Wrap Up: A Unique Case for Loose Budgets
We excluded performance data because the In Win D-Frame Mini doesn't come with any fans. We primarily test a case's performance by using a passive CPU cooler and adding our own chassis fans which wouldn't necessarily reflect the performance you will see -- not to mention that we used the Corsair H100i rather than an air-cooler.
Cooling will depend on the hardware you install but the D-Frame Mini's open-air design is perfect for keeping components comfortable. Having lived with the original D-Frame for over a year now, I'm confident that the Mini-ITX version can handle most cooling needs while I wouldn't expect it to be quite the dust magnet that some folks say it is.
If you plan to have the D-Frame Mini on display, it shouldn't require much effort to maintain. The original takes me seconds to clean and I have only seen minor dust build up -- a light film if you will. Dust just isn't an issue for this design like it was for the Antec LanBoy Air's array of grills and crevices which encouraged grime to gather.
The original D-Frame had relatively few features and the Mini isn't much different. For $350, you won't get lighting, fans, fan controllers or external storage support, though the D-Frame Mini is outfitted for liquid cooling, it has a solid little carrying handle and unlike its forerunner, it even comes pre-built -- move over Ikea.
In Win's attention to detail is commendable, from the case's clean welds, tempered glass panels and durable paint job to its all-black sleeved cables and first-class wire management. Above all, we're impressed by how much clearance this compact, lightweight package can provide for a power supply, CPU cooler and GPUs.
There are plenty of ways to justify paying $350 for the D-Frame Mini, but there's no way around the fact that it carries a serious price premium over competitors. Previously, an 'expensive' Mini-ITX case was priced around $150 and the D-Frame Mini costs more than twice that, which will make it a tough sell for many.
The Lian-Li PC-Q35B is priced at $160, as are In Win's own 901 and H-Frame Mini cases. The revered Silverstone Sugo SG05 sells for $115, while the Xigmatek Nebula costs just $110. All of these cases could be seen as a better value but we don't think any of them come close to offering the wow factor of the D-Frame Mini.
Pros: Small yet spacious, unorthodox yet orderly, the D-Frame Mini exceeds our expectations in virtually every category, primarily excluding price.
Cons: At two or more times the cost with less features than many rivals, the D-Frame Mini isn't the best value going, though that ought to be a given.