The last chassis we looked at from InWin was the GT1, a racing inspired design that in the end failed to impress me at the current pricing. There was a lot going for the chassis in my opinion as it did deliver a full set of features, and in the end, I was able to at least get the system built and was able to show it off. At the same time there were quite a few shortcomings to the interior design, and in the end I felt that the interior of the chassis is where InWin cut corners.
My hopes aren't very high for this latest submission either now as a result of the GT1 findings. With the basic idea that they took the same interior design and layout, trimmed some of what they thought were unneeded options, the basic concept is to offer a sleek and simplistic version of the same case. InWin is not the only company to take this approach, just about every company on the market has done this at one point or another. The only issue I see with this latest submission is that it is based on a chassis that already said wasn't what I think my readers would want, and pretty much already failed the first entry InWin provided. I am trying to keep an open mind, and since I already did this once, maybe there are some things I just didn't see the first time around, and possibly salvage this design. Even with all of this at play I am trying to keep an open mind, but InWin has their work cut out for them after seeing the GT1.
Today we are taking a look at the G7, which as I addressed, is very similar to the GT1. The obvious differences are that this time the chassis is much squarer, this time I received a black version, and its outward appearance is sleeker and offers a brushed aluminum like front panel to attempt to class up this chassis.
If you could see yourself using the GT1, but weren't sold on the aesthetics, the G7 mid-tower chassis from InWin may be the answer for you, but as I said my hopes aren't very high.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
The G7 does come in two offerings. There is a black version and a gunmetal grey color, and we were sent the black version to show off today. In the G7 most of the construction is steel, 0.6mm thick and painted black inside and out. The front and top of the chassis is plastic, and while much more refined this time, there are still some body lines and styling to make it a little more than the basic black box. The left side of the chassis offers a mesh area for added ventilation and also has the InWin name embossed into the panel, but the odd thing is that this area is inset from the bulk of the panel, lowering room on the inside. The right side of the chassis is all steel, and offers only a 10mm bump over most of the panel to give more room behind the motherboard tray.
On the inside you will find that this chassis is shipped with two 120mm fans on the inside, but there are options for a pair in the left panel, another in the front, one in the floor, and one in the roof. Back to the steel and plastic bits, the front offers the same three 5.25" bays of the GT1, but below you are given only four 3.5" bays, but there is still the 2.5" drive bay on the top. The upper section found in the GT1, is half there, but the inner rail and the drive trays for the two bays there are now gone. On the motherboard tray, InWin offer some wire management, and some of it just doesn't make any sense, but you can run the wiring though it to attach to either an ATX or Micro-ATX motherboard. The last bit to cover is the seven expansion slots. They're pushed back and the mounting is done externally for the cards. You do get a plate that covers this area that keeps these screws from backing all the way out, but the cover is held in with the same Phillips screw that the cards are.
In a few emails with InWin, I was told that the MSRP was set to $74.99, the same as the GT1. What I am finding as I actually shop around for it is that the pricing can be found somewhat lower if you look around. With most cases you can always buy one direct from InWin if you choose to, but Newegg is also listing this chassis. There I am seeing a base price of $69.99, but once shipping is involved, the total goes to $79.59.
Of course you are going to have to incorporate shipping if you were to buy direct, so if you do end up liking what you see, may as well go with the lower starting price and go the route of looking to Newegg to grab one.
Starting the savings, InWin uses a paling cardboard box and chooses to go with two colors of printing on it. On this side of the box you see a large rendering of the chassis with the G7 at the lower left naming this chassis.
Continuing on, you now have this side panel with blue text. Here InWin covers ten features that you can find in or on the G7 chassis.
This side of the packaging offers a look at the G7 square in the face. Under the InWin name and logo, along with the large G7 name, you will find eight blue boxes that cover features found in the G7 design.
