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Zalman Z11 Neo ATX Case Review

With more radiator space and a more-modern design, does Zalman’s Z11 Neo have the combination of cool and quiet to get our stamp of approval?

Inside The Z11 Neo

An 80mm slim fan in each side panel pulls warm air away from drives, but also pulls out some of the air from the single 120mm intake fan. The duct behind these fans is responsible for the Z11 Neo’s bulged panels, and exhaust vents are placed near the rear of that bulge (facing forward).

A large hole in the motherboard tray accommodates the installation of CPU cooler support plates in various positions, and the perforated portion below that supports a 2.5” drive on the rear of the motherboard tray. That means the case can hold up to nine 2.5” drives or eight 3.5” drives, including those mounted in two blocked-off 5.25” bays.

Two triple-tray drive cages are individually removable to make way for long expansion cards. A vertical brace behind these trays is also removable, though long cards can usually be inserted without removing it.

Each flexible drive tray supports a 3.5” drive via side pins, or a 2.5” drive via screws. True craftsmen might even be able to put a 3.5” drive on top and a 2.5” drive on the bottom of each tray, though doing so would adversely affect airflow.

The chassis upon which the Z11 Neo is based was originally designed for three 5.25” bays, and Zalman makes the two closed-off bays useful by putting internal drive adapters here. Both adapters are drilled to support 3.5” and 2.5” drives. One could probably fit a full-height MFM drive here, though finding an interface adapter might prove challenging.

Space behind the Z11 Neo’s motherboard tray is more than adequate for managing cables, so Zalman decided it was a good place to put a hidden 2.5” mount. Unfortunately, installing that drive makes the space barely adequate. We’ll do it anyway, just to make sure it’s possible.

A top-panel mount that supports two 140mm or two 120mm fans is offset 1.5” from the motherboard tray, providing room for extra-thick radiators. Zalman says you can fit dual radiators (stacked) here, but that’s only possible with 1”-thick radiators if your motherboard has adequate clearence at its top edge. We’re more comfortable suggesting a single thick radiator instead.

The top is also limited to 120mm and 2x 120mm radiators (which are often mislabeled 240mm radiators by sellers), since the 140mm mounting locations are too close to the edges to fit the oversized radiator’s end caps and line fittings. This shouldn’t be a big problem for most builders, since 2x 120mm is the more-common “large” size.

  • Alexandru Tudor Sarbu
    I have one and it's awesome! :D
    Reply
  • danlw
    I would be interested to see it up against the Fractal Design R5. That's the case I'm planning to get, but I can be swayed.

    But really, Zalman? Break away slot covers? You came so close to knocking it out of the park...
    Reply
  • Steveymoo
    So, 6 months before all your components get covered in dust? :D
    Reply
  • Crashman
    15895020 said:
    So, 6 months before all your components get covered in dust? :D
    Put in another intake fan if you want positive pressure to trap most of your dust in the front filter :)

    Reply
  • King Kii
    I would be interested to see it up against the Fractal Design R5. That's the case I'm planning to get, but I can be swayed.

    But really, Zalman? Break away slot covers? You came so close to knocking it out of the park...

    go for the Fractal. Fractal's build, material quality, and thoughtfulness is very hard to beat. you definitely get what you pay for when it comes to their stuff.
    Reply
  • PaulBags
    Those hard drive mounts look like corsair rip offs.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    15900142 said:
    Those hard drive mounts look like corsair rip offs.
    Nearly every time I see a statement like that, I'm able to find a previous product from a third brand to contradict it. Many of these ideas come from the ODM itself, rather than the brand that has the product customized to match its market.
    Reply
  • Eggz
    Great performance, a little ugly.

    But if you like the way it looks, then it seems like a great deal!
    Reply