Rosewill Viper Z Mid-Tower ATX Case Review
Rosewill, which is owned by online computer parts reseller Newegg, was established in 2004 as a manufacturer of computer components such as power supply units, cases and cables. Rosewill boasts that they currently manufacture over 1,400 different products in various categories. One perceived issue by enthusiasts is that due to the wide scope of their product offerings, Rosewill doesn't have focus on just enthusiast products and isn't catering to or relying purely on support from the enthusiast community. While Rosewill products are not typically a first choice among enthusiasts, the company has been making pushes towards the enthusiast market by producing relevant products, such as their RK-9000V2 keyboard, which offers Cherry MX switches, in addition to sponsoring various e-sports competitions.
I haven't had any personal experience with Rosewill products to draw from, so I am looking forward to reviewing the Viper Z, a modern styled mid-tower ATX case with a pretty extensive feature set for $51.99 shipped
after rebate and a promotional discount. The ATX case market is extremely competitive right now, so Rosewill will have to truly make an impression with their Viper Z for it to be considered a viable contender. With Rosewill tagging the Viper Z as a "ferocious warfare machine" and then including a windowed side panel and blue LED fans, this is obviously a case targeted towards PC gaming enthusiasts. Let's take a look at the specifications for the Viper Z and see if there's anything of note.
|Rosewill Viper Z Mid-Tower ATX Case Specifications
||SECC (Steel) & Plastic
||8 + 1
||3x 5.25", 7x 3.5/2.5", 1x 2.5" (One external 5.25" has a 3.5" cut out and there is a dedicated HDD/SSD install cage here)
||Mini-ITX, Micro-ATX, ATX
|DIMENSIONS (W x H x D):
||20.91" x 8.14" x 20.67" (bezel included)
||One Standard Model Available Currently, VIPER Z
||Supports 120mm x 2 (Ships w/2x 120mm Rosewill Blue LED Fans)
||Supports 120mm x 1 (Ships with 120mm Rosewill OEM Fan)
||Supports 140mm/120mm x 2 (Ships with 140mm Rosewill Blue LED Fan) 240MM Radiator Supported
||Supports 140mm x 1
||N/A, windowed side panel without fan provisions
||2x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0, 1x Fan Speed Controller, 1x Card Reader, 1x Headphone, 1x Microphone
||CPU Cooler: Exact Specification Not Listed
GPU: 423 mm without HDD cage
PSU: Exact Specification Not Listed
I was unable to find some key information when going over the specification sheet for the Viper Z, such as the maximum supported CPU cooler height and the maximum PSU length supported. I researched further and found that using extended PSU's and taller CPU coolers such as the Noctua NH-D15
are supported, but I feel that this information should be readily available, as it can affect buying decisions and most case manufacturers provide this information in their specifications. Unlike most Mid-Tower ATX cases which offer just seven, the Viper Z offers eight PCI-E expansion slots, with a supplemental slot that sits above the other slots also available. Overall, the specified component support offered by the Viper Z is more than adequate for a Mid-Tower ATX case and I definitely liked seeing that an integrated card reader and fan controller are included, as these are typically premium options seen on more expensive cases.
Rosewill currently offers one model of the Viper Z. The Viper Z is currently available at Newegg for $51.99 shipped
, putting it in very competitive territory. Since Newegg is the primary distributor and reseller of Rosewill components, I'd expect to consistently find the best price on the case here, though it won't hurt to check other marketplaces before your purchase to find the best possible deal.
Rosewill's packaging for the Viper Z is basic and doesn't offer any information beyond the weight specifications and model information, which is fine given that this case will mostly end up being purchased from online resellers and not in a brick and mortar environment. There is a line drawn graphic of the case front side profile and another smaller drawing illustrating the top fan area. The box arrived to us unscathed from Rosewill's City of Industry, California location after being shipped there from their New Jersey warehouse.
Opening the box reveals the case packed in a plastic bag and sandwiched between white Styrofoam inserts. This is very typical case packaging and proved more than adequate, as our case arrived to us unscathed.
The accessory bundle included with the Viper Z is barely adequate and a bit sparse. There are five zip ties, which is adequate, though more are always appreciated. The screws are all packaged in one bag, which is a practice I simply don't approve of. For experienced builders, including all of the screws in one bag isn't an issue, but for a first timer it would prove extremely helpful to have individually labeled bags. The manual included with the Viper Z is basic and has information on how to remove the panels to install fans and other installation guides.
