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Written by Nate Swetland - Edited by Olin Coles   
Thursday, 20 January 2011
Table of Contents: Page Index
Zalman Z9 Plus Mid-Tower Computer Case
Closer Look: Exterior
Detailed Exterior Features
Closer Look: Interior
Detailed Interior Features
Final Thoughts and Conclusion

Detailed Exterior Features

Many times, a case looks great from a distance but once you inspect it closer, you find a few flaws here and there. Often, these flaws don't amount to much more than personal preferences. Sometimes, however, these flaws turn out to be fatal to the design of the case. Let's take a closer look at the Z9 Plus's external features and see how close attention Zalman paid to the details.

Zalman_Z9Plus_Exterior_SideWindow.jpg

Shows in this picture is the windowed left side of the Z9 Plus. The window can accommodate up to two 120mm fans, and Zalman kindly included one 120mm Blue LED fan with the Z9 Plus. The other fan goes in the upper-right corner. In the corners where the fans mount, the side has an open air grill, but on the corners that don't hold a fan, there is clear acrylic. The grilled section allows air flow in and out of the case to cool your hot components.

Zalman_Z9Plus_Exterior_Front_Open.jpg

The above image shows the front of the case with the fascia removed. Behind that, you can see the 4 break-away 5.25" expansion bay covers. I am not at all fond of the break away covers, but Zalman smartly included a way to screw the covers back on when not using the bay. They should have simply made them screw-only and skipped the break-away part. The 5.25" covers on the front fascia are smartly covered with dust filters. If you remember from the specification chart, it says there are only 3 5.25" bays, but it appears there are 4 here. We will get into that later. On the bottom part of the image, you can see the removable filter for the 120mm or 140mm fan. Zalman included a Blue LED 120mm fan with the case to draw fresh outside air in and across your hard drives. The "Z" design on the front of the case may give you a little cause for concern, as it seems like it may impede air flow, but there appears to be enough open grill area and slots to allow enough air in. The front I/O panel can be moved around, but makes the most sense when installed on the top.

Zalman_Z9Plus_Exterior_Bottom.jpg

This is a picture of the bottom of the Z9 Plus. Zalman chose to include a mount for an optional bottom 120mmor 140mm fan. The fan opening is protected from the elements with a dust filter. Also on the bottom, you can see the unfiltered vents where the PSU will sit above. There are 4 rubber feet on each corner to provide grip and vibration resistance against any surface it sits on.

Zalman_Z9Plus_Exterior_LightsOn.jpg

The picture above show the Z9 Plus with the LED lights on. It also shows the I/O panel turned on. Zalman included 4 120mm fans with the case, and 3 of them are Blue LED fans. The front I/O panel has four USB 2.0 ports, a microphone port, a headphone jack, a fan speed control knob, temperature display, and of course the power/reset buttons and HDD/Power LED. I really appreciate the inclusion of the four USB ports. Many cases I see only have 2, and I find myself constantly switching devices and cords. The temperature display is very nice to be able to keep tabs on a particular area inside your case. The fan speed control knob is also very handy for controlling up to 2 fans. Please follow the review to the next page to take a look at the inside of the Z9 Plus.



 

Comments 

 
# RE: Zalman Z9 Plus Mid-Tower Computer CaseDougq 2011-01-20 22:51
Meh. Decent low budget case I guess. It's pretty functional, and I think you're review was clean and well ordered.

I'm still not seeing any innovative ideas in case making, save the side mount drives, putting their rear ends back where the connectors are, which is good.

I also don't like the cheap look of stamped metal and injection molded plastic, but hey, it's what everyone does.

I can see why you think the case is decent looking, but for me, it might win one of the fugliest cases ever award. But I'm really nit picky when it comes to cases.

As stated before, I have a CcolerMaster Stacker 830 SE black brushed full aluminum case, and it's build quality and thick aluminum is second to none, along with its beautiful design. It's an old case and still puts to shame many of the newer ones in form and functionality. You can still by these iconic cases, but their prices haven't gone down in 5 years. They will set you back almost 300US dollars.

Here is the case in bare brushed aluminum:
##coolermaster.com/product.php?product_id=16

Now THAT is a handsome case!
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# RE: RE: Zalman Z9 Plus Mid-Tower Computer CaseNate Swetland 2011-01-21 08:38
@Dougg - Thanks for the comments. I actually own the original CM Stacker case, now known as the Stacker 810 ATX. That may be one of the best looking cases I have ever owned, but both the 810 and the 830 are/were near twice the price of the Z9 Plus, so they can't really be compared in the same way. Stamped metal and plastic tends to cost significantly less to use than brushed aluminum, which is reflected in the cost. I do not disagree with your taste in the Stacker cases, they are very sharp.

As far as it looking good or bad, I think we can agree that is very much a subjective category. If you don't like a particular color or material, and the case is made out of it, you will think it does not look good, but another person will praise it up and down. It is just the way it works.

Again, thanks for your comments!
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# RE: RE: RE: Zalman Z9 Plus Mid-Tower Computer CaseDoug 2011-01-21 13:47
Nate agreed on the subjective nature of looks for sure. Function comes first, as I can live with subjectively ugly, but not with objectively functionless. The price difference is also a fair evaluation. If you have noticed, CM no longer carries the 830 Stacker series. I guess it was too expensive to be too profitable.
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# RE: Zalman Z9 Plus Mid-Tower Computer CaseRobrt17 2011-01-21 06:06
It's nice to see certain design trends filtering down from the higher end cases to the mid-range such as wire management, dust filters, fan controllers, tooless mounting, and water cooling ducts. All this, and the cases are still affordable which will allow many more enthusiasts to enjoy these benefits. In my mind it will help create more enthusiasts rather than frustrated or price-shocked builders.

Thanks Nate. Good review.
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# RE: RE: Zalman Z9 Plus Mid-Tower Computer CaseNate Swetland 2011-01-21 08:40
@Robert - Thanks for the comments. I agree with you. I think it is nice that companies are now taking some of the trends and features typically reserved for the high-end and high-priced chassis and putting them into their mid-market cases. Just because consumers may not want a case that will cost them an arm and a leg, they still want one with decent features.
I hope more and more companies continue these trends. Having the same features as the high-end cases will require more innovation just to keep the cases in the high-end categories and justify the costs.

Thanks!
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# Nice reviewEd Hume 2011-01-21 18:47
First of all, thanks for measuring the distance between the mb tray and the right side panel.

This case has some nice features, especially for this price point. I liked the two 140mm fans on top. That means your can block off the rear position and set up the forward position as an intake to feed your cpu cooler fresh air.

I liked the bottom 140mm intake - with filter.

The HD cage seems to be made with mesh, so there is better airflow past the HD's.

Finally, if you put your ODD up top, you will have three 5.25 slots available for a 120mm intake fan., which can also feed fresh air to the heatsink.

Lots of opportunities in this inexpensive case.
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# RE: Nice reviewNate Swetland 2011-01-24 09:47
Thanks for the comments.
The bottom intake fan is a nice option. But, depending on your PSU, it may be a pretty tight fit with all the wires down there. I still don't understand why they put a fan filter there, but not one for the PSU intake.

Adding a 120mm fan in the 5.25" slots would indeed be a great way to push fresh air from the front all the way across the heatsink and out the back, or straight out the top depending on your heatsink and fan position.
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