InWin GT1 Review

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Brand: InWin
Model: GT1 Mid Tower
RRP: ~£55 (At time of review)

Founded in 1985, InWin was founded to provide PC builders with high quality chassis, power supplies, and digital storage solutions along with the goal of providing unsurpassed customer service. InWin have designed a multitude of case solutions since their inception. From their smaller cases that come in at attractive price ranges right up to their ultra high end cases such as the H Frame and Tou chassis which combine build quality and finish to make a premium enclosure, InWin have catered to a large and diverse group of PC enthusiasts. With all that being said, we have one of InWin’s more affordable cases today. Aimed towards gamers the GT1 mid tower we are testing today is an enclosure seemingly inspired from automotive design. Catering for already overcrowded ATX mid tower market, will this race ahead of the pack or crash out on the first corner?  Well lets get testing and find out. But before all that, a little bit about InWin.

What InWin have to say about themselves:

IN WIN Development Inc, manufacturer of professional computer chassis, power supplies and digital storage devices, is the leading provider of enclosure solutions to system integrators worldwide. Founded in 1985, IN WIN provides high quality chassis that conform to all safety regulations, as well as unsurpassed customer service. In Win has become a leading, top-notch manufacturer of core technology in order to meet market and consumer needs and demands. Our company’s management team has laid a strong foundation in terms of eight major elements: Innovation, Service, Speed, Value, Safety, Warmth, Faithfulness, and Diligence. These elements help In Win to remain a leader in the business realm and also help differentiate us from our competition.

Specifications

Name GT1
Case Size Mid Tower
Material SECC Steel
Drive Bays External 5.25” x 3
Internal 3.5” / 2.5” x 6 (Supports up to SATA HDD EZ-Swap Module x 4), 2.5” x 2
M/B Form Factor ATX / Micro-ATX
Power Supply ATX 12V, PSII Size
I/O Expansion Slots PCI-E Slot x 7 (Supports up to 408mm)
Top Port Fan Speed Controller
3.5”/2.5” SATA HDD EZ-Swap x 1
Front Ports USB 3.0 x 1 (Internal Connector)
USB 2.0 x 2
HD Audio
Thermal Solution Supports up to Total 120mm Fan x 8 (Different Regions May Carry Different Specification)
Front – Supports 120mm Fan x 1 (Maximum Supports 120mm Fan x 2)
Rear – Supports 120mm Red LED Fan x 1
Side – Supports up to 120mm Fan x 2 (Mesh Side Panel Only)
Top – Supports up to 120mm Fan x 2
Bottom – Supports up to 120mm Fan x 1
Water-Cooling Hole Ready
Dimensions (H x W x D) 475 x 210 x 491mm (18.7” x 8.3” x 19.3”)

 

Features

Blazing Gaming Chassis

  • Customized your own front panel
  • Red LED fan providing dynamic visual effect

Highly Expandable

  • Seven PCI-E slots to support high-end full size graphic cards (up to 408mm / 16.1″)
  • Supports CPU tower heatsink up to 187mm w/clear side panel (or 178mm w/mesh side panel)

Flexible Drive Bays

  • Supports 5.25″, 3.5″ and 2.5″ devices up to 11
  • Flexible 3.5″/2.5″ HDD tray with rubber pad to absorb vibration and reduce noise
  • Supports up to 4 SATA HDD EZ-Swap modules for ease of installation

Excellent Thermal Solution

  • New internal structure design for better thermal solution
  • Supports up to 8 x 120mm fans to provide excellent airflow for your system
  • Fan with dual mode control (Silence/Turbo)

User Friendly

  • Enlarged cable routing space
  • Removable HDD bracket to support high-end components
  • The Top 3.5″/2.5″ SATA HDD/SSD EZ-Swap dock can be used conveniently to place the mobile phone while charging
  • Easy Installation of CPU cooler via a retaining hole without removing motherboard
  • Easy Removable air filter for the fan and power supply
  • Super speed USB 3.0

Closer Look – Exterior

The box that the InWin GT1 comes in is not overly large, as seen from the picture below it should be adequate in protecting the case. Like many cases on the market which come with a photo or an illustration of the front of the case, the InWin GT1 is no exception and we can see that  the box also comes with an illustration of a sports car, which in my eyes resembles a Ford Mustang. Again, showing that InWin are going with the aggressive, racing aesthetic with this chassis. We can see that there is a black stripe across the bottom of the case, this contains the InWin logo and website address as well as their corporate slogan. Not a bad box design as far as aesthetics go but let’s scope out the rest of the box.

