Zalman Z11 Plus Black Case ReviewMon, Jun 18, 2012 - 12:00 AM
Z11 Plus Exterior Thoughts
It is time for me to start ripping this chassis apart and see what makes the z11 Plus chassis tick.
This is what the Zalman Z11 Plus chassis looks like prior to me tearing it apart. Take a good long look because it will be the last time you see the Z11 Plus like this.
Starting from the top front of this chassis, we can see that Zalman places their name dead center of the chassis’ front bezel. Turning our attention to the 5.25” bay covers, Zalman uses a standard metal mesh to keep large objects from entering the chassis, while providing air flow into the chassis.
Zalman made sure that the entire lower portion of the front bezel uses vents that are large enough and spaced far enough apart to give us users the maximum amount of air flow to the front fan.
Here is a closer look at the front bezel vents.
Looking at the left side of the Z11 plus chassis (if you are looking directly at the front), the one thing that grabs our attention is not the window, but this unusually large vent that is mounted onto the side panel. This side vent is used as an exhaust for our HDDs. So, instead of dumping the excess heat of our HDDs into the chassis’ interior, Zalman uses these side vents to help vent the hot air out of the chassis. I will go more into detail how Zalman does this on the interior descriptions. I will have to add that Zalman places HDD exhaust vents on both sides of this chassis.
An up close shot of the exhaust ports of the HDD exhaust vents.
The side panel window that is being used on the Z11 Plus chassis is a bit different from what we are used to seeing. Instead of this window being flat, Zalman makes the window on the Z11 plus form outward. This side window also has a light smoked look to it.
Time for us to turn our attention over to the back side of the Z11 Plus chassis. As we can see, the Zalman Z11 Plus chassis uses a standard ATX layout.
Looking at the upper portion of the backside of the chassis, we see it is not much different from what we have seen on previous chassis. Right below the rear 120mm exhaust fan Zalman places 2 water cooling hose access ports to allow us to use an external water cooling setup on our computer. Zalman also places rubber grommets to keep our water cooling lines from getting cut or chafed when we route our hoses through these access ports.
Word of note: These water cooling access ports can only accommodate up to a 5/8” OD tubing/hose, so for those who use the larger 3/4” OD tubing/hose, you will have to use the smaller OD tubing/hose.
Since this is a midsized tower, the Z11 Plus can only use the standard mATX/ATX style of motherboards, as there are only 7 PCI Expansion ports available. Right alongside of the PCI Expansion ports, Zalman places hexagonal vents to help aid in air circulation inside of the chassis.
The PCI expansion covers are not actually covers; once you remove them, then you can no longer use them. I would like to have seen actual vented PCI expansion covers instead of the remove and throw away covers used.
The Power Supply Unit (PSU) gets mounted on the bottom of the chassis. Zalman ensures there are multiple mounting holes to accommodate the multitude of PSUs that are out on the market today.
Here is the right side of the Zalman Z11 Plus chassis; as I said earlier, both side panels use an HDD exhaust vent.
Time for us to turn our attention over to the bottom portion of the Z11 Plus chassis. Giving the bottom of the chassis a quick glance, we can see that Zalman places fan filters to help keep large objects from entering our chassis.
Now what I don’t completely understand is why did Zalman use a locking type of filter holder instead of using the standard sliding type of filter holder? Because in order for us to even clean these filters, we would have to turn the computer off, lay it on its side, and then remove the filters. This to me is way too much work to remove a simple fan filter.
On the bottom of the plastic feet of the Zalman Z11 Plus chassis are rubber insets to ensure that we do not mar the surface of what our chassis is placed on. Also, they help keep the Z11 Plus chassis from sliding around on the floor.
We are moving our way up toward the top of the Z11 chassis.
Zalman places the Front on/off button up front and dead center of the top of the chassis; also, Zalman makes sure this button is large enough for us to turn on/off the computer with ease. Up behind the on/off button and to the sides are the USB 3/USB 2 IO ports, and right behind the USB 2 (top in picture) are the headphone jack/mic jacks, and then right behind the USB 3 ports (bottom in picture) is the reset button and the HDD LED indicator.
I would have preferred to have seen the reset button up toward the front of the chassis for quicker access, but this is more of a personal preference, so I won’t hold this against the Z11 Plus chassis.
Instead of using a mesh covering on the upper exhaust fans, Zalman uses more open rear facing smoked translucent plastic directional vents. These vents will also light up to the color of the fan that is used as an upper exhaust fan.
The only way we can remove/replace, or clean the front fan is by removing the front bezel. This is one area that Zalman could have done a lot better. Trying to remove this front bezel proved to be rather difficult, and it required a bit of force to get it to come off. When it finally came off, I thought I may have broken it (I didn’t). Then when I had to put it back on the chassis, it required a couple of good hits to make sure it was secured. That is the last thing you want to do to your computer especially when all of your components are inside of the chassis.
Now, I like how Zalman included the used of the quick disconnects from the on/off power button and LED indicator.
Zalman places small foam filters behind the 5.25” bay covers to further reduce the dust to micro sized particles.
Similar to how the bottom fan filters are attached to the Z11 Plus chassis, the front filter uses a locking type of holder. We can mount either a 120mm fan (which is included) or we can change this fan out for a larger 140mm fan.
I was going to show you the upper part of the chassis with the upper bezel removed, but like the front bezel it was also extremely hard to remove it. But unlike the front bezel, the upper bezel is a bit more delicate. In order for you to install/remove the upper exhaust fans on this chassis, you have to remove the upper bezel. All I am going to say is tread very lightly in its removal.