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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

Zalman Case Final Thoughts

Computer cases come in a variety of sizes, colors and shapes. While there may not be a definitive measurement to determine whether a case is good or not, there are definitely things that can stand out as being good or bad. Cases are typically not overly expensive, but they do have the responsibility of securing the most expensive parts of your computer components, so there is not much room for failure.

Zalman's reputation is that of solid CPU cooling components, and they have been around since 1999, so you tend to expect good products from them. The Z9 Plus is not their first case in the market, but it is one of their newest, and is priced so that everyone can afford it. The Z9 Plus has several positive points to it. The case itself is very good looking. The elegant black matte color, and nicely designed front fascia make for a very appealing look. The included 4 Zalman branded fans are a very welcome addition to the case for added air flow, as well as the option for 3 more fans! The cable management of the Z9 Plus is very accommodating, allowing most of the wiring to pass through to be hidden behind the motherboard. Having a full 290mm for support on the larger GPUs is very nice, also.

Not every case is without its flaws, and the Z9 Plus is no exception. Flaws are a fact of life, it is important that these flaws do not impact the case to the point of being unusable. The break-away covers for the PCI brackets and 5.25" bays have to go. The 5.25" bays get a pass because they can be screwed back on, but you can't replace the PCI covers which is bad if you change your components around a lot. I am not impressed with Zalman's choice to include 3 fans with a 3 pin power connector on them, and leave one ugly duckling with a 4 pin molex plug. Zalman is a company with a huge assortment of cooling products, so I know they have plenty of fan choices at their disposal. Please stick to all 3 pin connectors in the future. I was not at all pleased with the Power Supple vents underneath not having a dust filter. I also would have liked to see a small gap between the power supply and the motherboard to allow for cables to be hidden all the way to the bottom left corner of the motherboard (some of us actually use a lot of those headers).

I think Zalman has a very solid Mid ATX case in the Z9 Plus. It looks nice, the components install easily, and there are only a few minor setbacks. The largest setback for me is the unfiltered PSU intake vents, but that is not a show stopper. I am sure some sacrifices must be made to ensure that a case like this stays at the price point.

Z9 Plus Conclusion

Performance on this case is well within acceptable levels. The 4 included fans provided excellent air flow in and out of the case. The temperature on the LCD stays in the low 30s Celsius when it is put right at the base of the CPU. The fans are not loud at all. While adjusting the speed gauge, I could barely even tell the fans were running faster.

The Appearance of this case is very good in my opinion. I like the sleek black look. There are blue LED fans inside that give it a nice interior glow. The front temperature and HDD LED are red, and the power button is blue. I really like the "Z" designed into the front fascia. I enjoy having a window on the side, but I also like that it is functional by allowing two 120mm fans to be installed on it.

The Construction of the case is sturdy. It is made of steel and plastic, so it is not exactly high-end material, however. There is a little bit of flex room in the metal, but not so much that you would say it is cheap or any real problem at all. The case comes apart easy enough. The front comes off with just a few clips, and the same with the top for easy maintenance and cleaning. I didn't find a single sharp edge while installing my components, but that should be expected of most any case in my opinion.

The Functionality of the case is superb. The front I/O panel performs like it should. The buttons, lights, ports, and dials all work well. The fan controller is a nice touch, and it controls the fans well. The included temperature gauge shows the temperature in Celsius of any area you want, and the screen is very easy to read. Installation of the components is very easy and straightforward.

Regarding Value, Zalman put a lot into this case, but does not expect a lot of cash out of you. The Zalman Z9 Plus is currently listed for $69.99 at Amazon and Newegg. I feel that is a great price point for a case with these features and style.

I think that if you are in the market for a decent yet affordable computer case, the Zalman Z9 Plus is absolutely worth the money.

Pros:Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award

+ Great Looking
+ Great Price
+ Good Cable Management
+ 4 Included Zalman 120mm Fans
+ Feature Packed Front I/O Panel
+ Room for up to 7 fans


- Break-Away PCI and 5.25" Covers
- No dust filter for PSU intake
- Tool-free parts still require tools initially


  • Performance: 9.00
  • Appearance: 9.50
  • Construction: 8.00
  • Functionality: 9.00
  • Value: 9.50

Final Score: 9.0 out of 10.

Excellence Achievement: Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award.

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# 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:

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.

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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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