Rosewill included a case speaker with the Viper Z. A lot of motherboards don't even include a provision to attach this speaker anymore, but it certainly is a welcome addition. I'm reminded of my old 286 and 386 systems that played all of their sound through the speaker integrated into the case.
The Rosewill Viper Z carries a one year warranty against defects in workmanship. In case you're wondering, case warranties typically get applied towards faulty IO panels or ports and can come in very handy should you have a USB port fail, or if the integrated card reader should stop working. A one year warranty is pretty weak, considering most case manufacturers offer multi-year warranties on cases. Also, based on my experience, cases end up being an item that doesn't end up getting shipped back for warranty support, so case manufacturers can typically afford 3-Year warranties, since they'll just be replacing small, modular parts, if anything. I haven't had any experience with Rosewill support to draw from, so I can't comment on how their service works or how warranty repairs or part requests are handled. If anybody has experience with Rosewill support, please let us know in the comments.
Rosewill Viper Z Mid-Tower ATX Case External Features
The Viper Z features rounded edges and a lot of mesh, with large plastic panels attached to its SECC frame. The Viper Z exterior design is very similar to that of the Cooler Master 690 series, which isn't a bad thing, at all. The black paint is applied well, though the difference in color between the plastic and metal panels can be noticed. The Viper Z is void of any Rosewill logos or badges on the exterior, which will appeal to enthusiasts looking to do a clean build. The Viper Z also has blue lighting effects provided by the two intake fans and top exhaust fan that are installed from the factory. These fans sit under mesh, which should really give the LED lighting a nice effect. The rear exhaust fan is standard and doesn't feature LED lighting.
The window on the left side panel is covered with a film on both sides to protect during shipping and takes up a good portion of the panel, which unfortunately causes the panel to flex a bit and lose rigidity. Not that ours had any issues, but it does cause long term concerns over the panel possibly not staying true to form and fitting perfectly. As shipped, the panels on the Viper Z all fit well and lined up perfectly with the case frame. The right side panel is rigid, well built and is straight across, with no indents to assist with cable management.
The front panel features a tight mesh that flows across the fascia all the way to the top of the case. This type of mesh will lend itself a small amount to airflow, though not as well as the more open type of mesh included on cases like the MasterCase 5. There is also see a small gap between the front panel and sides of the case where unfiltered air can be drawn into the case. This gap was likely by design to improve airflow, but the lack of filtration here isn't optimal for users who want to minimize potential dust build up in their system. You can't just remove the mesh from the filter to dust from it, the whole panel must be removed. This makes cleaning the front fan intake area a bit of a chore and far from intuitive. Rosewill could have made the mesh a separate, removable piece that could be taken off and washed for convenience, as we've seen on so many other cases.
The lowest of the three 5.25" bays has a cutout in the cover to support 3.5" devices, such as card readers or *gasp* floppy drives. With many companies omitting optical drive bays altogether on their cases these days, it's interesting to see Rosewill supporting 3.5" drives here. Rosewill suggests removing the front panel in order to remove the drive bay covers and install drives in the 5.25" bays.
The top panel features the same mesh as the front, which flows very nicely up to the IO panel and then continues to the rear of the case, offering ventilation for the top fans. The top panel is completely flat, except for where it meets the front panel and there is a slight curve. The design flows very well and I like the clean, uniform look of the mesh coupled with the metal panels and plastic parts. The area between the front of the case and the IO panel on the top of the case could have been indented slightly to be used as a storage area for USB devices and such, as we've seen on other cases.
The Viper Z has a very feature-rich IO panel that is more extensive than the ones I've seen on more expensive enthusiast cases. A pair of USB 3.0 ports and USB 2.0 ports in addition to audio jacks are typical and expected, but the Viper Z also has an SD Card/MicroSD card reader that connects to your motherboard via an internal USB header, in addition to a fan controller that is capable of controlling three fans. The fan controller is capable of running fans at three different speeds, High, Low or Silent, selected by switch. A bit confusing is that the stock setting is Silent and will render the fans inoperable. This may throw some builders off if they aren't aware of the fan controller setting. The buttons are all firm and the switch for the fan controller feels well-built and solid. The power button does illuminate in blue, matching the color scheme of the case LED's.
