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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

Closer Look: Interior

As with most things in life, you cannot judge a book simply by its cover. The way a case looks may be one of the most important external features about it, but the interior of the case needs to be able to properly house all of your components. In the next sections we will look at the inside and then fill the Z9 Plus with components to see whether this case is as nice on the inside as it is on the outside.

Zalman_Z9Plus_Interior_Empty.jpg

This is an image of the Z9 Plus empty. You can see the elegant black paint fully covers the interior of the chassis. Some of the major features of the interior include tool free hard drive installation, and an internal SSD mount. We will take a look at these features and several others.

Zalman_Z9Plus_Interior_CableManagementSide.jpg

This is an image of the opposite side of the case, underneath the motherboard. The wiring is what is included with the case for the fans, fan controller, USB ports, and everything else for the I/O panel. There are two pass-through 4 pin molex plugs, two 3 pin fan power plugs, two USB headers, a AC97/HD Audio header, and the plugs for power/reset/LED. By design, this is where you would run all of your cabling so that you don't have it cluttering up the interior of your case reducing the airflow, and making it look bad. Measuring the distance between the back of the motherboard tray and the exterior wall of the case gives you roughly 1/2" of room to tuck your cables in, which should be plenty for most all of your cables. There are plenty of open spaces to run your cables through and tie-off points for zip-ties and twist-ties to allow for proper cable management. Also shown in this photo is the large open space behind the motherboard to allow access to your CPU cooler. This can allow you to work on whatever cooling system you have installed without having to remove the whole motherboard just to remove a couple nuts from the backplate.

Zalman_Z9Plus_Internal_SSDTray.jpg

Still looking behind the motherboard tray, this is a close-up of the SSD mount. The drive would obviously mount on the opposite side of the motherboard. Mounting a drive here would allow you to keep it separate from your other hot hard drives, or even completely hide it if you have no other hard drives. One downfall is that there is not a lot of airflow through this section of the case, so heat may be an issue. It is still nice to see a clever use of a space that typically has nothing there.

Zalman_Z9Plus_Interior_PSUCage_Empty.jpg

Shown here is the place where your power supply goes. The power supply can be mounted in either orientation to accommodate those with different fan configurations. There are vents underneath the PSU to allow airflow from underneath, but I am a little disappointed that they chose to not put a dust cover over these vents, but the fan mount right next to it has a cover. The rubber stand-offs help reduce vibration and sound from your PSU.

Zalman_Z9Plus_Interior_SSDCage.jpg

Shown here is the adapter for using a 3.5" drive such as a floppy, memory card reader, or any other 3.5" device in your 5.25" bay. This comes pre-installed in the bottom 5.25" bay, but is easy enough to move around.



 

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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