B2 Stealth Bomber
A pain to set up.
At PC World we’re used to review samples turning up later than expected. Sometimes a product misses its launch date due to manufacturing errors, while other times there’s been a mix-up at the post. Occasionally, the PR agency is just rubbish at its job and forgets to send it out altogether. Whatever the reason, you can pretty much guarantee that at least one product will be in ‘transit limbo’ on any given week. We were therefore unsurprised when the In-Win B2 Stealth Bomber — shipped all the way from Taiwan — failed to show up on the designated date. When it eventually did arrive, the accompanying letter blamed the delay on ‘furious typhoons’, which is quite possibly the best excuse for anything, ever. Unfortunately, after testing the device, we felt an overwhelming desire to throw it back into the eye of the storm. All in all, it’s a bit of a stinker.
- Sleek good looks, nifty 'motorised door' gimmick, plenty of inbuilt cooling
- A nightmare to build, too cramped for a gaming PC, auto-door too loud
The B2 Stealth Bomber is a flawed gaming chassis let down by poor cable management, a crammed interior and myriad design glitches. If you don’t intend to regularly upgrade your system, it might be worth considering for the cool aesthetics. But only just.
Price$ 349.00 (AUD)
The B2 Stealth Bomber is a military-themed ATX mid-tower aimed primarily at hardcore gamers (i.e., it’s a PC that resembles a warplane). Although it looks suitably LAN-tastic and will do a decent job of keeping your components cool, we feel unable to wholeheartedly recommend it. Simply put, it was an absolute nightmare to build. From screwing in the motherboard stand-offs to reinstalling the side panel, every step of the process was beset with problems. It was a horrendously gruelling experience that we are in no hurry to repeat in this lifetime. In other words, if you’re the type of user who frequently updates your system, the B2 Stealth Bomber is definitely not for you. Before we go into the grisly details though, let’s take a look at what the case actually offers to prospective gamers.
As its name clearly indicates, the B2 Stealth Bomber is modelled after the famous spy plane used by the US military. With its triangular, wing-shaped vent, military-esque logos, touch-sensitive auto bay-door and sleek black finish, it inspires immediate comparisons to its aerial namesake. As themed PC cases go, it’s definitely not a bad idea: in addition to the war overtones found in modern gaming, 'stealth' is becoming an increasingly popular element, too, which makes the B2’s design doubly appropriate.
Based on surface value alone, we were mightily impressed with the B2 Stealth Bomber. Without question, the highlight is the motorised front panel which lifts up like an aeroplane cockpit to reveal the system's optical drives (up to four can be installed at any one time). Unfortunately, the inbuilt motor is loud enough to wake an elephant, which kind of ruins the whole ‘stealth’ angle. If you tend to use your PC late at night, prepare for some very annoyed housemates!
The front I/O panel — which features two USB ports, an IEEE1394 Firewire port, speaker/mic jacks and a pair of e-SATA ports — is cunningly hidden beneath a miniature door flap. While this helps to maintain the B2’s sleek and stealthy appearance, we found the door quite difficult to open by hand, which requires a pretty long fingernail. This is an annoying and unnecessary design glitch which is bound to grate over time. Personally, we prefer easy access to good looks [in real life too — Ed.].
Inside the case, the B2 Stealth Bomber has room for four 3.5in internal hard drives, four optical drives and a pair of 5.25in HDDs. (Well, in theory at least — the B2 is far too small for its own good, but we'll get to this issue in a moment.) In terms of cooling, the B2 comes with a fully loaded cargo. In addition to its 120mm exhaust and front intake fans, a pair of 80mm fans has been installed over the expansion slots and suck in air through a side air duct. Curiously, all four fans are coloured in a garish fluoro yellow, though you won’t be seeing much of them so we suppose it doesn't matter.
Elsewhere, two rubber-lined holes have been drilled into the chassis for water-cooling setups (you’ll need to supply the parts and tubing yourself, however). A telescoping CPU air duct has also been built into the side panel, which has been designed to fit over most CPU coolers. Naturally, an assortment of vents and removable air filters are also included on the case. All up, the B2 provides plenty of protection from overheating, with a good amount of air flow. If it wasn’t for the hugely elaborate set up process, In Win would have been onto a winner.
Ironically enough, one of the main problems we had with this case was its ‘user-friendly’ tool-free design. The assortment of plastic strips, clamps and prongs proved overly fiddly, especially when we tried to reinstall the side panel, which required pinpoint precision. To make matter worse, the case is way too cramped for a gaming rig. We could barely fit in one Radeon HD 4870 graphics card, and the less said about the unwieldy spaghetti-hell of cables, the better. (Take a look at some of the photos above to get an indication of how overcrowded this system really is.) This made it virtually impossible to reconnect loose cables without dissembling half the components first. We learned this to our chagrin while attempting to insert the LED power cord — after a solid 30 minutes, we gave up trying.
We could cite a cavalcade of additional set up woes, but frankly, reliving the experience is too painful. Basically, if you can get someone else to build your system for you and don't plan on upgrading much, the B2 Stealth Bomber isn't a bad option. Otherwise, it is probably best avoided.
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