Zalman Z9 Neo Mid-Tower ATX Gaming Case Review — Tom’s Hardware
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Great noise control and good thermal performance add to the Z9 Neo’s excellent price and adequate feature set, making it a better value for the majority of mid-tower gaming PC builders.
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Cheaper than most gaming cases
Supports two dual-fan radiators
Includes five fans
Room for big cards and oversized motherboards
Great cooling-to-noise ratio
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Introducing Zalman’s Newer Neo
Companies like Zalman know that mainstream computing and mainstream PC gaming are completely different markets: While the typical mainstream PC might get by with a $40-$60 case or some deluxe (quieter) version thereof, gaming hardware puts more heat into the case, which a gaming-market case must then expel. The result is that gamers have the privilege of paying twice as much for hardware, typically $80-$120. Zalman’s response with the Z9 Neo seems to be “We can beat that.”
Most of us know that Zalman isn’t the first company to try beating the market on both quality and price; Antec did this long ago with the sturdy materials of the 300 Illusion, and Cooler Master more recently with the EATX capability of its MasterBox 5. Of course Cooler Master basically gutted the front end of its MasterBox 5 to make room for EATX motherboards, and Zalman could have just as easily listed EATX capability by simply not including its top two removable bays. And even though the Z9 Neo doesn’t have the extra standoffs to hold a 13″ board, it just as easily holds the targeted 10.65”-deep enthusiast-class motherboards that drive the mislabeled EATX gaming case market.
And we shouldn’t bury the lede: all three of the cases I just mentioned reached their glory by capitalizing on a $70 web price.
Several of our readers have dumped on USB 2.0 ports, but the Z9 Neo offers those in addition to USB 3.0 ports. We’d rather have the extra ports than not, even if they’re covered with easily-lost rubber dust plugs.
Stand out features include a rubber-backed, aluminum-skinned drive door. Anyone who despises external bays need not open that door, while those of us with bay devices such as the Asus OC Panel can gain easy access.
The Z9 Neo top panel features a floating tinted plastic fan cover. Two included 120mm lighted LED fans reside between the metal structural panel and plastic façade.
A small pull-out filter covers the power supply’s air inlet.
Front fan filtration is a little more difficult to remove, requiring the user to pull off the Z9 Neo’s face panel and slip the edges of the filter mesh out from under holding tabs. Two 120mm fans are also found here, though these lack the LEDs found on the top fans.
Building With The Z9 Neo
Zalman provides just enough space behind the Z9 Neo’s motherboard tray to slide through the main ATX power cable, and not much room for other cables to cross it. Most builders will be fine as long as they plan their wire routing with that limitation in mind.
The lower portion of the Z9 Neo includes both a power supply cover and a two-tray drive cage, and both of these are riveted in place.
Both the upper and lower trays support 2.5” and 3.5” internal drives, but the screw-on upper bay also supports 5.25” external bay devices. Meanwhile, the slide-out lower tray offers vibration damping for 3.5” mechanical drives.
Liquid cooling fans will probably like that the Z9 Neo has clearance for 1.3”-thick radiators both behind the front fans and below the top fans. The front fan mounts further support a pair of 140mm fans, while the top mount is limited to a pair of 120mm parts.
The Z9 Neo installation manual was wrapped around its hardware pack, and I took time to flatten it rather than report that it wouldn’t lay flat. Several thumb screws and cable ties are included in addition to the regular mounting hardware.
A split power LED connector fits both standard two-pin and legacy three-pin spacing. Knowing that motherboard manufacturers ditched AC-97 audio in favor of HD Audio around 15 years ago, Zalman ditched the messy legacy adapter.
The three standoffs shown in the installation kit fill the third column of a full ATX motherboard installation, or the middle row of a Micro ATX installation. Our motherboard is ATX.
Confounding marketers of tool-free features, the Z9 Neo proves that screw-together installation is usually the easiest.
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Zalman Z9 Neo: Price Comparison
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Introducing Zalman’s Newer Neo
Next Page Test Results And Conclusion
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom’s Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
Zalman Z9 Neo Mid-Tower ATX Case Review
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Welcome back to the chassis review corner of Technology X. Today we are going to be taking a look at the Z9 Neo from Zalman and we are quite excited about it as we haven’t featured a case from them yet. They have put together a short video that will show you around the case a little before we get more in depth!
