeHW Forums