Zalman Z11 Plus Review
Up Close: Interior
The interior of the Z11 is laid out in a largely traditional way. Ample cable management holes are provided, which although devoid of rubber grommets do have nice turned steel edges. Along with a large CPU cut out, there is also a second large cut out running the entire length of the base of the motherboard area. Although this large cut out does make it very easy to pass cables to the rear of the motherboard, it also makes this rear area very visible and as such reduces the places available to stash unwanted and unused cables out of sight. Before we move on to look at the rest of the interior in detail, now's quite an opportune time to have a quick look at the interior of the side panel, and in particular the side panel fan. The picture below right is a close up of the interior of a side panel, showing the inside of one of the fan intakes. Why have we shown you this? Well we hope it shows the level of quality and finish in this case. Don't go thinking this is some cheap piece of junk made out of monkey metal and badly fitted together. There's real time and effort gone into the fit and finish here.
With no less than 5x2.5" bays the resulting bay area dominates the front of the case. No tool free installation mechanisms here though, just good old fashioned screws will be used to hold your devices in place. We have to be honest and wonder quite what you can find to take up all 5 bays. With no real chances of getting a radiator into this case the need to use to for a bay reservoir is negated, OK a fan controller, maybe an optical drive if you absolutely insist on using such antiquated hardware, but aside from that....OK, perhaps we're being a little heavy handed here, maybe we should just count as 4 bays as the lower bay has an integral adapter which enables it to accommodate not just 5.25" but also 3.5" and 2.5" devices. Beneath the 5.25" bays lies the internal drive storage area. Again, 5 is the magic number, with drives simply having rubber grommeted isolation screws attached to the relevant side holes before being slid into the runners of the bay. The whole of the 3.5" bay area is build from 2 sections of hex-mesh perforated steel, allowing good airflow though the assembly. Immediately forward of the 3.5" bays lies the front intake fan. A 120mm blue LED unit is fitted, but mounting holes are present for a 140mm model.
As we saw from the outside, the base of the case supports a 120mm or 140mm fan, although neither is included. Four rubber isolation feet are fitted for your PSU of choice but as with many cases, fitting a longer PSU will obscure the base fan location. What does concern us a little are the very thin slits made in the base for the intake or extract of air from the PSU (depending on which way up you mount it). With so much use made of the hex pattern else where in the case it's hard to see why Zalman would want to risk restricting airflow in this area. The 2 images below also better serve to illustrate the metal tabs that secure the expansion bay covers and the white bladed non LED fan referred to when we toured the exterior.
The roof of the Z11 provides a decent area for hot air extraction. With 1x120mm blue LED fan already fitted, the large Hex mesh area is able to accept a total of 2x120mm or 2x140mm fans. These fans feed air straight up and out to the slatted area on the roof exterior.
Although with only 15mm of room behind the Motherboard the Z11 cannot claim to be palacial, what does make a difference though is the thoughtfully inclusion of 22 cable tie points. We have a sneaking suspicion that this more than generous feature will make for a pleasant build and by far compensate for the slim work area.
When first looking at the rear of the case we were rather perplexed by what at first sight appeared to be a mounting bracket for a 60mm fan just below the CPU cut out. OK, so they've put little fans in the doors, maybe they think we want little fans behind our Motherboard. Perhaps the reason we though this was that we just didn't expect to see a bracket that enables you to mount a 2.5" drive on the posterior aspect of the Motherboard tray, but that's exactly what it is. Shame on us for having pre conceived ideas about what a Budget case should be like.