The Zalman Z9 Neo Case Reviewby E. Fylladitakis on May 20, 2016 9:00 AM EST
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.