The mesh on the top panel also acts as a filter for dust falling into the top of the case and can easily be removed for cleaning, or to add top panel fans or a radiator, with a simple push to release the clips. This is a really good mechanism that is easy to use and the clips are solid and well built. This mesh panel is well made and didn't give us any concerns over its long term durability or losing shape after multiple removals and installations.
The rear of the Viper Z is a pretty standard affair, though there is a PCI-E expansion area that sits near the right side panel. This can be used for expansion card installation, or to install an accessory device like an LCD power switch or fan control device. Proper cutouts for watercooling are included above the exhaust fan location, should users decide they want to use external watercooling with the Viper Z. The exhaust fan grill is pushed out just slightly from the case to help with finger protection and reduce air turbulence and noise. Unfortunately, the rear location is limited to 120mm fans, which is a letdown, as 140mm units can typically move more air with less noise signature.
The Rosewill Viper Z offers more PCI-E expansion than your typical mid-tower ATX case, which usually offer seven PCI-E expansion slots, by providing eight standard PCI-E expansion slots, in addition to a supplemental expansion slot area where the GPU exhaust holes would normally be stamped. I am not sure that many people will find the supplemental PCI-E expansion area useful and think that this area should have been used to provide GPU ventilation holes, instead. Having said that, it's refreshing to see a mid-tower ATX case offer eight PCI-E expansion slots for the motherboard, as it will give better spacing and flexibility for expansion card installations.
The installed case feet let the Viper Z sit pretty tall, but they actually only extend to meet with the front fascia plastic, which extends quite a bit down past the actual frame of the case. At about 2" of clearance, I do feel like the bottom of the Viper Z sits a bit high above the surface its installed on and there isn't a reason for there to be so much clearance, but it's not going to hurt anything. Even if you installed the Viper Z on the shag carpet in your parents 1970's loft, there'd still be plenty of clearance for air intake underneath, with the Viper Z providing more under-chassis clearance than any other mid-tower case I've reviewed to date.
The PSU filter and intake filter for the fans on the bottom of the Viper Z are not easily removable, as they tab into the case. Removing them requires lifting the case up to access the underside and it's a pain. While it's better than having no filters, Rosewill would have been far better off implementing a filter that is easily removable from the rear of the case. Also, the open nature of these types of filters mean they won't do a great job of filtering smaller dust particles, though airflow should be optimal.
The Rosewill Viper Z has a pretty stylish, solid exterior that I feel is reminiscent of the Cooler Master 690 series, which isn't a bad thing at all. The design of the case flows very well, though Rosewill could definitely cut back on their use of plastic, as the front and top panels were huge. There are some concerns about airflow and the lack of easily removable filters for the PSU and front intake area, but overall, the external features and style of the Viper Z are very appealing.
Rosewill Viper Z Mid-Tower ATX Case Internal Features
Accessing the internals of the Rosewill Viper Z is simple. The side panels are held on by thumbscrews and once loosened, the panel slides back within the case frame and then slides off. This is a typical door mounting mechanism and not one I am fond of, though it works and is a mechanism everybody who has built systems is familiar with. Other manufacturers have been using hinges and other mechanisms to make door installation and removal easier, so the use of these standard mounts is a bit of a let down, though there weren't any issues and Rosewill's panels are well made and fit on the case without issue.
The interior of the Viper Z is pretty modern, with rubber grommets, removable drive cages and black header cables present. Rosewill has taken the liberty of installing motherboard standoffs for an ATX board, which is something I really appreciate and wish that other manufacturers would do, since it's safe to assume most users who pick up a mid-tower case are going to be using full sized ATX boards. There is a large CPU cutout on the rear of the motherboard tray to assist with aftermarket cooler installation.
The header cables are all black, with the exception of the audio header, which has both AC'97 and HD Audio headers, creating a glorious rainbow of cables. Black cable headers make for a much cleaner looking build than multicolored cables.
Along the lower right edge of the motherboard tray, there is a fan hub that is powered by a 4-pin Molex and can control up to six fans. This hub isn't able to be speed controlled and since the IO panel does have a three fan hub, most users will likely run the rest of their fans from the motherboard and use built in speed controls. Pictured are the fan headers for the top panel fan controller. The top panel fan controller requires a 4-Pin Molex for operation, to power the controller itself. An accessory of interest is the PSU strap, which helps hold PSU's in place.
The rubber grommets for cable management are high quality and sit in the case properly. They are secured well in their position and don't fall out while working with them, which is an issue I've seen with some cases in the past.
