Those of you who keep up with most of my chassis reviews weren't likely to miss the motorcycle inspired D-Frame. There the idea was to replicate what was possible of a Ducati frame and suspension components, and incorporate them into something that users would recognize as a case for PC components. It seems that there are some racing fans in the design team at InWin as we look at their new mid-tower chassis that is also race inspired, but this time they went with the automotive route. While the basis of this design is more usual as far as case design is concerned, there is also plenty inside and out to set this chassis apart from all of the others out there today.
I get the concept here, too. It may take some creative looking, but with the new mid-tower InWin is delivering, there are body lines and features that could be seen as being automotive inspired. Things like a pair of headlights near the top, on the front of the chassis, an open grill to allow plenty of air to be forced through the chassis once at speed, and even a hoods cowling, if you will, placed on the top of the chassis. It doesn't add room because the air cleaner or super charger is in the way, but it does allow for airflow much in the same way as the front of the chassis does, but here there is the front I/O panel that is tucked into the surface for aerodynamic reasons, and mixed into the front of the cowling is a HDD dock.
As I have said for many years now looking at InWin cases, they are definitely hit or miss. Styling is the main thing that keeps a lot of users as either fans or haters of their cases, and there is a definite trend to the more expensive cases having more refined looks, as the more affordable solutions try to break a lot of the rules associated with what makes for a good chassis. After seeing what I did with the D-Frame, I just hope that the GT1 from InWin that we are looking at today can end on the same high note I had with the other race inspired design.
Stick with me as I cover some of the technical aspects so we can get a good look at the GT1, what it offers, and if in fact it can be held in the same sort of reverence as other racing inspired designs have done for them.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
First let me state that you will be able to find the InWin GT1 chassis in both a white exterior with optional red trim, and a black version with the same optional trim parts. Both are otherwise exactly the same as far as body lines and trim pieces attached to the mostly steel chassis. As far as the ABS plastic parts of this design, the bezel on the front, what I am calling the cowling is on the top, and there is a very large tinted side window. In what looks like the grill on the front of the chassis, this open mesh area offers three 5.25" bay covers that remove from outside the chassis. The lower section looks more like some sort of stretched out ground effects, but is open to allow for more cooling into the chassis. As the from reaches the roof, there is the front I/O panel on both parts of the plastic, but the top offers a HDD dock along with a matching design to the lower half of the front. This section is raised well above the chassis like a cowl hood on a car, but here it is to give clearance for a pair of fans if you choose to buy some for it.
Inside the chassis things are now black, as it is painted with a matte finish of paint. In the front of the chassis you have a trio of 5.25" bays with neon green tool-free latches. Below those you have six 3.5" bays, two of which are somewhat removable, and this area also incorporates a mount for a single 2.5" drive, too. Behind them there is a partial motherboard tray that can house Micro-ATX or ATX motherboards and does offer minimal cable management. In the rear of the chassis you are given seven expansion slots to fill, but to add room to the interior, the mounting is moved to the outside of the chassis. There are two fans installed inside of the chassis, but a total of six locations for them in the windowed model, eight in the mesh panel version. You can put two 120mm fans in the front, and one is supplied there. You can also put a pair of 120mm fans into the top of the GT1. The rear has a single 120mm fan, as does the floor in front of the PSU. If you decided on a mesh panel, you will also have two 120mm fan options there.
Finding one of these chassis designs, either the white or the black version, there was only one place I could find a listing. Amazon struck out, and I wasn't able to even locate it via the InWin-style.com site. Where I did find it was over at Newegg with a price set at $74.99. There is another $9.95 being asked to ship the chassis so all told the price jumps up to $85 dollars. I have seen quite a few of the lower priced mid-towers; in fact the Enermax Ostrog we just saw is in this league.
At this point I have the task of showing the chassis off, doing the build, getting the testing done, and telling you if the near $85 price point is worth it for the new GT1 from InWin.
I'm going to go ahead and call this the front just because of the large rendering of a sports car on here that somewhat resembles a Mustang. On the fender you will also see the GT1 naming of this InWin chassis.
Spinning to the right one panel you now see that this plain brown box with two color printing incorporates the specifications chart on this side.
What is more likely intended as the front panel of this box is the side that gives you a look at the front I/O panel, has the large name at the top, and offers the eight features at the right to be found in the GT1.
