InWin 901: A Story of Tempered Glass
By Hank Tolman
The Taiwanese hardware manufacturer InWin hit CES 2014 with a slew of new items to announce, and the official availability of one announced a couple of months prior to the show. The story of InWin’s CES 2014 announcement really centered on a single theme: Tempered Glass. Benchmark Reviews stopped by InWin’s booth at CES 2014 to talk about their new cases and to take a look at some other products you might not normally expect from InWin.
InWin Tou Case
Back at Computex 2013, InWin presented an extremely interesting new case design in the form of their full tower Tou case. The Tou is built completely out of aluminum and tempered glass. InWin eschewed traditional plastics for their clear case design to stand out, as well as to provide a quieter, sturdier alternative to traditional cases. The InWin Tou’s case panels are 3mm thick and have a semi-transparent, mirrored finish. The case is LED lit from within and the lights are controlled by a touch panel on the front of the case. Turn the lights on and you can see through the semi-transparent case and take a look at the hardware nestled within. With the lights off, however, the Tou becomes more of a mirror, reflecting its surroundings and almost hiding in plain sight. The full-tower Tou comes at a premium, however, and InWin announced its availability for purchase for $799 during CES 2014. If you need a complement to your windowed corner office, the Tou might be just the thing. If the price tag is a little steep, however, InWin had a few other alternatives on display.
InWin 901 and 904
The mini-ITX InWin 901 and the mid-tower InWin 904 are two other tempered glass-based cases InWin was showing off at CES 2014. Both cases look really cool, in my opinion. The entire case is made out of a single piece of wrapping aluminum with the two pieces of smoked tempered glass attached to either side. The smoked glass of the 901 and the 904 isn’t as reflective as the Tou, so even with the interior lights turned off, they won’t look like mirrors.
The 901 and the 904 are just two different sizes of the same intriguing case design. The new cases use the sides, rather than the front, as the connecting points for the I/O panel and for seating an optical drive. The cases even come with specially designed PSUs that connect on their sides, rather than the back, in order to fit the case better. InWin told me that a normal PSU would work as well, but that the airflow would obviously suffer somewhat.
The InWin 901 and 904 cases should be available starting in February 2014 in some parts of the world, although they might not reach the US for a little while after that. The 901 should cost under $200 and the 904 under $300. These cases are clearly intended for customers that want to show off their case. I can see one in my office on top of the desk with the glass panel on display like a framed picture.
The InWin 707 on display at CES 2014 is more what you might consider a traditional case. The 707 has an aluminum front plate and the rest of the case is steel. Following the theme, the 707’s side panel is made out of tempered glass, rather than plastic.
The InWin 707 was shown in two varieties, a black case with red trim and a white case with black trim. The aluminum front plate swivels back on a hinge to allow access to the front panel, which houses 5.25” drive bays, the I/O panel, and a couple of big case fans. The front fans and the bottom of the case are covered with mesh that can be removed and cleaned. The InWin707 is a huge case capable of housing up to an EATX sized motherboard.
Don’t think that cases are the only thing InWin is making out of glass. It was explained to me that InWin has their own manufacturing plant in Taiwan and that the owner of the company has decided to explore new possibilities, rather than just sticking with cases. One of those new possibilities is a headphone holder named Mr. Bubble.
Mr. Bubble is an interesting concept. I, for one, like the idea of having a headphone holder handy. One of my favorite features of the Thermaltake Level 10 GT was the headphone holder that attached the side panel. Without a holder, I typically unplug my headphones and store them safely away until I need them. Otherwise my kids will definitely find a way to damage them. Mr. Bubble won’t complete solve that problem, as he would likely become the object of fascination, but he does serve a needed function. Mr. Bubble will be available in at least White, Blue, Grey, Purple, Brown, and Pink.