On this side of the box we can see the GT1 branding across the top of the box, complete with racing stripe and the InWin website address. InWin have also decided to include some information of the sizes and things the GT1 supports, this includes, support for full size graphics cards up to 408mm, SATA HDD Ez-Swap dock, USB 3.0 compatibility and tool free drive bays and expansion slots, all of which we’ll go further into detail later. The box mentions that InWin have also included 120mm LED fans, made the HDD bays capable of holding SSDs and claim that the case is watercooling ready, which again we’ll see if InWin’s claims match reality later on.

Taking a look at features side of the InWin GT1, it shows that the contents of the box are a white case with a clear window panel, as well as reiterating some of the points that we saw on the front of the box, just this time with more details.

On the side of the box we see the same list of specifications like what I have put on the specification part of this review. Personally I like this as it is a helpful tool because if you were to walk into you PC shop, it would help you to decide whether your PC configuration would fit inside the case.

The front panel is pretty standard, it’s mounted forward facing, which is standard for most cases that have front panel I/O. The panel consists of two USB 2.0 ports as well as 3.5mm input jacks for headphones and a microphone. InWin have also managed to include a single super speed USB 3.0 port, whilst I would personally prefer to have more than one USB on the front panel, this is a budget case so the inclusion of one USB 3.0 port is perfectly acceptable given the price bracket of this enclosure. Also in this picture we get a view of the two blue lights either side of the front panel IO which are the HDD activity lights. We can also see part of the cover for the top most 5.25″ optical bay, as you can see below it is made from honeycomb mesh which helps with the airflow in the case, however, it does not have any dust filtering on it, which would have been a nice feature to see as the case is mainly geared towards air cooling and air flow. Overall, the front fascia of the case isn’t incredibly remarkable, but given the budget category, what’s included is definitely adequate.

On the rear, we see that the white color scheme from the rest of the case is removed, and instead InWin utilizes a plain black back panel, differing from the white coloring of the side and top panels. This actually gives the case a nice little contrast to it, as an all white construction could have been a little too uniform for some peoples tastes. We can see that InWin have decided to include a 120mm exhaust fan as standard, which comes with red LED’s. This will add a nice amount of extra illumination when the case is powered on creating some ambient light. We can also see that InWin has decided to install two rubber grommets for external watercooling solutions as well as the cut out for the motherboards rear IO panel. The rear panel though seems to be a bit of a tight fit and it seems InWin have tried to add as much as possible to the back.

Further down the back panel we have the PCI expansion slots. InWin have decided to give us 7, which is enough to cover all but the most extreme PCI slot setups in regards to GPU’s, soundcards and so on. It seems InWin have decided to move away from the usage of conventional thumbscrews for holding in anything populating the PCI slots but using a bracket which fits on 3 clips to form a sort of hinge which then holds down the brackets firmly in place by a single screw. I personally do not like this system although we are starting to see some manufacturers using this system more and more in order to cut costs. When I was using my Asus 7970 TOP card a rather heavy graphics card, it felt like the support from the PCI bracket was minimal and inadequate when compared to using individual thumbscrews. At the bottom of the case we can partially see the cut out for the PSU which is in the ideal location at the bottom of the case.

Closer Look – Exterior Cont.

Moving onto the top of the case, we can see that InWin have given us the power button on the left, reset in the middle and the fan controller in the middle. The fan controller has two speeds, ‘Silence’ which run the fans at 5v and ‘Turbo’ which will allow the fans to run at the maximum 12v. Also in view is what InWin like to call their Ez-Swap dock, which is essentially a hot swap dock which will accommodate any HDD or SSD from 3.5″ to 2.5″ and allow you to swap them by simply removing them from the system. This is housed in a recessed area in the roof which allows the HDD or SSD to sit there without the risk of falling from the roof of the case. The inclusion of a fan controller and the Ez-Swap aren’t bad to be honest and definitely an inclusion that makes this case a bit more compelling.

