Introduction, Specifications and Pricing
Zalman is one of those names that seems to be just about as old as the PC hobby itself when it comes to aftermarket products. In our time in writing reviews, we always see them popping up from time to time with something new. In that time, we have come to realize Zalman is all about, and that is delivering products that not only do what they are intended for, but do so with an individual form and flair that is uniquely Zalman, and usually something outside of the box compared to what everyone else is doing.
While we have only seen two cases from them previous to this latest sample, looking back to them now, even here the looks and appeal is done in a way that is against the average offering, making the product easily distinguished. If we are recalling correctly, we do believe we saw this chassis a couple years back at CES, but not exactly in this finished form. While initially our view was that it was slightly brutish and has a feel of a wide bodied sports car, as we see it now, we find it to be more refined, decently laid out, and well appointed for a chassis released in today's market.
Taking the naming and some of the styling from the Z11 Plus released some time ago, this highly refined and redesigned look at the Z11 Neo we have today shows that Zalman is too trying new things to offer customers something new and exotic. What we are about to see is a mid-tower chassis, with sports car aggressiveness in its styling, a new idea on intake air supply, all inside of a very aesthetically appealing package that delivers in most aspects of chassis design that customers are looking for.
Zalman provides a chart that starts off with the classification of the Z11 Neo as a mid-tower chassis. It then offers the 205mm width, its 465mm of depth, and the 515mm of overall height. It then goes on to show the ATX and Micro-ATX motherboard compatibility, and that it uses a standard ATX power supply. At this point, we are directed to the video card clearance of 270mm with the HDD bays intact, and up to 400mm if it is removed. We also then see that the rear of the chassis offers seven expansion slots, and it comes in one color choice - black.
On the inside, we find out that there is one 5.25" bays that are available in the bezel via a drop away door that slides up to cover the device in the bay. Technically, there are three 5.25" bays, but the lower pair do not go through the bezel and offer 2.5" bay adapters. As to 3.5" drive storage, there is a pair of cages, stacked on top of each other than can hold up to six in total, and either or both cages can be removed. We covers the pair of 2.5" drive locations, but there is yet another stamped into the motherboard tray, just below the cooler access hole.
The cooling offered in this chassis is more than we typically see in cases today. The front of the chassis can hold a pair of 120mm fans, but as shipped, there is one blue LED lit clear fan installed. The top of the chassis also offers two 120mm fan locations, but the rear one here also offers a blue LED lit clear fan. The back of the chassis holds the last of the three installed fans, and here there is a 120mm fan, but it is not LED lit this time. The floor of the chassis, just in front of the PSU, also offers the last typical 120mm fan location. Also, with the use of a ducting system in this design, we also find one 80mm fan in the front lower corner of each side panel to actively force more air into the chassis.
The do tell us that the front I/O panel offers HD Audio jacks, a pair of USB 3.0, and a pair of USB 2.0 connections, but there is no mention of the materials. This chassis has a frame, duct work, and side panels made of steel that are painted inside and out with black textured paint. Zalman uses ABS plastic for the top of the chassis, and mixes things up with a heavily textured surrounding, a shiny plastic cubby, and translucent fins. The front of the chassis is also made of plastic, but offers a brushed metal look and a sleek style that many should appreciate.
Looking around for the Z11 Neo, we find it to be pretty widely available, so that is a good start. Pricing ranges a fair bit depending on where you look though. We see pricing as high as near $110, but from more reputable locations, pricing does decrease. We found the Z11 Neo at Amazon for $77 at the time of writing, which is a solid price for what you get. At this point, we should get up close and friendly with the Z11 Neo and see if Zalman has your next chassis to buy.
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