Originally Posted by scipio337
I think I grasp the differences, but my question would be: Are there any benefits/drawbacks to each, or is it all aesthetics?
One advantage to having it higher on the vehicle is that it clears obstacles in the path to the point of pull better. Last weekend we needed to winch another Jeep up a hill who had broken down and the first person who tried had synthetic rope (as I do) but a low mounted, recessed winch. We needed to pull a fellow that was nearly 100ft away from us up a field of rocks. When the guy with the low mounted winch started to winch his line was crossing rocks in multiple places. It turned out that he had a problem with his solenoid and couldn't do the pull so I moved to his same position for the pull and with my higher mounted winch it cleared all the rocks to the vehicle I was pulling and there was no worry about cutting that synthetic line.
Concerning placement between the frame rails I'm not sure if that has much bearing since the winch is always attached to the top of a plate rather than attached from the sides to the frame rails.
One of the reasons I went with a top mounted winch is so that I could easily see the line spooling to know if it was bunching up. The folks with the recessed winches can't easily seen how the rope winding without stopping and peeking in the bumper.
I'm sure there are some advantages to a recessed winch but I don't think they are related to winching.
I'm no expert. These are just my opinions.