The Zalman Z9 Neo Case Reviewby E. Fylladitakis on May 20, 2016 9:00 AM EST
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The Interior of the Zalman Z9 Neo
Even in the white version, the interior of the Zalman Z9 Neo is all black, including all of the cables. The motherboard stand-offs are bronze and the blades of the front and rear cooling fans are white. The matte black paint that the chassis is sprayed with is not highly prone to fingermarks, but not resistant either. A large opening on the motherboard tray allows for the installation of aftermarket CPU coolers without having to remove the motherboard from the case. Zalman extended the opening to the boundaries of a flex ATX motherboard, maximizing compatibility, but the opening will not be fully covered if a Mini ITX motherboard is installed.
Numerous openings for the routing of cables are present along the edges of the motherboard. Strangely, those to the right and the bottom of the motherboard are covered with rubber grommets, but those above the motherboard are not, even though their size is identical to those below the motherboard. Zalman probably thought that these are too high to be visible from the windowed side panel. A metallic cover with the company logo punched on it separates the main system from the PSU compartment. Two more openings can be seen on this cover, again without rubber grommets. The cover is not removable.
Drive support is a little complex. Zalman claims that the Zalman Z9 Neo can hold two 5.25” drives, four 3.5” drives and six 2.5” drives. This is partially accurate, with the correct definition being “up to” that number of drives. Two 2.5” drives can be attached directly on the motherboard’s tray, beneath the 5.25” cages. Two 3.5” or two 2.5” drives can be installed into the plastic trays in front of the PSU area. Finally, two 5.25” drives or two 3.5” drives or two 2.5” drives can be installed onto the 5.25” drive cages.
The plastic trays that Zalman chose for the 2.5”/3.5” drive cage are somewhat oversized, with a plastic bumper in front of the drive. 3.5” drives can lock without tools but 2.5” drives will have to be attached with screws.
It is also interesting to note that the 5.25” drive cages are removable. By default, their position cannot really block and long cards or large coolers, but we believe that modders will appreciate the function.
A look at the top of the case reveals two clear blue LED fans, bringing the stock number of fans that the Zalman Z9 Neo comes with up to five. There is also a lot of clearance above the motherboard, allowing the comfortable installation of liquid cooler radiators up to 28 mm thick.
For the means of this review, we installed a Corsair AX760i with the red cable set, for strong visual contrast. The AX760i fits like a glove inside the Zalman Z9 Neo, with enough room for managing the cables. The cables are also more than long enough for a typical system. With a full 2.2 cm clearance at the back of the motherboard, numerous cable tie points and cable straps across the side grommets, cable management should be a breeze even for amateurs.
A standard ATX system fits inside the system area of the Zalman Z9 Neo with relative comfort. There is a long of space in front of the motherboard, allowing cards up to 420 mm long to the installed. Very long cards will block access to the 2.5” drive slots, forcing the user to remove the card(s) if the 2.5” drives need to be removed/installed there. Our only concern is that the case is rather narrow, limiting the height of the CPU cooler up to 160 mm. Although this is enough for the majority of mainstream aftermarket coolers, it negates compatibility with nearly every top tier air cooler currently available. Other than that, the Zalman Z9 Neo is relatively spacious for a case of its size, allowing the installation of top tier hardware and AIO liquid cooling solutions.
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HollyDOL - Friday, May 20, 2016 - linkOh, my tomcat would definitely love this case... especially those little USB inserts. I'd give it about half hour tops before being discovered and ... privatized :-)
HollyDOL - Friday, May 20, 2016 - linkNot to sound ironic, it seems like a good case, esp. related to the cost.
Flunk - Friday, May 20, 2016 - linkWhat does that have to do with it not being cat-proof?
I think you'd be ok if you removed the transparent section on the top and didn't use the port covers. The other parts are a bit big for a cat to make off with. Although I say that, my cat has stolen my razer and hidden it before.
Haravikk - Tuesday, May 24, 2016 - linkGet rid of the cat; problem solved.
No really, pet-related problems are the fault of having a pet, not products being designed around pets. Cat hair is one of the worst things for computers in general, so get rid of the cat and you not only save a ton of money, but solve that problem completely.
JoeyJoJo123 - Wednesday, May 25, 2016 - linkHow about you get rid of that disgusting attitude you have towards other animal species?
I have 4 adopted cats I take care of, not because I went to an adoption center, but because of crappy people like you who leave them abandoned on the street, with no home, no shelter, and no food. Just like me or you, cats didn't ask to be born. They just do their best to live another day. I was gracious enough to accept not one, not two, not three, but four abandoned pets from my neighborhood and gave them a loving home.
Also, cat hair isn't an issue. Regular vacuuming and A/C filter replacements takes care of that issue. It's a matter of PEBCAK. In other words, you're too lazy to vacuum (whereas you should regardless of whether you have pets or not) and you're too lazy to replace A/C filters throughout your home on a regular basis.
flyingpants265 - Tuesday, April 2, 2019 - linkWhoa, not often you see someone that delusional.
MadAd - Friday, May 20, 2016 - linkI'm constantly amazed how much full size ATX is still used.
Kepe - Friday, May 20, 2016 - linkWhy? mATX and mITX motherboards support 0 expandability. For example, I have a fast PCIe SSD and a PCIe sound card. And of course a PCIe GPU, and room for even more stuff. Also, I have support for SLI and CrossFire. You couldn't have those on a smaller motherboard. mATX has its place in the market, for people who want to build as small a PC as possible, or for those who want a living room media PC.
Black Obsidian - Friday, May 20, 2016 - linkAll of your points are true, but also irrelevant for (I would guess) north of 90% of all users, who need 0 expandability. SLI is relatively rare, PCIe sound cards rarer still. And yet full ATX remains the most common form factor.
IMO, it's motherboard selection that's holding people back more than cases. I have one CPU, one high-end GPU, one PCIe M.2 SSD, and no expectation of ever needing any additional PCIe slots... and yet I have a full-ATX motherboard, because Asus didn't offer any mATX motherboards with the features I wanted.
just4U - Monday, May 23, 2016 - linkI'd say it's not Motherboard selection.. We have had some variety for awhile now.. What's lacking is casing... casing.. casing. Can't stress that enough.
I'd kill for a good ole lian-li type PC-60 without all the 5.25 drive bays /w a wider chassis to accommodate 120MM fans.. and cable management.. provided it had the old school removable MB Tray..
Can think of about 50 other cases out there that would be great sellers to if these case makers would just shrink them down for the Mitx market..It's not rocket science to know what works and what doesn't.