Moving onto the top and the back of the case, we can see that the same hexagonal shaped grill from the front of the case has been used on the roof. However the little red hexagonal inserts that can be used in the front of the case are not available to use in the roof. Which is a shame as it would have broken up the uniformity of the roof and mirrored the front of the case quite nicely. We can also see that this roof panel is not attached to the chassis by thumbscrews at the rear and is in fact one separate part of plastic which is held onto the chassis by plastic clips which you undo from the roof inside the chassis. The back panel is all black and nicely breaks up the white and combined with that red LED fan, adds a splash of color.

Here we can see the bottom of the case, again it is black, but that doesn’t matter since most of its working life involves the bottom not being seen. We can see that InWin have decided to implement dust filters in the crudest sense for the PSU and an optional 120mm fan. The filters are weirdly affixed to the case and actually would require quite a bit of effort to remove and clean. Whilst the implementation is crude at least it is there and should help to reduce the amount of dust coming into your system. The implementation however means that the end user is going to need to put more effort in when cleaning the filters.

Moving full back to the front fascia of the case, we can see the lower grille with the optional red hexagons installed which adds a nice little bit of color to the case without being too vibrant and overpowering. We can also see that there are plenty of meshed ventilation holes for the front fan, or fans if you decide to install an additional fan for the front intake. Weirdly, InWin only provides one dust filter for the included stock fan and again it has been implemented in the crudest form. And because of the rather weird inclusion of only one dust filter as opposed to two, the dust filtering for the front is basically pointless, meaning that you’ll end up watching dust build up in the front anyhow.

Here we can see the chassis behind the front panel. The front panel itself is held in place by three little plastic clips which snap on to the cutouts that can be seen on the edge of the case. Visible are the two 120mm fan brackets, which are tool-less and the dust filtering for the stock fan. Finally, there are the three 5.25″ drive bays, two of which are covered by removable metal covers.

Lastly on the front of the case are the three removable drive bay covers for the 5.25″ optical drives. They are covered in a circular mesh which will allow the air to pass through it with ease. This is not dust filtered at all so will allow some dust to pass through, however, if you set your fans up properly in the system, the pressure should stop most of the dust from getting in.

Here we have the ‘rear’ side panel, as we can see it is a plain white, but it is raised, primarily to support more cable management, and I suspect to stop the panel from bulging due to the cable management.

Here we get a better look at the ventilation on the plastic roof panel, as well as the big clear window that InWin have gone with for the GT1. While it would have been nice to have a plain window, I do feel that the InWin branding across the window is not overwhelming and does tie in with the overall aesthetic of the case. The window itself is constructed from smoked acrylic and secured in place by some stainless steel bolts.

Closer Look – Interior

On first appearances, the InWin GT1 appears to be spacious with the ability to house ATX motherboards.  The case is all black and features spaces for cable management slots for the motherboard. However, there are still problems with the cable management. For one there is the glaring omission of a cut out for the 8pin CPU power, on this occasion I had to run the CPU power up the back of the motherboard tray and through the CPU cutout to stop it trailing across the motherboard and ruining the what might otherwise be a clean aesthetic. This is a bad move on InWin’s part, as I feel that most cases around this £50-£60 price bracket should be coming with an 8-pin CPU power cutout as it not only helps to keep the PSU cable management tidy but also helps to hide away any fan cables that are in that part of the case. The lack of an inclusion of a cut out for the 8-pin is a rather large negative given that the case has cable management already.  There is also a  6 x 3.5” HDD bays with the ability to mount SSDs instead.  The upper most HDD cage which holds two drives can be removed to allow room for long GPU’s if necessary so that is definitely a nice inclusion. There are also the tool-less 5.25″ bays which feature a twist to lock system, I can’t really comment negatively or positively since they work and aren’t too obtrusive in building. Last but not least there is a rather large cut-out in the motherboard tray which allows you to not only hide cables behind the back, but also allows you to install CPU coolers or change them around with the motherboard still inside the case.

