Starting with the front of the unit, we see it has some similarities with the Antec/Chieftec line of enclosures. Though it is shorter in stature, it still has the ability to handle an ample amount of devices, but we'll go deeper into that a bit later on.
Since we're talking pre-mod designs here, it should be noted that the round Z emblem glows with a blue LED when the system is turned on. While not the brightest of LED devices I've seen so far, it still puts out a good deal of light.
Also of note are the curved lighting effects above and below the emblem. These glow red and work as hard drive activity indicators. The lighting effects give this case a unique appearance that helps set it apart from other modified cases that are currently on the market.
Toward the base of the front bezel are the customary USB ports and headphone/microphone ports. There is also a cutout for a Firewire port, but it was not included in the tested enclosure. It was nice to see the inclusion of these ports since it is an easy way to help cut costs on an enclosure design. Plus, the ability to access USB devices without having to pull the case out and mess around back is always a welcome improvement.
You'll notice that the door opens backwards from most other designs currently available. While some may think this is odd, it actually works a bit better. If you're the type of person who places the case flush against the underside of your desk with the non-fanned side against the side panel, then you'll find this direction of opening the door more convenient.
For those who don't have drives the same color as their case, no problem. Just close the door and your off-color drives are totally hidden from view.
With modifications becoming very popular today, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise to see the side window added. The design is unusual when compared with others I've seen, but is still manages to maintain structural integrity so it won't make the case overly flimsy and unstable.
It should also be pointed out that the paint on this case has a very noticeable gloss to it. This will be another item that sets this enclosure apart from its competitors. Nice touch!
In the middle of the window resides a lighted 80mm fan to help in the cooling chores, but it is more for looks than function. It does give a good airflow boost, but it would have been better placed over the AGP/PCI areas of a mounted motherboard.
One thing I noticed was the filter element sitting below the designer fan grill. Since dust and dirt are two of our most dreaded enemies, it is good to see an active approach to minimizing these elements.
Moving on to the rear of the case shows us a pretty standard design. We have a total of seven cutouts for the AGP/PCI slots, and when viewed closely you'll see this is one area where some cost cutting has taken place. When the cutouts are removed they require a blank to be placed in any empty slots. You'll also want to be careful when you remove them as you can bend the framing between the slots making installation of your peripherals a bit tricky. I don't think it will be a hindrance to the installation, but it is something that should be kept in mind when making your case buying decision.
Also of note are the cutouts for your motherboard's built-in peripherals. The case comes with a standard layout, but many modern mainboards don't conform to this design. You will need to completely remove the cutout plate in a manner similar to removing the PCI slot covers. While the custom backplates will fit in this slot when you install your motherboard, you will need a standard plate to utilize a normal motherboard in the future. This isn't included with the Z-series cases.
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