The other thin panel offers the specifications chart and is as inclusive as the one I showed you on the last page. This way, potential buyers get very well informed of what this design has to offer, but I'm sure customers would appreciate a look at the inside as well on this packaging.
Out of the box we see that the G7 uses all the typical packing materials. There is a large plastic liner wrapping the chassis and then there are Styrofoam end caps to keep the chassis from incurring damage in transit. It has worked well for the G7 as it arrived without any damage to it.
InWin G7 Mid-Tower Chassis
The front bezel is more classical looking with the G7 than compared to the GT1. The angled top, with the InWin name plate along with both sides, use a textured plastic for the outer frame. In the center, covering the bay covers and the solid lower panel, they are made to look like brushed aluminium.
At the top of the front bezel and where the chassis angle back to meet the top of the chassis is where you will locate the front I/O panels. The top section holds the power button and fan control switch under the shiny plate with the InWin name on it. The front of the chassis then houses the pair of USB 2.0 ports, the single USB 3.0 port and the HD Audio jacks.
The top of the chassis still offers the HDD dock right behind the I/O panel. As the top levels off again it keeps the solid construction until the grooved area at the back is reached. This area is where the optional 120mm fan will mount.
While I like the look of the left side panel with the large mesh area for a pair of optional fans, there is also the embossed InWin name and logo found here. What I really don't get is why the structural bends that make the panel more solid were pressed in closing off room for taller CPU coolers.
The rear of the chassis offers a way to get tubing and wires out of the chassis above the exhaust fan. To the left there is the room for the rear I/O dust shield, and at the bottom is the area for the PSU, with seven expansion slots with their mounting done here.
At least with the right side panel, even though it is really plain, the structural shape is dented out of the chassis this time. This will allow for thicker wires to be run behind it, and still be able to go back on the chassis.
To support the G7 there are large plastic feet used with no rubber pads on them. You can also tell that under the PSU and the optional fan position, both areas have removable dust filters to easily clean them.
Inside the G7
With an all-black design, at least the lime green tool-free clips on the optical bays don't look so bad this time, but I don't understand why the wiring gets tended to so nicely in the GT1, but with the G7, the wiring is left to just flop around with every shift of the box.
Getting up close, there are three 5.25" bays with those awesome clips. The nice thing is that all three are functional as the front I/O wiring is routed out fast enough not to get in the way.
For 3.5" and 2.5" drives, this is what you get. The top half has been removed reducing the total of four 3.5" drives this time. Something else I found with this chassis is that the 2.5" drive spot on the top doesn't really allow for wiring to connect correctly, rendering this pretty useless.
The roof of the chassis still offers handy clips to mount a 120mm fan, but you can see it has been reduced to only one fan this time.
InWin used the same partial motherboard tray found in the GT1 as well. It does offer an access hole, some management holes to the right, and allows ATX boards with the steel bump standoffs, but for Micro-ATX, you have to add some risers.
The floor of the chassis has a pair of rails to support the PSU and keep the fan grill off the floor. The area in front of it will take a 120mm or 80mm fan, and is pushed as close to the HDD rack as possible for clearance of the PSU wiring.
The fan in the rear of the chassis has changed this time. Instead of the clear fan with red LEDs, this time we get a plain black fan. I am sure the specifications of this fan are also different from the one in the GT1, but we will get them spinning soon enough to see for ourselves.
InWin at least bundled all the wiring near the top, but I tried to get them out of the way to show the rest of this area. You are still pretty limited to 25mm in total with the door panel on for wiring, and it does seem the majority of the wiring is longer in this chassis.
As I tried to include all of the wiring, you can see it is all spread out. There is the SATA power connector, 3-pin fan connector for the fan control, and the rear fan power leads as you look near the top. On the table you can see the front fan power lead, USB 2.0, front panel wiring, USB 3.0, a SATA cable for the dock and HD Audio connections.
Accessories and Documentation
I can tell from the green tape on the bag that this was supposed to be taped to the front of the chassis like it was found in the GT1. It had come lose though, and I found it in the bottom of the box after I removed the chassis.