Taking a closer look at the rear 120mm exhaust fan which is an inclusion in the stock system, the provides the case with an option to expel hot air from within the case to the outside.  It is clear and features red LED’s which should give the case a nice red ambient glow when powered on. As far as I know it’s a sleeve bearing fan but the gesture of including a fan is definitely welcome.

In the roof we have the 2 x 120mm top exhaust fan bays, which at stock are not populated with any fans at all. As you can see I put some 120mm fans in them for the purpose of showing you the mounting system and to give an idea how much space is inside. There are two large white plastic clips which hold the fans securely in place during operation which to be honest I was a little dubious as to how well the clips were in terms of vibration negation. After all we wouldn’t want the installed fans to rattle. However, InWin put a little plastic pin in each corner of the fan, where the screw holes are, so that some pressure is exerted in each corner of the fan, then gets pushed into the clip, holding the fan securely and thus eliminating any rattle. The clips are rather welcome actually and I’ll have to commend InWin in including those rather nice clips. You will also notice in the picture that one of the 120mm fans is partially obstructed, and that is because there are also no screw points and minimal space between the roof and the top of the motherboard tray. Thus Internally mounting any sort of radiator in the roof will not be possible with this case.

Here we can see the floor of the case. There is the large white area, which is a cut out that allows the cables from the PSU to be routed up behind the motherboard tray and out of view. We can also see the mount in the floor for a 120mm fan, personally I would use this as an intake, however, you would need to be careful about the amount of dust being brought into the case from the floor before using an intake fan. We can also see the dust filtered PSU air intake which allows the PSU to intake cool air if that is the way you wish to orientate you PSU.

Now we move on to one of the worst things about this case, the fan controller. There is no other way to put it, the fan controller is dire and inadequate. As you can see in the photgraph below, it is essentially a two way switch that changes the fan voltage from 5v to 12v, which is connected to a 3-pin fan header. This header is then connected to two molex connectors, which is where the fans would connect. It seems bizzare to me that InWin, or in fact any case manufacturer, would implement any fan solution like this as the majority of aftermarket fans available on the market place today with run off 3 or 4 pin headers and do not even utilize a molex connector for power. Also the options available from the fan controller are just 5v or 12v, which  is rather shortsighted and limited, given that there are many few cases from numerous manufacturers that at least give you the option of 5v, 7v and 12v in turn offering a happy medium of air-flow and noise. To me it honestly just feels like InWin do not care about the end user and seemed intent on preventing the user to populate the case with fans. This is even more baffling when truth necessitates more fans in order to achieve anything near decent thermal performance from this case.do.

Installation

The installation of the system inside the InWin GT1 was, for the most part,  simple and painless, apart from trying to shoehorn in the Asus 7970 TOP. The graphics card frustratingly decided that it did not want to fit in the gap between the IO panel and the HDD bays making things much harder than I would have preferred. I also would have liked InWin to used rubber grommets on the cable management holes throughout the case as it would have added a better overall aesthetic to the case as well as giving it that extra bit of polish. The installation of massive Asus 7970 TOP graphics card was a tight squeeze but all in all, was nothing short of a tight fit.  This means that graphics cards up to 11.5” will fit (albeit tightly) but anything longer than 11.5″ and you will need to consider removing the top part of the HDD cage to allow the graphics card or expansion card to fit. On the bright side the removal of the HDD cage does have the bonus of improving the airflow inside the chassis so it’s not an entire loss. In general, I feel that the InWin GT1 looks good with the system built inside of it, and would look just that bit better if you were to color match the PSU with black and white of the case, which I have done here.

Here is the CPU cooler installed, to be more precise the Be Quiet! Dark Rock Pro 2 which is a large cooler. The BeQuiet isn’t the largest cooler in the world, but it just about fits inside the case with the side panel on so at least the clearance for the GT1 isn’t too narrow. However, you do need to put some pressure on the panel in order to fit the cooler in so the clearance isn’t perfect. Putting pressure on the panel is also not ideal as this pressure is going straight through the CPU socket area of the motherboard.