The PCI-E slot covers are held in by black metal thumbscrews and there are eight total slots, which is one more than your standard mid-tower would provide. Rosewill is using individual slot covers that can be put back on later should you decide to change your PCI-E card configuration, rather than using cheap stamped metal covers..
The 120mm fan installed on the rear of the Viper Z runs of a three pin connector and is a standard fan. This area can also be used to install a 120mm AIO cooler. Unfortunately, there is no provision for a 140mm fan to be installed.
Optical drive bays do not feature a tool-free attachment mechanism, which isn't a huge problem, though it would be nice to see a tool-free mechanism on the case as an added value. Due to how far the front panel extends, only two screws can be installed to secure your optical drives, but this shouldn't be an issue. The bottom 5.25" bay is populated with a 3.5" adapter that can be used with storage drives, or with external devices, such as card readers, as the optical drive bay cover has a cut out to support 3.5" devices.
The hard drive cages in the Viper Z are secured on a rail that is riveted to the case frame by thumbscrews that are easily removable. The caddies in these cages support 2.5" and 3.5" drives and there are six caddies included. There looks to be room at the bottom for an additional caddie, but Rosewill didn't include a provision for this, likely due to clearance issues with the bottom of the case.
Removing the drive cages allows us to see that the front of the Viper Z isn't restrictive and features a nice, open design that promotes optimal air intake to the fans. The included fans can be routed to the fan speed controller connected to the IO panel, or you can run them to the fan hub that is installed in the main component chamber. There is definitely room for a front mounted 240mm radiator on the inside of the Viper Z, with the fans running as intake on the outside, though you'd have to run the hoses along the bottom. With the front cages removed, there is sill support for two 3.5" drives in the main chamber and a 2.5" SSD on the rear motherboard tray.
While airflow is optimal in the Viper Z, with a wide open, front design that can intake plenty of air, there is a lack of filtration that will cause internal dust build up. The gap in the front fascia will allow dust and other particles to be drawn into the case, as there is no filtration between this gap and the fans.
The blue LED fan installed in the top of the case sit above the main chamber in a fan frame. There is plenty of room here to add a radiator inside of the main chamber, with fans installed above the radiator.
The PSU area has four raised areas with rubber pads to help reduce vibration. These are very small pads, but should be adequate and better than just running the power supply on top of bare metal support. There isn't a lot of clearance provided by these metal supports, so PSU's with large fan grills that protrude may have some issues.
The rear of the motherboard tray has cable tie down points running alongside the grommets to assist with cable management. The layout is standard and lets you route cables from the drive area to the drives through rubber grommets in the tray. There is about a half inch of space behind the tray for cable routing, which is adequate, but barely. A power supply with flat modular cables is definitely going to help, but given the ample room and wiring space, wiring pretty much any PSU in the Viper Z shouldn't be an issue.
Rosewill has taken the time to pre-route the cables pretty neatly and has even moved the fan headers to the main chamber. It's a pretty good cable job from the factory that will put first time builders on the proper path.
There is a dedicated SSD installation point on the Rosewill Viper Z. We're seeing this more and more and like this as an installation point, as it can allow users with a single SSD + single HDD installed in the optical drive mount to eliminate the drive cages completely for optimal airflow, or to install a radiator up front.
The Viper Z has user-friendly internals, with adequate cable management features and solid build quality. The Viper Z has a very competent fan control system, offering not only a three fan hub with speed control, but an additional hub for running six more fans. The modular drive cages are done well and the ability to remove two of the cages to increase airflow or run a radiator up front is a well thought out feature. The inside of the Viper Z is spacious and should be more than capable of housing a mid-range enthusiast system with dual GPU's. The lack of tool free optical drive bays and a non-modular optical drive area are shortcomings, but far from deal breakers.
Rosewill Viper Z Mid-Tower ATX Case Build
||MSI H97 PC Mate
||Thermaltake Frio Silent 14
||1x 2.5" OCZ Vertex 480A 240GB, 2x 500GB 3.5" Seagate, 1x Plextor DVD-RW
Installation into the Rosewill Viper Z was very simple. I started by installing a Corsair RM650 power supply unit, which screws into the rear of the case. Installation of the PSU went smoothly and it was actually satisfying strapping it into the case.
This is the strap that holds the power supply into the case. I don't think this strap will come in handy, except in extremely rare circumstances, but it's not in the way or causing any inconvenience. Strapping the PSU down within the case is actually a refreshing experience, as you know your PSU is extra secure.