The last panel holds some important information as well. Here you get check boxes for both the color of the chassis as well as the type of side panel. Here we have a white chassis with the side panel window. Taking the majority of this panel is the list of 11 features they covered this time.
If you open the box from the top, you will find the hardware and accessory bag that used to be taped into place here. It must have had a hard journey as not only the main bag was flopping lose in here, but the bags inside were also spilling their contents.
Protecting the GT1 on this same journey, InWin used Styrofoam for the top and bottom supports, wraps the chassis in a plastic liner, and protects the side window with a layer of plastic stuck to the outside of it. All of this worked very well and the chassis arrived in perfect condition.
InWin GT1 Mid-Tower Chassis
InWin GT1 Mid Tower Chassis
The front of the chassis does take some abstract thinking to find an automotive inspiration, but you can sort of see the open black grill at the top, and the lower section looks like some of the trendy ricer aftermarket body kits. Any way you do look at it, this is stylish and well ventilated.
Where the front of the chassis runs into the roof, you get the front I/O panel spread on both sections. At the top you get the backlit power button and the Silence/Turbo fan switch. On the front you are given a single USB 2.0 port on either side of the HD Audio jacks, with a USB 3.0 port all the way to the right. On both sides are blue "headlights" that will flicker with the HDD activity.
Spinning things around to get a better look at the top, you can see the ventilation mates the front almost exactly. In front of the honeycomb mesh there is also a HDD dock built into the panel between the I/O panel and the roof ventilation.
Looking at the GT1 from the profile explains why I call the top a cowling as it takes the same shape as a hood would. The left side of the chassis offers a flat white panel with a tinted window that is raised from the rest of the panel and held in with chrome Allen screws.
In the back, the top of the chassis offers a pair of water cooling holes with a wire pass-through between them. Then you see the rear I/O area and the 120mm exhaust fan. As you move down you see the seven expansion slots and the metal plate to secure the cards from easy tampering since the cards screws are external.
The right side of the chassis doesn't offer anything cool like the window on the opposite side, but they did bump out the panel to allow for more wiring to fit behind the motherboard tray.
Under the chassis there are solid rubber feet to support this chassis. At the left you can see the fan filter under where the PSU mounts as well as the section of dust filter under the optional fan mount in front of it.
Inside the GT1
Opening the GT1 things are sort of all over the place as far as the wiring is concerned. It is tied down somewhat to keep it from flopping around, and there is a matte finish to the paint in here.
The three 5.25" drives need screws on the opposing side, but here you can secure devices in these bays with these tool-free clips. I know the neon green is something they had in stock, but it just sticks out too much in this chassis.
The hard drive rack is broken into two sections. The top is partially removable, holds two 3.5" drive trays, and has room for a single 2.5" drive. The lower section offers trays for four 3.5" drives.
Pulling out the pair of trays, and with the removal of a single screw, the left side of the rack will come off to allow for longer cards or a pedestal for a water pump.
Under the cowling on the roof of the chassis there are clips built into the plastic frame to allow users to simply clip in a pair of fans. This way you don't have to deal with removing the top or messing around with screws.
The partial motherboard tray does have an access hole for coolers, three wire tie points, and offers raised steel bumps as standoff for ATX motherboards. On the right side you have three management holes, one at the bottom of Micro-ATX, and the lower section is completely open.
On the floor of the chassis there are steel rails to support the PSU so that fan grills don't rub on the floor. The fan mounting position is also moved pretty far forward so that PSU wiring won't block its usage.
Inside of the rear, you can see the clear 120 mm fan that also offers red LED lighting to shine on to your components. The top expansion slot is reusable, but the lower six are the pop-out style. Since you secure cards outside of the chassis, these are flush to the rear of the case to allow the most room inside.
Behind the motherboard tray there isn't much room to be found. There are spots with 15mm of clearance, but the rolled edges and structural bumps limit room to much less in some spots. With the depth of the door in the mix, you are offered up to 25mm of room in the deeper areas.
There is a lot of wiring too, and it is all over the place with colors. On the left are some of the Molex and 3-pin connectors to power and illuminated the fans and make the switch operational. Then you have the front panel control wires, the USB 2.0 lead, a SATA cable for the dock with a SATA power connection too short for the image, the native USB 3.0 cable and the HD Audio connector.
Accessories and Documentation
Since most of the hardware spilled into the large bag holding all of the hardware and accessories, I just left the screws standoffs and the socket for them out of the bag on the left. Those screws are for the motherboard, power supply as well as an expansion card. On the right side there are ten screws for optical drive or 2.5" drive installations. You also get a motherboard post speaker, which I don't see in some expensive cases.
