Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
Zalman, a company better known for impressive GPU coolers in the past, as well as a unique style of CPU coolers, yet at the same time, Zalman is trying to compete in the chassis game these days. We have seen only a select few cases thus far from Zalman, and most of what we did see was geared at younger buyers, but as time went by, the cases started to develop and mature, bringing forth designs with more features and modularity. We realize how hard it is even to get into this market and have any success at all, but with what we have seen from Zalman thus far, they are apparently watching market trends and are trying to incorporate new ideas into the latest designs that are released.
As to mid-tower cases more specifically, there are huge players in this game already - Corsair, NZXT, and Cooler Master just to name a few - who have had massive success in this field. The reason for their success is that they hit the market at the right time with new and innovative ideas, delivering feature-rich cases to the masses for a minimal investment. While the bar is already set pretty high long before Zalman made this latest chassis, from what we have seen of this chassis, this is a significant step towards making a big name for themselves in the chassis game, much like we all remember them being in the cooler game. Even if this chassis we are about to display isn't exactly what you are looking for at this time, give Zalman a chance, as they are taking strides in the right direction to deliver the best in chassis features, and at the same time, doing it at very competitive pricing.
While we have seen a couple of the "Z" cases from Zalman in the past, the Z9 NEO mid-tower chassis we have today shares very little with those designs. The exterior of this chassis is more subdued and is on par with some of the larger players in the game as far as the aesthetic appeal is concerned. The inside has been completely retooled to deliver a newly styled motherboard tray, as well as the drive bay systems and where they are located. The Z9 NEO also comes with an option for a white or black exterior, but both versions sport blue LED fans and accents which are impressive, particularly in this price range. So with a lot to cover, we may as well jump[ right in and see what this Zalman Z9 NEO has in store for us.
In the chart found on the Zalman website, we are first told that either color version is built as an ATX mid-tower chassis, capable of housing an ATX, Micro-ATX, or Mini-ITX motherboard. This steel and ABS plastic chassis stands 490mm tall, it is 205mm in width, and is 482mm deep, with no mention of the weight. We did catch it on the packaging, though, and it shows there that this is 5.9 kg empty. Inside of the chassis, there is room for up to 420mm of a video card, and with seven slots in the back, there is plenty of room for multi-card setups and soundcards.
The lower half starts off with the drive bays. Here we are shown that there are two 5.25" bays on the front of the chassis, but are hidden by a full-sized front door. On the inside, there are locations for up to four 3.5" storage drives, and in combination with those places, as well as two on the motherboard tray, up to six 2.5" drives can be installed. Moving into the cooling, we see that the front of the chassis is shipped with a pair of 120mm fans to introduce airflow into the chassis. There is also a 120mm fan at the back, as well as two more in the top of the chassis, but only the top two have LEDs. As for the front I/O panel, there is a power button, reset button, HD Audio jacks, and two USB 2.0 and two USB 3.0 ports. To go along with the LED fans, the power button as well as the USB ports all offer thin rings of blue LED backlit plastic so that you may find them easily in the dark.
Pricing is pretty standard across the board, no matter where you choose to buy the Z9 NEO. One thing to note about pricing is that color does have an effect on what that price is, however. If you want black panels and black accent trim, we see that it will cost you $69.99 for that version. If you want the white panels with black accents, like the one we were sent, there is an additional $10 required. Still, though, where it usually takes near $100 do get a mid-tower chassis with a full set of features, while at the same time not looking like a Transformer, Zalman is putting their best foot forward. Based on the specifications given, you may not yet be sold on this chassis, but as you see everything that Zalman packed into this mid-tower chassis, the realization of its value should become apparent.
Chad's Chassis Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-Z68X-UD4-B3
- CPU: Intel Core i7 2600K (buy from Amazon)
- Cooler: Corsair H80i GT (buy from Amazon)
- Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws F3-12800CL6D-4GBXH
- Video Card: ZOTAC GeForce GTX 970 AMP. Extreme Edition (buy from Amazon)
- Storage: SuperSpeed 128GB SSD
- Power Supply: SilverStone SST-ST85F-G (buy from Amazon)
- OS: Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit (buy from Amazon)
PRICING: You can find the Zalman Z9 NEO Mid-Tower Chassis for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing, but can change at any time. Click the link below to see real-time pricing for the best deal:
United States: The Zalman Z9 NEO Mid-Tower Chassis retails for $68 at Amazon.
United Kingdom: The Zalman Z9 NEO Mid-Tower Chassis retails for £56 at Amazon UK.