This is the InWin Z-Tower RTX 2080 SUPER build, a custom-cooled powerhouse featuring high-end gaming hardware from Intel and Nvidia, framed by the striking Z-Tower chassis from the PC case specialists at InWin.
We got a peek behind the scenes with PC builder Dwight Lackmann, to find out what it was like working with this unusual case.
As with any build, the first step is choosing the hardware.
The brain powering this build is the high-performance Intel® Core™ i9-9900K processor. This 8-core, 16-thread CPU was installed in a GIGABYTE Z390 AORUS Xtreme motherboard that features an integrated liquid cooling block for the CPU and motherboard PCH, providing easier integration into a custom cooling loop.
Here's the full spec list:
- CPU: Intel® Core™ i9-9900K processor
- GPU: GeForce RTX 2080 SUPER Founders Edition
- Chassis: InWin Z-Tower
- Motherboard: GIGABYTE Z390 AORUS XTREME
- Memory: G.SKILL Trident Z Royal Series 32GB DDR4 (4 x 8GB)
- Storage: Samsung 970 PRO NVMe* M.2 1TB
- PSU: CORSAIR HX850, with custom cables from MAINFrame
- Water Cooling: CORSAIR XD5 RGB + EKWB radiator, coolant, fittings, and tubing
The InWin Z-Tower case is certainly eye-catching and comes from a long line of experimental designs from InWin over the years. This open-air tower is fabricated using wood molds and aluminum, then polished with a CNC machine, resulting in a fascinating asymmetrical design. The designers at InWin say that they drew inspiration from the Taichi series sculptures at the Juming art museum in Taiwan.
The manufacturing process for the Z-Tower is as unique as the way it looks. According to designers at InWin, “The tooling process is challenging. For each panel, the molding only lasts for about 10 uses. Once it reaches its limitations, the molding is destroyed. This is one of the reasons the chassis is extremely limited.”
It might not be obvious at first glance, but this is a PC case first and foremost, and supports a wide variety of hardware. InWin said, “The Z-Tower can accommodate up to an E-ATX motherboard, and it will include a riser card. The maximum GPU length is 340mm with a 158mm width, and the case supports up to a 360mm radiator.”
The case in the video is #002, one of the first manufactured, and according to InWin, there are only a few remaining for sale.
So, what's it like working with the Z-Tower?
“The way InWin goes about making all these Signature cases is always interesting,” said Dwight Lackmann, who built the PC. “Especially with these open-air-style cases like the Z-Tower or the S-Frame. It forces you to think outside of the norm when it comes to placement of water-cooling parts.”
The best hardware configuration isn't always immediately obvious, especially when you're working with an unfamiliar case. Even the most thoughtful case manufacturers can't account for every configuration, which means the builder sometimes has to get creative with placement.
Lackmann encountered this issue and had to think on his feet during the build. “Inside the Z-Tower, I had a hard time finding a place for the pump/reservoir combo since the bolt patterns didn't match up with the hard drive cage, so I had to drill a new set of mounting holes in it to make it work.”
This is why planning ahead and having the right tools on hand is so important, especially when working with liquid cooling.
The aluminum frame of the InWin Z-Tower is a nice aesthetic match with the updated shroud of the Turing-powered Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 SUPER GPU*, a Founders Edition card with all the features that come with the new architecture, including ray tracing capabilities and DLSS. Lackmann also added some color with green UV coolant from EKWB, and the silver RAM from G.SKILL helps complete the metallic aesthetic.
When asked if there was anything he wished he could have done differently, Lackmann replied, “I would have spent more time getting the cable lengths more precise, finding a better position for the UV LED strip, and I definitely would have gone with hardline tubing.”
A recurring challenge with working in any open-air case is cable management, especially in a case as open as the Z-Tower. This required careful consideration when the build was coming together.
“Dealing with cables in an open-air/open-back chassis is always difficult because you need to spend more time making it look good, since you'll be able to see it,” said Lackmann. “Adding more cable combs helps keep things nice and tidy in the back, like on the 24-pin (motherboard cable). I was able to hide a lot of the cables that come with the case behind the 24-pin, and have it still look nice and neat.”
Working with a modular power supply (a power supply that allows the builder to select the cables that are used) and custom cables can certainly help when it comes to cable management. This is part of the reason builders so often use modular power supplies, as they allow for the flexibility of choosing cables that are the perfect length and look for your build. Here, Dwight used cable combs and a silver and black custom cabling kit to match the aesthetics of the other hardware and to help keep the wiring properly organized.
One of a Kind
This build is packing some powerful gaming hardware, but the real draw here is the case that brings it all together.
We asked Dwight if he had any thoughts for anyone lucky enough to work with the InWin Z-Tower. “This is a heavy case,” he said. “Taking off the panels is really key to making your life easier. Also, since it is all aluminum, don't use power tools to put the screws back in for those panels. It's very easy to strip out the holes.”
It turns out that even when you're working with a one-of-a-kind chassis, a PC builder's best friend is still a screwdriver. Get the rest of our tips on building your own gaming PC here.