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Zalman: Sticking To Its Roots

CES 2010, Day 1: AMD CPUs, DX11 Goes Mobile, Fermi Spotted
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Let’s switch gears and talk about Zalman, the well-known purveyor of high-end cooling products, ultra-quiet cases, and efficient power supplies. The company is now ten years old. Founded by an attorney annoyed at the noise generated by his PC, Zalman has certainly made its mark on the PC enthusiast space.

I met with Vincent Kim, sales manager, and Chinny Chuang, marketing manager, both headquartered in Zalman’s US office. Dr. Minwhan Seo, the company’s chief technology officer from the company's Korean R&D center was also present. What began as overviews of new products from Zalman evolved into a freewheeling discussion covering a variety of topics.

But first, the new stuff.

Zalman is famous for its lineup of quiet PC cases, but no one would characterize its previous PC enclosures as inexpensive. Now, Zalman is entering the value case segment with its Z7, a mid-tower design that will be priced under $100 while still offering sound dampening material in the side panels and robust airflow. There will also be a slightly higher-cost Z7 Plus, which will sport a transparent side panel as well.

Also on tap will be a value CPU cooler, based on the current CNPS10X product line, dubbed the CNPS10X Performa. Kim was reluctant to discuss price, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see a sub-$60 or even sub-$50 price point.

Zalman will also be shipping a new, dual-fan graphics card cooler, the VF3000. Versions will be available to support both Nvidia and AMD hardware. The AMD version is, not surprisingly, bright red, and will work with the Radeon HD 5870.

Dr. Seo, as it turns out, also has a keen interest in 3D stereoscopic technology. Interestingly, Zalman is one of the major suppliers of 3D polarizers for LCD panels, including its own line of panels. Currently, the company offers 19- and 22-inch displays, but is working on a 24-inch, 1080p unit for later in the year. Seo sees a strong opportunity in 3D displays, and is working to position Zalman as a leading supplier of enabling technology for stereoscopic 3D, both on desktop and living room displays. Given the push by major panel vendors, Zalman is likely to face pretty stiff competition, however.

Patriot Throws A Party

I would have liked to hang out with all the performance geeks who showed up at the party hosted by Patriot and Gigabyte, but I had overlapping commitments. I managed to arrive at the kickoff of the event, where Patriot unveiled its highest-performance SSD to date, which it's calling Inferno. Available in 128GB and 256GB capacities, Inferno looks to take on Intel’s second-generation SSDs with the SandForce MLC controller, and will support TRIM out of the box.

Patriot also had fast memory on display (though nothing new of note), as well as a tiny media server and a two-bay NAS device. More intriguing was a tiny NAS dongle roughly half the size of a pack of playing cards with two USB ports. Just hang USB drives off the available ports and plug the RJ-45 jack into your network and you have instant NAS (for a mere fifty bucks, no less). The only downside: it’s only fast Ethernet, not gigabit Ethernet. But hey, it’s fifty dollars, and allows you to make efficient use of all those old USB drives you have lying around.

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