We have another funky little chassis in the eTeknix office today, and while it was only a couple of weeks ago that we took a look at the truly epic H-Frame from InWin, we now have something a little smaller, lighter and less expensive, the H-Frame Mini. The mITX sibling of the Aluminium monster that is the H-Frame looks set to offer a similar design ethic, but with a much reduced footprint, making it ideal for those short of space or in need of something more portable.
mITX has undergone a rebirth this last year, with mITX chassis proving more and more popular we have seen hardware manufacturers put out some of the greatest small components, especially when it comes to motherboards and APUs that are capable of giving smaller form factors some impressive graphics performance. Yet much of the attention goes towards the larger mITX chassis such as the BitFenix prodigy, but there is a market out there that wants all the premium build quality and design they can get in a much smaller form factor.
InWin look set to deliver to those who want such a design, giving the H-Frame Mini an aluminium and tempered glass finish, something that goes a long way to explaining the price tag of £161.99. That is expensive for something this small but it does features an integrated 180w PSU, and if the build quality is anything like that of the £260 H-Frame (full size) then it may not be such a bad deal after all. So lets get right to it and see just what this chassis has to offer.
In the box we found a simple user guide, a bundle of extra cables for the PSU and all the usual nuts and bolts required to install our components.
The left side of the chassis features a gorgeous tempered glass panel that is held in place with four thumb screws on four stand-offs. It gives an uncompromising view of the chassis interior, but if you want something a little more discreet then InWin also provide you with a solid blue panel which we will take a look at in a moment.
The right side panel is mounted in the same way as the left, finished in a lovely metallic blue that adds a nice touch of colour to the chassis design.
Front the front we can see that the chassis features an open-air design, There are gaps between the panels that allow for plenty of airflow as well as adding a unique design to the chassis. The front panel is well enough equipped and features a pair of USB 3.0 ports, HD audio and the usual power/reset buttons.
Around the back we have a power cable hook up for the PSU, as well as a cut-away for the motherboard I/O panel. There is also a small expansion card slot at the bottom.
The top panel features a lot of airflow and InWin have added a mesh layer on the interior which is most likely to prevent large items from falling into the case, you wouldn’t want a biro falling inside and getting caught in the CPU cooler would you?
More ventilation on the base of the chassis, as well as a pair of rubber strips that will help keep it nice and steady on your desktop.
Here we see the alternative left side panel, it features the same blue finish as the right side panel, but with the addition of an embossed InWin logo in the centre.
With the side panel removed we can see that there is just enough room for an mITX motherboard, it is a little tight there are a bunch of cable routing spaces that should help save space when we come to our build section.
The top of the chassis features a little metal strip that protects the power cable, as well as keeping it out of sight from the side view.
The PSU is nicely tucked away on the right side of the motherboard, InWin have done a great job with its placement and you can’t really see if from most angles.
Around the back we see that there are two 2.5″ hard drive mounts, as well as space for a slim optical drive, pretty impressive given the overall size of the chassis.
The mounts are pre-wired with the required cables, but they can easily be removed should you not need them thanks to simple screw mounts. This area also gives us a little extra room for cable routing.
Total build time on the H-Frame Mini was around 30 minutes, a little longer than I expect given the size of the chassis. It was a little fiddly to work with and that is understandable given the small workspace, but I also took extra time and care to route the cables around the chassis as neat as I could, given the small amount of space available I think the end result was certainly worth it.
The Akasa fan we have installed has a nice and low profile, but there is a little room for something bigger dependant on your motherboards configuration. We have used our low profile ram here, but there is easily room for a taller heat spreader.
Airflow is clearly unobstructed thanks to the neat cable routing and since the CPU cooler is the only moving part in our system, and that airflow is coming from almost every angle within the chassis, heat should not be a problem.
With the side panel back in place we can see why cable routing is so important, you get a super clear view of the components and the overall build looks stunning. You could of course use the solid side panel, but where is the fun in that!
Finally from the front you can just see our SSD tucked in at the top right and a few of the extra cables behind the motherboard.
No matter what way you look at it, this is an expensive chassis. £161.99 is a lot of money for a small case, but once you factor in the building materials, and the PSU, it does fall more in like with the competition and while it is not the best value for money, it is pretty unique.
The price isn’t really the main focus here, nor should it be. This was never designed for mass market appeal and it is clear that InWin have put a lot of effort into making something that really stands out from the crowd. Build quality is simply amazing and the finish on the aluminium is flawless, especially on the edges and corners of each panel.
A 180w PSU might not sound like a lot, but when you factor in the it only has to power a motherboard, CPU, RAM and a pair of 2.5″ hard drives, it is more than enough power for most any system. You’ll be hard pushed to build a system in this chassis that exceeds that level of power and when you look at the price of similar PSU’s in this form factor you’re easily looking at around £60, which explains a chunk of the price tag for the chassis.
It may not be a grand as the H-Frame, but the H-Frame Mini still packs a mighty punch in terms of design, build quality and overall coolness that makes it feel like something special. Sure it is not going to be to everyone’s taste, but I personally think it looks great and I can’t think of a better chassis to show of a new mITX motherboard as it almost feels like a premium display case at times.
It just misses out on an eTeknix award this time, but that is no bad thing! It’s a little expensive for our bang for buck award, I’d want room for a GPU for the editors choice award, and our innovation award doesn’t seem like a good fit either. If we had an award for something being cool, then that is what I would go with. You’re going to either love or hate this chassis and if you really want it, there is nothing else on the market like it that can really compare in terms of style.
- Flawless build quality
- Aluminium and glass construction
- PSU included
- Choice of colours available (blue, red & green)
- Excellent airflow
- High price tag may put people off
- Only has space for a small expansion card
“Unique style and flawless build quality go a long way to making this one of the coolest chassis on the market, but its specialist nature may make it impractical for many system builds.”
Thank you InWin for providing us with this information.