The Exterior of the Zalman Z9 Neo

The Zalman Z9 Neo sports a modern design, with the company trying to balance it between elegance and aggression. Measuring 49 cm tall, 20.5 cm wide and 48.2 cm deep (19.3 × 8.1 × 19 in), resulting to a volume of 48.4 liters, the size Zalman Z9 Neo is relatively small for a midi ATX tower case. It significantly smaller than cases designed for high thermal performance, such as the Riotoro CR1280 (28.1% larger) and the Cooler Master MasterCase 5 (36.2% larger). It is about the same size as the Corsair 400Q (12.4% smaller), which lacks any external drive bays. We received the white version of the Z9 Neo, which still has a black frame surrounding the faceplate and interior.

11.2 oz (330 ml) can inserted as size reference

The faceplate door opens from left to right, revealing a black plastic fascia with two 5.25” drive slots. Zalman installed a thin layer of sound absorbing material to the inside of the door.

In order to reach the front panel intake filter, the entire front panel needs to be removed. This is an easy task, as the panel can be simply pulled off in an instant. However, the front intake filter is nothing more than a nylon mesh and cannot be removed. It will have no effect on smaller dust particles and the only way to effectively clean it, without bending its metallic holders, is to use a vacuum cleaner directly on the case.

The front I/O ports and buttons are at the top side of the front panel, on the black plastic frame that surrounds it. Starting from left to right, we can see a large power button with a LED ring, a small round reset switch, two 3.5mm headphone jacks, two USB 2.0 ports and two USB 3.0 ports. Simple rubber inserts have been installed into the USB ports, to prevent dust from accumulating. Having to remove them each time a USB device is going to connect can become annoying for some users, plus these inserts are so small that they are almost begging to get lost.

A look at the rear of the Zalman Z9 Neo reveals that the PSU compartment is located at the bottom, a common design nowadays. We can also see the 120 mm rear exhaust fan and notice that it cannot be replaced by a 140 mm fan, which was also hinted by the specifications of the case, as it is too narrow. There are no holes for cables or liquid cooling hoses.

The top panel of the Zalman Z9 Neo is made of plastic, not metal. It has vents on the sides and on the top. What looks like a cover above the two top exhaust fans cannot be removed, with the exception of its semi-transparent smoked acrylic surround. Zalman claims that removing this surround can improve the thermal performance of the case, but we can assess that its removal will have a marginal impact on the airflow impedance of the fans.

The Zalman Z9 Neo stands on four plastic feet with rubber anti-slip pads installed. The feet are particularly tall for a case that has limited underside ventilation (only for the PSU). A nylon filter can be seen covering the PSU intake, which can be removed from the back of the case.

Introduction, Packaging & Bundle The Interior of the Zalman Z9 Neo
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  • HollyDOL - Friday, May 20, 2016 - link

    Oh, my tomcat would definitely love this case... especially those little USB inserts. I'd give it about half hour tops before being discovered and ... privatized :-) Reply
  • HollyDOL - Friday, May 20, 2016 - link

    Not to sound ironic, it seems like a good case, esp. related to the cost. Reply
  • Flunk - Friday, May 20, 2016 - link

    What does that have to do with it not being cat-proof?

    I think you'd be ok if you removed the transparent section on the top and didn't use the port covers. The other parts are a bit big for a cat to make off with. Although I say that, my cat has stolen my razer and hidden it before.
    Reply
  • Haravikk - Tuesday, May 24, 2016 - link

    Get rid of the cat; problem solved.

    No really, pet-related problems are the fault of having a pet, not products being designed around pets. Cat hair is one of the worst things for computers in general, so get rid of the cat and you not only save a ton of money, but solve that problem completely.
    Reply
  • JoeyJoJo123 - Wednesday, May 25, 2016 - link

    How about you get rid of that disgusting attitude you have towards other animal species?

    I have 4 adopted cats I take care of, not because I went to an adoption center, but because of crappy people like you who leave them abandoned on the street, with no home, no shelter, and no food. Just like me or you, cats didn't ask to be born. They just do their best to live another day. I was gracious enough to accept not one, not two, not three, but four abandoned pets from my neighborhood and gave them a loving home.

    Also, cat hair isn't an issue. Regular vacuuming and A/C filter replacements takes care of that issue. It's a matter of PEBCAK. In other words, you're too lazy to vacuum (whereas you should regardless of whether you have pets or not) and you're too lazy to replace A/C filters throughout your home on a regular basis.
    Reply
  • flyingpants265 - Tuesday, April 2, 2019 - link

    Whoa, not often you see someone that delusional. Reply
  • MadAd - Friday, May 20, 2016 - link

    I'm constantly amazed how much full size ATX is still used. Reply
  • Kepe - Friday, May 20, 2016 - link

    Why? mATX and mITX motherboards support 0 expandability. For example, I have a fast PCIe SSD and a PCIe sound card. And of course a PCIe GPU, and room for even more stuff. Also, I have support for SLI and CrossFire. You couldn't have those on a smaller motherboard. mATX has its place in the market, for people who want to build as small a PC as possible, or for those who want a living room media PC. Reply
  • Black Obsidian - Friday, May 20, 2016 - link

    All of your points are true, but also irrelevant for (I would guess) north of 90% of all users, who need 0 expandability. SLI is relatively rare, PCIe sound cards rarer still. And yet full ATX remains the most common form factor.

    IMO, it's motherboard selection that's holding people back more than cases. I have one CPU, one high-end GPU, one PCIe M.2 SSD, and no expectation of ever needing any additional PCIe slots... and yet I have a full-ATX motherboard, because Asus didn't offer any mATX motherboards with the features I wanted.
    Reply
  • just4U - Monday, May 23, 2016 - link

    I'd say it's not Motherboard selection.. We have had some variety for awhile now.. What's lacking is casing... casing.. casing. Can't stress that enough.

    I'd kill for a good ole lian-li type PC-60 without all the 5.25 drive bays /w a wider chassis to accommodate 120MM fans.. and cable management.. provided it had the old school removable MB Tray..

    Can think of about 50 other cases out there that would be great sellers to if these case makers would just shrink them down for the Mitx market..It's not rocket science to know what works and what doesn't.
    Reply

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