A-Top Technology Z-Alien Enclosure Review

If you have a problem with the green little men which are extraterrestrials, please don't read this review. For those who are fine with our intergalactic neighbors, you might be interested in our review of the Z-Alien enclosure case from A-Top Technology. It got us interested, very interested indeed.
| Jun 29, 2004 at 11:00 pm CDT
Rating: 95%Manufacturer: A-Top Technology

Z-Alien Enclosure - Introduction

IntroductionNo more is a black or silver aluminum case good enough to get attention of your geeky friend or neighbor. These days, case manufactures have to move outside the square and do something different - some decided to go bigger, others decided to go smaller, while others choose to go for radical colors, and one of the more common happenings with cases these days are themes.Today we are looking at a case that follows a theme that a lot of people have tried to replicate in case modding. We are looking at an Alien case but the company has decided to do a little more then just place a picture on the front depicting one of our green friends, instead they have gone all out with a very funky design.Read on as we have a look at this case from A-Top Technology which is something slightly different from the norm. Let's begin and find out the differences.*...Queue X-Files soundtrack now...*

Z-Alien Enclosure - Exterior

ExteriorThere is no denying that when it comes to importance of a case, the external look would be well and truly the number one, with functionality trailing behind. When you purchase a case you want something that looks great which is fair enough - after all, who wants to spend $100 or $200 on case that looks bland?First up let's have a look at the front of the case. It is clear that some people are going to like it, while others may screw their face up at it. Seen as though the front is probably the most important as it's the first thing you're going to see, it is a big basis of your decision when buying a case. There was no screwing up of the face here; it just took us a while to get used to the unique yet stylish look.
The Alien head is also a door as some may have guessed. Hidden behind it is four 5.25 bays for your CD-ROMs or whatever else you may have and also hidden away are two 3.5" bays for your floppy drives and so on. We also have our power and reset button here.
Moving away from the top half of the case we bring ourselves to the lower half. Here we have a temperature display device hidden away in the first vent and below that we have another four vents for the air to come through the case. These vents increase the circulation of cool air through the case and give your system a more stable operation. The smallest amount of air flow can often make all the difference.
We also have a little key lock on the front of the case to help prevent those pesky lanners from getting access to that power button which is all someone needs to press in a heated battle. Locks are more and more common in cases as it's a simple device that adds better security especially in the situation where you might have an original game in your CD-ROM drive.Finally on the front of the case, carefully looking to the left, we have two USB ports for easy access. Front mounted USB ports are extremely handy these days with the popularity of pen drives and other such devices.
With the front of the case out the way, let's have a look at the other sides.

Z-Alien Enclosure - Exterior Continued

Exterior ContinuedThe left side looks great with the alien head taking up most of the side panel and the mesh which provides the look of the eyes. This is one of the better windows which we've seen in a theme case - it's not a boring square or some weird shape that was possibly done by a drunken person operating a jigsaw for the initial design.Looking at the case in person, you really can't go pass the extremely cool look of the mesh making up the eyes. It's something different that we haven't really seen before and it's possible that more and more case companies could be start using this material to move away from the normal perspex.
One more thing worth mentioning about the side of this case is just how long it is - it has the length of something more like a PC70 from Lian Li but not the height which is great as it makes it that little bit easier to carry around. Even with its massive length, due to the use of aluminum material, the weight is not back-breaking, so it is quite easy to carry.
Another cool feature of this case is that you don't need screws for the side panel to sit in there. While it does come with screws and most people will choose to use them if you access the inside of your case quite frequently, you are going to find these two sliders a dream. Depending if you want to lock the case or unlock it, you simply move the sliders in the correct direction. From there you can then simply slide the case door off or have it secured to the side without the use of screws which is wonderful.Moving to the back of the case we were pleasantly surprised to find a 400 watt power supply unit. While we wouldn't place too much faith in the unit from a high-end perspective, if you're running a moderate system it should do you just fine. We wouldn't recommend five hard drives, two optical drives, GeForce 6800 Ultra and anything else that draws a lot of power.
One thing that you may notice is that the back has a fan but this isn't your ordinary 80mm fan that you find on most cases. It is a big blue 120mm fan to help extract air out as efficiently as possible. This is extremely handy for a case of this size and the 80mm fan probably wouldn't take out as much air as you would have liked.
Before we move onto the inside of the case, we will have a quick look at the top. Here we find some more ports. A lot of companies have started inserting extra ports in this area including ThermalTake and Coolermaster. If you are plugging a mouse or a joy pad into it, the cord comes down the front of the case and gets in the way of the front drive bays. We also have headphone/microphone jack and a Firewire port.
Externally the case doesn't look too bad at all and while the front might be a bit too much for some people, the side panel looks great and just about makes up for it.