As you can see from the video the Z9 looks like a pretty cool case. Ours came in white rather then black, so instead of that polished look the black has, white has a glossy look to the front panel and plastic matte top cover and steel side panels. The Z9 comes with a snazzy plastic bag with a mixed bundle of screws, stand-offs and tie-down cables.
First thing we always notice is the I/O panel and the Z9’s follows the norm with the Power Button, reset, audio jacks and four USB ports (2x 2. 0/2x 3.0). The front panel has a door that opens to the right and is not interchangeable. The inside of the door panel has a sound dampening material and the door secures closed magnetically. There is also room for two 5.25″ drives. At the bottom of the front panel you’ll be able to feel the handle to pop off the panel, do so. It pops off pretty easily but right away we run into the dreaded attached I/O panel. This style of panel makes it difficult to maneuver around and we end up pulling the I/O cables completely out for the build until needed. You’ll also notice the two OD Bays are covered by break-away metal covers which you simply bend back and forth to remove if desired. There is also a dust cover for the two front fans but it is a flimsy mesh and only slips in holders at the top and bottom leaving us to believe there is the possibility of unnecessary dust sneaking in the sides. The front panel has two white-bladed 120 fans but will accommodate 140’s. Removing the window-panel you’ll see the Z9’s playground. Filled with pass-throughs, some with rubber grommets and some without. Along the top you’ll see two LED 120’s which are completely receded into the top panel giving you that extra space if you choose to add a radiator in the top. Along the inside on the right you’ll see two side-mounts for 2.5 drives as well as an abundance of tie-downs. The PSU will be separated and installed from the far side as there is a solid PSU cover. This will help keep that tidy look when it comes to cable management, but also tells us we won’t be able to install our PSU inverted as there is no way to get the air through. Over to the cable-management side you’ll see there are three Velcro straps running between the vertical pass-throughs as well at the bottom there is a shelf for two HDD/SDD’s. This bay isn’t removable, well not meant to be, but with a little effort we’re sure you could.The Rear shows us a basic layout with the PCI slot thumb-screws needing to be accessed from the inside as well showing you the rear exhaust white-bladed 120 fan. There is also a dust cover along the bottom for your PSU.
Overall our initial thoughts on the case are great. We are impressed with the amount of pass-throughs, tie-downs and fans. Would have liked to see a better dust cover in the front panel and the ability to invert the PSU by putting air vents in the PSU cover’s top side. Also, four of the five fans are Molex connected which isn’t a huge deal but depending on your PSU could cause space issues if you don’t have many spare ports. So far so good and on to the build!
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Case overview Zalman Z9 Neo White
Zalman Z9 Neo White (there is a version of the device in a different color) is perhaps the most successful case in the brand’s line, this is due to the wide possibilities for competent assembly of an internal system of any complexity using CBO, powerful PSU and overall components.
External features and specifications
Zalman Z9 Neo White is made in the Mid Tower form factor. Outwardly, the snow-white body looks amazing, especially when turned on, because some areas are illuminated with blue lamps.
|Zalman Z9 Neo White
|ATX Mid Tower
|Maximum video card length
|Number of 5.25″ bays
|Number of 3.5″ bays
|Number of 2.5″ bays
|Front panel cooling
|2x120mm (optional 140mm)
|Cooling from the back
|microphone, headphones, 2xUSB 2.0, 2xUSB 3.0
One of the side walls is equipped with an acrylic window. The front panel is nothing more than a door behind which hides a massive dust filter and air intake holes for front fans. Another filter, but smaller, is located at the bottom of the case, where the power supply is located.
In addition to audio connectors and Power and Reset buttons, there are four USB interfaces on the top of the Zalman Z9 Neo White, a couple of them are version 2.0, the rest are high-speed threes . All four are prudently protected by removable covers.
Processor — Intel Xeon E5-2620 v4
Motherboard — ASUS ROG Strix X99 Gaming
Cooling system — Noctua NH-L12
Video card — Palit GeForce GTX 1060 Super JetStream
For proper assembly of the system in Zalman Z9 Neo White, it is necessary to dismantle both side doors, because behind the windowless wall there are seats for SSDs, a hard drive cage, Velcro for fixing wires and many other useful details.