You get a set of three wire managing straps along with a set of 20 octagonal red rings. Each ring has three clips on it, and they are to be installed into the holes in the front of the chassis. Don't worry if you don't get the concept yet, I will have then added in for the build images.
The GT1 user manual covers eight languages on one side of this fold out instruction guide, and dedicates almost one full side to English.
Once unfolded, the manual does offer a start with a quick part check, and then covers the chassis along with an exploded diagram of the GT1 to familiarize yourself with this chassis first.
This is the sort of instructions you will find in this manual. You are left to really study the drawings, as there isn't a whole lot of text provided to help guide you through the steps. The case is pretty intuitive in its construction, and if you have built at least one other system, you should be fine with this chassis too.
The Build and Finished Product
Since the front bezel is so open, it is nice to see a fan filter on the front 120mm fan, and is really the only reason you need to get in here. Keep in mind, that since the front I/O wiring is attached, it's going to be a real pain to get this panel off with then all maintained behind the motherboard.
With the colored accessories now applied and the DVD drive in place, I do really like the looks of the chassis much more. The drive does break up the lines at the top, but looking at it head on, it blends in well.
Inside I tested the limits as best as I could. With an ATX motherboard, one of the largest CPU coolers I have, and the longer HD 7950, this case takes it all in stride. Have I mentioned yet how off-putting these green clips are yet? It bugs me more once I added the splash of red to the inside and the outside.
The rear of the case was mostly a lot of the usual. The dust shield goes right in, the card lines up great, and the PSU gave me no issues. The only failure I see here is the lack of another four screws in case I want to mount more than one expansion card.
Behind the motherboard tray, the options given are really more of a joke than being really usable. There are two tie point over to the right, but without the room for the 8-pin to go through the hole provided, both the hole and these tie points are worthless. What you are left with since all of the wiring except for the SATA cable are short and doesn't leave much option to clean things up.
With the panels back on and the interior closed off, it is like I am seeing two cases at once. There is so much detail and sleek lines with a good layout externally, and the inside seems like an afterthought.
With power applied there is very minimal case lighting to deal with. The rear case fan does light up with red LEDs, but the tint of the side window negates anything being seen from it. On the top of the chassis the power button will illuminate with a blue LED denoting power, and the "headlights" are lit minimally with blue LEDs as well.
I'm not really that tough on a lot of cases. Basically all you have to do to keep me happy with a solid structure, a good layout both internally and externally, offer a good feature set, and maybe have some good aesthetic appeal, but even here different people like different things, so I keep looks in mind, but it isn't usually make or break for me. In this instance I sort of feel let down and let me try to explain why. Imagine going to a car dealership, seeing all the Mustang GT literature, eyeing the spit shined version on the showroom floor, and being lead on that you were going to own this model of vehicle. Then once the papers are signed, you go out and find the one you actually bought comes with a four cylinder engine and has crank up windows and push down locks.
This is how I feel about the GT1 as well. The outside had me with the unique styling, and the more I looked at it, the more I liked it. Once I saw that there were the little red inserts, I couldn't wait to set them in and see what it looked like then, and I wasn't disappointed. Then I made the fatal error of opening the chassis and finding out that this is the area in which InWin saved customers money.
Figuratively speaking, the chassis does have some nice features too, but once you get passed its cooling potential with all the optional holes filled, the HDD dock, and the aesthetics, there really isn't much left. Green interior components, half a motherboard tray, a complete lack of rational wire management, a rainbow assortment of wiring, and not enough screws to get past even the simplest of builds are all things that get a check in the con's column for me. I really wish that the inside would have been much better, because I was really starting to root for this case being a good mix of bold outside with the heart of a sports car, but once the doors were open and the hood was raised, I saw it was just a poser not worth of an approach to the line, it will just get left with a front bezel full of bits of rubber to clean off after it fails to win the race.
Sad thing is, with a $74.99 base price, it really isn't that hard to sell a case in that range. All you have to do is stay up with current trends, think like you are actually going to use this chassis and not just show it off empty, and maybe include everything a user will need to fill out the chassis to its full potential.
With the GT1 from InWin, it just missed the mark and even as cool as I think it looks, I have to say that for near $85 once shipping is involved, there are many better cases out there to attract your money than this mid-tower from InWin.
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