Now onto to the GPU clearance, whilst in this picture there appears to be plenty of room for the GPU, but let me assure you that getting the GPU into the case and installed is a little tricky. With the HDD cage installed the space is so narrow that it feels like installing a long GPU is akin to an irritating game of limbo at times. Bearing in mind that you will not get too many graphics cards longer than what I am using, Asus 7970 TOP DCII, there is still an inch of room behind the card until you get to the HDD bays.

 

Conclusion

Having used the InWin GT1 chassis for a good length of time now it’s time to evaluate it’s performance. Not only have I had it one the floor where my everyday work station normally sits, but also the GT1 has on the desk next to me so that I could appreciate the aesthetic of the case as well. At any rate it is time to share with you my thoughts and opinions on the InWin GT1 chassis.

Like Gavin’s review of the Antec GX700 chassis, the main draw of the GT1 will be the aesthetics of the case, with its sporty automotive style grills should get those gamers out there that enjoy their racing simulations rather interested. However, in regards to the GT1’s aesthetics there are drawbacks as well as benefits. Starting with the front panel, it is primarily meshed to allow airflow. On the surface this looked like a good move as the case is geared towards air cooling and I will admit that the front bay panels and meshing around the lower front panel do look rather good. However the inclusion of the two 3×3 squares made up of little hexagonal mesh are a little bit of a polarizing feature that you will either love or hate, and whilst the removable red hexagonal rings do add a little color to the front panel, they just do not tie in with the blue lights at the top of the case at all. In all honesty if InWin would have gone with a white and blue theme on this case it would have been something a little different to all the red and black and red and white cases and case modifications we see today.

In regards to the space and chassis usability, I also found that the chassis was not quite big enough to house the BeQuiet Dark Rock Pro 2 CPU cooler that I use for a lot of these reviews. It was only a couple of millimeters in excess but this was enough to stop the windowed side panel from fitting. In the end I had to apply a little pressure to the panel to properly fit the panel on which was pressing against the top of the cooler. This is far from ideal as it meant that there was a fair bit of pressure being pushed down onto the CPU socket area because of the door pressing on the cooler which could potentially damage the motherboard. The fans are of a decent quality, though I couldn’t help but feel it would have been nice for InWin to include two front intake fans as standard or at the very least . This is because during testing and everyday use, the system was on the warm side compared to when I have used other cases in a similar price range such as the Corsair 200R which was able to keep the system a few degrees cooler in comparison.

I have a feeling that this is down to the design of the drive cages. There are ventilation holes in in the cages, but when you have some of them the airflow is severely impeded, coupled with the cut outs not being too spacious, the HDD cages are actually pretty intrusive to intake airflow. There is aksi not a lot of moving air inside the chassis itself in the stock configuration due to the rather small amount of fans.  However, when I populated the system with Bit Fenix Spectre Pro fans, the temps were down by a good few degrees, to more acceptable levels, so its not all bad, just seems the fans need a little more performance behind them or that InWin should include at least one top exhaust fan.

This then brings us to the fan controller. Without being rude, it is not great. InWin have decided to implement the fan controller through the use of molex powered fans. While this is fine, and even works well with the case’s stock fans, it impedes on the use of most aftermarket fans with this controller because most aftermarket fans are 3 or 4-pin and unless one would use exclusively molex powered fans, the controller is practically useless. This is far from ideal and seeing as the price range InWin are competing with involves the likes of NZXT, Corsair and Antec, this is a big let down with the competitions solutions being designed much better. The switch itself is a two way, with one mode being a ‘Silent’ mode and the other being ‘Turbo’, this switch appears to change the voltage of the fans between 5v at silent and 12v at turbo. It would have been nice to see the inclusion of a 7v mode, just so there was that happy medium for the end user to have if they so wanted.Not to mention the fact that the lack of a middle ground means sacrificing air cooling performance in lieu of noise.

With all that being said about the fans, for those of you wanting to watercool without having to make serious modifications to the case, this just will not be possible. There is minimal room in the roof of the case after putting the fans in, which thankfully is tool-less as they just clip into the roof panel, but the front fans just are not accessible without drilling out the rivets holding the hard drive cages in. Although one could argue that if you are spending around £50 on a case the likelihood of watercooling it would probably be low. That said, the case just simply isn’t very conducive to watercooling.

