FC-ZE1 Fatal1ty Aluminum Case - System Installation and Issues

Article Index
FC-ZE1 Fatal1ty Aluminum Case
Up Close and Personal - Outside
Up Close and Personal - Inside
System Installation and Issues
Airflow Performance and Conclusion

Installation:

We moved our Core 2 Duo test system from sitting on a cardboard box inside this case.  It should provide a better and safer home for our gear as every now and then my four year old and two year old son manage to get in the shop and stick screwdrivers on the motherboard while it's running.

Board Installed
Board Installed

Motherboard installation went alright, but was a little challenging as I didn't feel comfortable laying the case on its side and letting the heavy door torque on the hinges.  Zalman says it's okay to do this of course, but I'd rather be safe than sorry.  If there was a removable motherboard tray it would make this almost a non-issue, but the motherboard tray is not removable.  There is plenty of room to work inside this case which is one redeeming feature.  If you need to remove the PSU after the board is installed, it won't be a problem - even with a large HSF such as a 9700LED strapped to your CPU.

Hard Drive installation is very simple and straightforward.  Simply side the drive into the bay of your choice and push it forward until you can move the rubber roller down past the end of the drive.

Drives Installed
Drives Installed

Installing the drives requires a little force as the drive are being pushed into a foam bumper that helps eliminate drive vibration on the chassis.  Zalman has done an excellent job isolating vibration, although if you don't provide enough cooling, your drives could overheat as they have no metal-to-metal contact which helps dissipate heat.  Thankfully, the two 80mm front fans provide enough cooling even when running at 5v to keep the drives nice and cool.

My biggest gripe about this case came when I went to install an optical drive.  There are several issues with the whole 5.25" bay thing in this case.  First, it requires a Phillips screwdriver as well as an Allen wrench.  Second, there are not enough bay covers provided.  Third, my Plextor PX-750A would not fit in the 5.25" hole.  I initially tried the top hole and when it didn't fit, I thought it must be a machining error on the top hole so I tried another one; same result.

Drive Won't Fit
Drive Won't Fit

In the end, I broke out a DeWalt random orbit sander and sanded the drive bezel down in order to make it fit.  This took extra time and was unnecessary.  To sand the drive down, I had to take it apart to remove the plastic front in order not to pooch my drive with small dust particles.  I realize that Plextor may have used a slightly over-sized drive bezel on this drive, but the tolerance shouldn't be that fine on a case.  This drive fits into CoolerMaster cases and other generic cases just fine.

After an hour and a half we finally had our basic install finished in this case.  Most of the time, an install takes no more than 30 minutes or so.  This build took a long time because of wire routing issues, and most of all mounting the optical drive.  Taking the side panel off takes time, and then of course sanding down the drive itself to make it fit after confirming it wouldn't fit in the other drive bays - which required unscrewing the blanks.

All Installed
All Installed

The install looks nice and clean, and one thing I really love about this case is the window.  When it is shut, you can't see the hard drive wire jumble and the front of the case.

On the last page we'll take a look at this case in action and run see how well it keeps our hardware cool at both low and high fan speeds.