Separated in two a pair of zip closed bag, you get the hardware. There is a bag with a socket, three risers and 15 hex head screws. The bag on the right contains ten screws for mounting optical devices and a 2.5" drive on top of the HDD rack.
You also get three bands to be used to tie up wiring, and with the ball and socket system that these use to lock, they are reusable if you need to move or change wiring. The last bit in this kit is the motherboard post speaker.
Inside of the user manual you start off with familiarizing yourself with the contents, the structure, its specifications and the terms of the warranty.
InWin do show how you need to wire all of those Molex clips and the 3-pin fan adapter to make the fan control switch work correctly. I know the images in step eight aren't very helpful for the build, but this is the kind of instructions you get where the images and arrows are more informative than any text that they do provide.
The Build and Finished Product
Removing the bezel to access the bay covers, you can see that this is how you clean the filter on the 120mm intake fan as well. With the wires attached to the bezel, make sure you remember this when maintaining those wires.
The DVD drive goes in flush with the brushed face of the chassis. While a stealth bay cover would be greatly appreciated here, it doesn't look all that bad with one now in the front of the chassis.
With only a partial HDD rack, you can fit really long cards in here, and it does make room for storing a pump or a bobble head doll, but when I tried to install the SSD here, I found the power cable wouldn't go onto the drive. As for the rest, aside from lacking screws for expansion cards, everything went as expected.
Around the back, the expansion slot cover is easy enough to work, but it is more to cover the hole than for security. As for the rest of it, the dust shield, card, and PSU all went right into place.
I was able to do a little better with the wires this time, but you can see it is all way to the left of any of the supplied tie points. There is also a notch in the CPU access hole to allow for an 8-pin, or maybe fan wiring, but the motherboard blocks access through here too.
Now with the door panels on the chassis, all that is left to do is to power this G7 chassis, test it, and tell you my final thoughts.
When the G7 powers up, there is a tiny blue LED denoting system power, the occasional flicker of an amber HDD activity light, and if you want Turbo mode, the fan switch will light up when that mode is active.
Even with the bar being set low with my take on what the GT1 offered, the G7 was not able to pull out of the mud. Aesthetically, on the outside, this chassis has the looks that most users would choose for an office or HTPC environment, but there are just some strange things going on that makes me wonder if anyone over at InWin really thought much in detail about these designs. Again I was at a loss for all the hardware I needed. If I had wanted to use a sound card, or have SLI or CrossFire, I have to run to a hardware store to get it mounted since they figure two screws are plenty for seven slots. On top of that, where the GT1 has a window that is molded outward to offer more interior space, with the G7, the bend is inward and will limit some tower coolers, and is why I had removed the Silver Arrow I had in the GT1 for this review.
There are some good things to this design, too. The HDD dock is conveniently placed right up front, and the appearance is something I know a lot more people would like to use over the more aggressive looking GT1. I was also happy to see that the wiring in my G7 was a little longer than in the GT1, and this time I had no issue getting them wired and still having some sort of order to my wire management. Really though, this is where the fun stops. With the front being closed off, it does keep the sound levels down in the 40 dB range in turbo mode, and 30 dB in silent mode, but the same panel that blocks the noise is also blocking the airflow and depends on just a little gap at the very bottom for the intake. With longer runs in this chassis, things do start to heat up and I strongly suggest filling the optional fan holes to get better flow into this chassis.
I wasn't so keen on the price point of the GT1, and while the G7 we just looked at is theoretically cheaper, you are still looking at very near $80 for this chassis. Since I thought the other submission would have been better served at something closer to $50, the fact that there are things removed like no LED lighting to speak of, removal of an optional fan in the roof, and eliminating a pair of hard drive bays the looks of the chassis aren't enough to save it in my opinion, and for $80, I just can't get behind these latest designs from InWin.