Moving away from the cooling, there thankfully is ample room for multiple storage options, whether you prefer SSD’s or HDD’s, as well as providing an ample amount of 5.25 drive bays which means if you did want to watercool you could hypothetically fit a dual bay pump and res combo with a DVD drive. At the very least the storage options are rather generous so I can’t complain too much here.

An area that I feel InWin could have done much better on is the cable management side of things. The inside of the case offers a decent amount cable routing options, with there being cut out onlys for the 24pin power and the PCI-E power plugs as well as any SATA cables you would need to get round to the your drive bays. However, they have oddly decided not to include the cutout at the top of the motherboard try for the 8-pin CPU power and any option for the routing of any fan cables that you may want to use. This is a strange decision in my mind, mainly because if you are going to go to the effort of routing your cables properly to make the system look tidy, why wouldn’t you include a cut out to cater for the top of the motherboard. Also, the space behind the motherboard tray and the side panel is minimal despite the lump. I could not fit any of the cables from the Antec PSU that we used in the space behind the motherboard tray without them pushing out on the back panel which is really strange given the spacing they planned initially. Granted there is, what I like to refer to as the ‘power bulge’, which would give space for cable management, but with it being in the middle of the panel and there being no cable tie options it seems a little pointless to include. In the end I tidied all the cables in the recessed area behind the drive cages, which while not ideal, worked. It did however make accessing the drives a little harder than it would need to be but compromises had to be made to make a tidy system. It would also have been nice to see some rubber grommets in the cable management holes just to give it that little bit more polish and a slightly better look and finish overall.

Now for a few good points. The roof panel is rather well designed having easy to remove clips which allow you to take the whole plastic roof panel off in one piece. This then gives you easy access to the two tool-less fan mounts on this panel, which is also a nice feature as it made installing or even changing the fans quick and easy. The window is nice and big and though it does has the InWin branding across it, this is not ostentatious and it is nice to see a company just including a plain window as opposed to putting fan grilles in it. The front fan as well as the PSU are meshed to limit some of the dust build up in the case which despite it’s rather basic implementation is still a good inclusion given the price bracket. And then there are the aesthetic pluses. Whilst it is not to my liking there are people out there who will love this aggressive, sporty design. I can see the appeal to some people as there are more and more case modifications appearing on forums being inspired by various supercars so the aesthetics may be a selling point to people who appreciate it.

With regards to the price, InWin have decided to put this in to an already overcrowded bracket and I feel that the main attraction with this case is its aesthetics and to a small extent, the price. From a system builder’s and reviewer’s point of view, if you wanted a bit more space and more compatibility with coolers, whether they be air or all-in-one watercoolers, I would go with the Antec GX700. That is not to say that the InWin is not a case to be considered, if you are solely going for aesthetics in your build, and lets face it a lot of us do,this may be what you want. If InWin implemented a better fan controller, slightly better fans, and sorted out the cable management, then this would be a very good case for the price that it is entering the market at.

In the end, I cannot give the InWin GT1 an award as I feel there is far too much room for improvement. With better implementation of the fan controller, cable management, stock fans and a slight improvement in build quality, this would be placed at a very good price. Even if it meant the case was sold at a slightly higher price of around £59.99, it would still be justifiable. If you are inspired and appreciate the sports car influenced aesthetics and want a sporty, race car inspired case then this may be the case for you, but I feel that InWin are mainly marketing the aesthetic as opposed to the performance and construction quality of the case so with that said I can’t award the GT1 any accolades..

I would like to take the time to say thank you to InWin for the sample and we at Play3r look forward to seeing more in the near future.

  • Performance
  • Design
  • Value

Summary

To begin with, I really wanted to like the InWin GT1 case, with its simple but likable aesthetic, and relatively small form factor. However, with its poor thermal and acoustic performance, teamed with a poor implementation of a fan controller, I feel i cannot give this case more than three and a half stars overall as there is just too much to be improved.

3.5

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