Z-Alien Enclosure - Interior

InteriorMoving to the inside of the case you really see the massive length come into play. While one of the most noticeable things is the missing motherboard tray, due to huge length we shouldn't have too much of a problem installing devices into it.You can see a lot of the main features toward the bottom right of the case. We have our space for the precious hard drives, the Z-Alien can support a very comfortable four hard drives across the bottom. Not only that though, if you aren't using a floppy drive, you can squeeze in as many as another three giving support for a maximum of seven hard drives which should keep a lot of people busy downloading for a long while.
As we mentioned, a total of four 5.25" drives can be installed - DVD-ROM, DVD-Burner and two hard drive caddies, for example. The Z-Alien supports more the enough drives so you shouldn't run into any trouble when it comes to laying out your system.
As you can see, where the HDDs are housed, we have a fan at the bottom which helps push air across the drives. The fan is placed in a good position where the 80mm fan can cool all four hard drives if needed. Fortunately, the case also has air holes on the other side so you don't have to worry about it not being able to pull in cool air from anywhere. We believe HDD cooler to be critical and it's good to see the designers of this case think the same thing.
Finally before we go to the installation, we have a little box inside the case that carries the feet for the bottom, some extra covers for the front of the case and some screws so you can install your motherboard.
With the insides looked at, let's see if the length does make it easier to install considering we don't have a removable motherboard tray.

Z-Alien Enclosure - Installation

InstallationWithin the case we also get some rails which helps make the instillation of drives a lot easier. As you can see from the picture below, you get more then enough to fill up the case with hard drives and CD-ROMs and even floppy drive.
With the rails installed on the drive, you simply slide the drive straight into the space for your hard drives. Removing and installing drives can literally be completed in seconds!
When it comes to motherboard installation, we did have our doubts - personally I am a great fan of the motherboard tray and Lian Li has done wonders with it for years now. Since the Z-Alien didn't have one to speak of, we didn't expect it to go as smoothly as it did. Thanks to the length of the case, you can really get in the case with ease and move around with freedom. You don't get a true feeling and understanding for how big the case is until you start installing everything.The overall case installation isn't too bad a task and all things considered, the Z-Alien does an excellent job of making installation a breeze without the use of the motherboard. Top marks for this section.

Z-Alien Enclosure - Conclusion

Conclusion At first we thought the Z-Alien looked great then after 15 minutes of looking at the front, it kind of turned us off. After looking at it more closely as we began working with the case and trying to feel some love, we began to like the case as we grew accustomed to its unique looks.It is nice to see something a little different hit the market. We see too many cases with a different color or a different window which has become quite boring. The Z-Alien case looks different and is extremely well made, and considering the price of around $140 US ($200 AU at PC Case Gear) with a 400 watt power supply, we really cannot complain one bit despite our efforts.All the fans help push air around the case and with the 120mm fan at the back, the effectiveness of these fans is high. With its all over blue sleekness, it looks great and considering the price, it is nice to have these extra features which are normally something reserved for a more expensive casing option.In summary there is no denying that this case isn't going to be for everyone - extraterrestrials might just plain scare the death out of some enthusiasts. If you're after a big aluminum case which is different from the norm in a way we consider very positive, it's probably worth having a second or third look at the Z-Alien case from A-Top Technology.- ProsNice and roomy insideVery easy installationLight weightSide panel looks excellentCompetitive PriceGood build qualitySomething differentLooks great at night with glow effect- ConsFront might be a bit too much for someRating - 9.5 out of 10 and TweakTown's "MUST HAVE" Editor's Choice Award

Last updated: Apr 7, 2020 at 12:26 pm CDT

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Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

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