To remove heat, the case designers decided to equip the reviewed model with as many as five 120 mm fans. Two of them (located on top of the case) with LED backlight.
Enthusiasts who are accustomed to cooling powerful hardware with CBOs have two seats for two-section radiators: behind the front door and on top of the Zalman Z9 Neo White, just where the LED propellers are nominally located.
For PSU and 3.5″ drives, a separate block is implemented (it is closed with a metal casing) at the bottom of the Zalman Z9neo white.
In terms of design, this is a very controversial decision, because for many users this is not a very convenient format: you have to make additional gestures to install the power supply inside, plus there is less creative space . Well, a positive factor is an effective heat sink.
It is convenient to assemble the system inside the Zalman Z9 Neo White, there is enough space for overall video cards, coolers and motherboards (the height is maximum ATX, but it is possible to install a wider version MoBo ).
Classic screws are mainly used for fixing components, which is a plus. By the way, it’s really possible to install a couple of 2.5″ drives or SSDs from the inside of the case, and not just from the back.
Zalman Z9 Neo White’s most notable functional feature is a large number of holes for wiring, they are located exactly where they are most needed.
The Zalman Z9 Neo White is reminiscent of the recently tested Corsair Carbide Clear 400C case. Both are snow-white with the same type of internal structure and dimensions. But the second model costs at least twice as much as today’s guest from Zalman, and this is a clear competitive advantage of the first.
Zalman Z9 Neo White is one of the best representatives of the Mid Tower class and, in principle, one of the brightest cases that we have visited this year. Uncompromising device. Recommended. Zalman Z9 Neo case review — Articles and Reviews Perhaps because of this, the company for a long time did not dare to make any changes in this model, except for cosmetic ones. When I finally saw the updated Zalman Z9 chassis on the official websiteNeo just couldn’t believe his eyes. It seemed to me that instead of the site of a Korean company, I ended up somewhere in the fiefdom of Antec or Fractal Design. But no, the address turned out to be correct and it was really Zalman Z9, but only with the Neo prefix. Well, let’s see if there is anything left in it from the previous model, except for the name.
Packaging and delivery
Zalman’s new packaging style is not much different from the old one. On both sides there is a schematic representation of the case. Tables with specifications and some names, for some reason, are glued to the box, and not printed on it. Perhaps because there are photos of other revisions of this chassis on the network. And the boxes are the same for everyone. Damage protection is standard — foam dampers, bags and stickers.
Packaged in a neat plastic cosmetic bag, includes:
- assembly instructions;
- quality control technical sheet;
- five cable ties.
- three additional motherboard racks;
- four plastic thumb screws for the power supply;
- eight body screws;
- 12 flat head screws to secure 3.5″ drives;
- six screws to secure drive baskets;
- 18 small screws for motherboard, 2.5″ drives and 5.25″ devices.
The mesh ventilated design of the Z9 Neo’s predecessor is gone. The front panel of the case is solid, with a specific gray mirror paint, which makes the plastic look like polished aluminum. The company logo is emblazoned at the bottom. Control buttons and ports are placed on the top edge.
The front panel is a door that opens to the right side (the recess for opening is on the top left), and its reverse side is lined with a layer of noise insulation. It is held on by two magnets and three loops. Behind the door at the top there are two seats for 5.25″ devices, closed with solid plugs. The lower half of the front panel is occupied by a plastic ventilation grill, behind which a metal mesh of a dust filter is visible.
Updated Zalman Z9 ChassisThe Neo has many improvements over its Z9 predecessor. The appearance has become more pleasant and strict, the stock of internal space in the case has noticeably increased due to the removal of unnecessary compartments, the possibility of laying wires has improved, a complete set of relatively quiet fans has appeared, it has become possible to install CBO systems on the front and rear panels. This is all positive, no doubt. After all, a number of painful problems were solved, which stopped many who wished from buying this case.
However, all these improvements were not in vain, and the overall cost of the case increased slightly, since it no longer skimped on matches (for example, reusable plugs, power supply filter, rubber shutters and Velcro for cable management). The second point that confuses me is not a very good ventilation system, due to which the system components will heat up more. For most ordinary users, this is not critical, but for enthusiasts who are fighting for every degree in their system overclocked to the limit, this can be a stumbling block.