Thanks to Rosewill installing the standoffs for the motherboard, I didn't have to do anything to prep the system for the motherboard besides install the IO shield, which snapped into place without issue. There was plenty of clearance for the Thermaltake Frio 14 heatsink to be installed. Taller units like the Noctua NH-D15 shouldn't have any issues installing in the Viper Z.
Thanks to the well thought out cable cutouts and routing paths, I was able to route the USB and audio headers to the board in a very clean manner. Front panel headers were also very cleanly labeled and laid out, with a nice slit beneath the board present to optimize cable management of these headers.
The rear of the case cleans up pretty well, despite there only being a couple of zip ties included to aid with cable management. I had no problem closing the side panel. Thanks to the ample cable ties and rubber grommets for cable management, the Viper Z was an absolute pleasure to work with and building the system was a very simple affair.
Here, we can see an unfortunate situation presented by the Viper Z. The side panel closes very close to where cables insert into SSD drives and the side panel can push against the power and SATA cable, possibly. This is an oversight and something end users will need to be aware of in order to avoid possible damage to their drive. We didn't note any issues with our configuration, but users without flat cables should definitely be weary.
Besides our issue with the way SSD's sit too far back in the caddies, I didn't have any problems with building into the Rosewill Viper Z. The cable management in the case is well thought out and there is adequate cable tie down points on the rear motherboard tray. The Viper Z would be a great case for a first time builder, as it offers a straightforward, spacious internal design with minimal frills, along with solid build quality. I was able to build the test system into the Viper Z and do adequate cable management within an hours span.
Rosewill Viper Z Mid-Tower ATX Case Conclusion
Today we've looked at a case from a company that many simply don't think of when it comes to enthusiast chassis and have come away very impressed. Rosewill has made the Viper Z a viable option for gamers and enthusiasts looking for a fully featured case that offers well thought out cable management features, versatile hardware installation capability and great looks, to boot. I really liked the integrated card reader and fan controller provisions, both of which were done well and integrate nicely into the chassis. The fans included with the Viper Z are quiet while offering decent airflow, which was a surprise to us. Initially looking at the case features and pricing, I assumed the blue LED fans in the Viper Z would be loud, not move much air and have me wanting to swap them immediately, but that was far from the case, no pun intended.
Quality components are in use throughout the Viper Z. The case itself is well-made, with the frame being solid, albeit somewhat flexible and the side panels are rigid. The soft black paint on the panels looks great and is matched well across the plastic and steel. The internals of the case follow suit, with quality rubber grommets, drive mounting cages and all-black header cables being used. For the price it is being sold at, the Rosewill Viper Z offers build quality that is on par with some of the more expensive cases we have worked with, which is an impressive feat.
Things aren't perfect with the Viper Z, of course. The ODD bay isn't tool-free, or modular. I can forgive the non-modular aspect at this price point, but a tool-free mechanism to attach the optical drives would be a welcome addition and for a case that offers so many other enthusiast friendly features. I was disappointed in the lack of tool-free functionality for the optical drives, though we didn't end up using one in our build, making the point somewhat moot. The drive caddies, while being made of quality materials, leave your drives mounted too close to the rear of the case and thus can cause interference with the side panel hitting the SATA cables attached to your storage drives, as we noted during our build. I think Rosewill can fix this with new hard drive caddie design and would recommend they do so for future case revisions, as this issue certainly caused worry that I'd snap the IO area of one of my hard drives or SSD. These small details aren't deal breakers, but are definitely annoyances that we noticed during the build.
For users who want a solid, well-built case that they can install a nice mid-range enthusiast system in, the Viper Z will fit the bill and do so admirably. The watercooling potential of the Viper Z is very impressive, given its price range, as well. I really liked the blue LED color scheme with the black frame and windowed side panel, as it looks really good without being too overpowering. The stock fans, while not overly impressive in the airflow department, work well and run fairly quietly. We came away very impressed with the build quality, functionality and style of the Viper Z and feel that it is a good value at it's current price of $51.99 shipped
after 20% off (promo code EMCKAAT83 that ends 10/9) and a $20 mail-in rebate at Newegg. Rosewill, with their Viper Z, has shown us that they are more than capable of producing a solid, well-built case targeted at enthusiasts and delivering it at a competitive price point.
Legit Bottom Line: Color us impressed. The Rosewill Viper Z is a well-built case that offers enthusiast features and premium options at a competitive price point.