Large and expensive computer cases are not for everyone. Actually, their market share is very limited, as many users seek the most cost-effective and practical hardware. Today we are having a look at Zalman’s latest case design, the Z9 Neo. The Z9 Neo is a case designed to provide high performance and versatility while preserving a very enticing price tag.

Introduction

Zalman is a well-known name in computing enthusiast's cycles, having provided advanced cooling solutions from 1999. During the last half decade, the company was diversifying into other segments of the consumer PC market, such as cases and power supplies, but the progress of the company slowed down after Moneaul's scandal in 2014. Zalman legally severed their ties with Moneaul and, despite that setback, is moving on as an independent company since then, releasing new products and diversifying into other segments of the PC market.

It took several months for Zalman to recover and start introducing new products, but it does look like the company is ready to established a firm foothold into the market once again: Zalman has introduced a number of new cases, coolers and gaming peripherals during the past several months. In this review we are having a close look on the Z9 Neo, one of their most popular recent case designs. On paper, the specifications of the Z9 Neo seem very impressive, especially for the case with a price tag lower than $80.

 

Zalman Z9 Neo
Motherboard Size ATX, Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX
Drive Bays External 2 × 5.25"
Internal 2 × 3.5"/2.5" (Drive's cage)
2 × 2.5" (Directly on the motherboard tray)
2 × 3.5"/2.5" (Into unoccupied 5.25" bays)
Cooling Front 2 × 120 mm or 2 x 140 mm (2 × 120 mm included)
Rear 1 × 120 mm (included)
Top 2 × 120 mm (2 × 120 mm Blue LED fans included)
HDD -
Bottom -
Radiator Support Front Up to 240 mm or 280 mm
Rear Up to 120 mm
Top Up to 240 mm
Side -
Bottom -
I/O Port 2× USB 3.0, 2× USB 2.0, 1× Headphone, 1× Mic
Power Supply Size ATX
Clearances HSF 160 mm
PSU 180 mm
GPU 420 mm
Dimensions 490 mm × 205 mm × 482 mm
19.29 in × 8.07 in × 18.98 in
Prominent Features · Optimized air flow cooling structure
· Exclusive cooling for Power Supply
· View through side smokey acrylic
· Black cover sash
· USB 3.0 Support & Convenient interface
· Dust filter installed
· Soundproof pad applied
· Separable upper panel
· Excellent expandability and wide space
· Velcro & rubber type hole
· Tool free HDD installation
Price $73.40

Packaging & Bundle

We received the Z9 Neo into a simple but sturdy brown cardboard box. The artwork is monochromic and based on a rough schematic of the case, with its basic specifications printed on the sides of the box. Although it is not much to gaze upon, the sturdy box and thick Styrofoam slabs provide adequate protection during shipping.

Zalman is trying to keep their products cost effective, so the very basic bundle was not a surprise for us. Only the basic mounting hardware, a few cable ties and a simple manual are being supplied alongside with the Z9 Neo. 

The Exterior of the Zalman Z9 Neo
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  • ShieTar - Monday, May 23, 2016 - link

    Honestly, once you decide you want 2x2.5" bays and 2x120 mm fans in the front, you do have the space to put a full size ATX behind it anyways.

    I would expect more than 50% of the standard users to actually fit a mATX board into such a case (cause they are cheaper then the full size boards).
    Reply
  • strangeone - Friday, May 20, 2016 - link

    Well, I'm a happy owner of this case.

    Looks great, but there are some real disadvantages.
    1. 5.25'" slots seem really odd today. Yes, you can put one 3.5" or even two 2.5" drives on holder shelf, but it looks really terrible. The only cases I can remember without 5.25" slots for today is NZXT. There are also good solutions for 3x5.25" slot cases - you can easy find rack mount (at a very small cost) which allow you to have 5x3.25" drives (90 degrees rotated) on the same space.
    2. Screw-free holders for HDD are terrible. They don't hold tight in slots providing small but HDD-killing vibrations.
    3. Power supply & HDD case in lower part which isolates these parts from other case volume (yes, this is good for cooling - you can pull down front fan and it will blow right through this case) consumes a lot of space.
    4. Upper side-located HDD mounting place is located very close to GPU. I installed MSI GTX 980 Gaming card (279 mm) and it is located deadly close.

    It seems that Zalman tried to save owner's money in too many ways. Still, good cooling and good look.
    P.S. Sorry for my english.
    Reply
  • mr_tawan - Friday, May 20, 2016 - link

    Personally I use BD once in a good while. I'd get the case with 5.25 so I don't have to put the drive in some kind of casing. It's not very popular nowaday so I understand your point.

    Anyway if I do gaming system without optical drive, I'd put fan controller there instead.
    Reply
  • LordanSS - Sunday, May 22, 2016 - link

    I understand what you're talking about, but there are many uses for the 5.25" trays. I am an owner of a Corsair 900D and make plenty of use of them.

    - BluRay burner for M-Discs definitive storage. Very good for storing my photos, videos and other things, and not have to worry (too much) about them "going bad".

    - Fan controller. In addition to the 4 fans that come with the case, mine has an addition of 6 low noise fans for (absolute) positive pressure, and the controller has 3 thermal diodes so I can see temps on the GPU/CPU area, HDD area and overall intake air temp.

    - One hot-swap tray for 3.5" HDDs, mostly for convenience. The 900D already comes with a hot swap HDD cage, but with this I don't need to open up the panels, and can use the couple HDDs I have for "on the go" usage. Might be bulkier, but cheaper than 2.5" USB ones and with more storage.
    Reply
  • BrokenCrayons - Friday, May 20, 2016 - link

    Good review, thanks! It's nice to see something other than an all black case or a black and red one and the price is pretty reasonable. I think it makes up for shortcomings like a non-removable filter on the front.

    As always, the Coca-Cola can size comparison makes me smile a little.
    Reply
  • qlum - Friday, May 20, 2016 - link

    As someone who uses the cheapest zalman cases quite regularly at work I do recognize their flwas but overall they always seem to be a decent choice for simple pc's that just need to work. Reply
  • Axiomatic - Friday, May 20, 2016 - link

    Whats up with rainbow side window? Did that side window plastic not cure completely? Looks awful in my opinion Zalman. I am hoping that is an artifact of the camera lens and the side window really is not iridescent. Reply
  • TheUsual - Friday, May 20, 2016 - link

    Please post the weight in your case reviews. Reply
  • basiliadufrene - Sunday, May 22, 2016 - link

    Valuable article - I was fascinated by the information - Does anyone know if my business would be able to locate a sample Residential Real Estate Lease example to use ? Reply
  • paulpdx - Sunday, May 29, 2016 - link

    I think the RAM sticks are installed incorrectly in the interior photo. I wanted to point this out because readers may use the photos as guidance for their build. Should be A1/B1, not A1/A2. Reply

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