Zalman MS800 Plus
Packed with features, an eighth expansion slot is the biggest thing missing from Zalman’s $100 MS800 Plus. That omission prevents builders from putting a double-slot graphics card into an ATX motherboard’s bottom slot, which is sometimes required in three-way SLI configurations—depending on motherboard layout.
We're not going to say that an eighth slot is mandatory for us, but we're still surprised to see such a well-detailed and tall case missing a feature that would have been so easy to add. Zalman's money instead goes into a three-drive backplane, a six-fan speed controller, card-supporting brackets that can also host a component cooling fan, and better material quality compared to less-expensive competitors. Some of the extra quality shows up as a more than five-pound weight penalty compared to today’s other contenders.
Unlike most sub-$100 cases, the MS800 has more than enough room to stack a radiator and fans beneath its top panel. Zalman even leaves room between the top chassis panel and plastic cover for a second set of fans, which could allow a radiator installation with push-pull fan configuration. The holes in the chassis do not line up with any of the radiators we've seen though, and the tabs that hold its external mesh insert get in the way of that optional second set of fans. You might be tempted to make some easy modifications, but we'd probably hang a double-width radiator from a single fan mount.
The extra component fan we mentioned is a 92 mm unit included in the MS800 Plus installation kit. Also included are extra brackets to hold more fans or cards, and a divisible (4+4-pin) eight-pin power cable extender.
The MS800 Plus doesn’t include any USB 3.0-to-USB 2.0 adapters, instead relying on builders to use a modern motherboard with front-panel headers. Platforms that lack the necessary header can still use the case’s two USB 2.0 jacks.