FC-ZE1 Fatal1ty Aluminum Case - Airflow Performance and Conclusion

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

Up & Running:

Back in the days of yore, red LEDs were about the only affordable LED when it came to modding.  As blue LEDs became more popular, people quit using the common red LED.  After years of being MIA in the enthusiast world, I must admit that red LED lighting does have some appeal once again.

Front Lights
 Front Lights

Back and CPU Lights
 Back and CPU Lights

Cooling Performance:

To run some "benchmarks" on this case we ran the fans at both 5v and 12v using the provided Y adapters. 

When the system is idle, running the fans at high speed doesn't lower temperatures dramatically on this system.  CPU, motherboard and GPU temperatures only drop a maximum of 3C when idle.  When the system is running full-load, things are only a little different.  CPU temperature drops 3C, motherboard temperature is down 5C, and GPU temperature is down 4C.

This brings to mind another issue I have with this case.  For $380 Zalman doesn't include a fan controller of any kind to control the speed of the case fans.  They include Y adapters that require you open your case, unplug fans from one side of the Y and into the other side.  This is not handy at all - especially when you're sitting around idle at a LAN, then want to crank up the performance when you go to game.  You could of course leave the fans at 12v the entire time, but they do make a fair bit of noise.

Conclusion:

This case has been bitter - sweet in so many ways.  It has 5mm thick aluminum panels which make it feel like a tank in terms of durability, but it has so many other things that go against it.  While the front aluminum bezel exudes quality, the fact that I had to sand down an optical drive to get it to fit in the hole is just plain ridiculous.  The PCI expansion slots at the back are the snap-off style and they don't include extras to fill the holes if you should move or remove hardware later on.  Also, having high and low speed fan options are nice, but when you have to open your case and unplug the fans, then plug them into another side of the adapter is downright cheep.  Zalman makes a sweet fan controller - the ZM-MFC1 and if they did it in a red Fatal1ty theme and included it with this case - it would be a much better fan control choice.

Pros:

  • Thick aluminum panels.
  • Tool-less anti-vibration Hard Drive bays.
  • Anti-vibration rubber feet and rubber grommets on fans.
  • Extra Allen screws provided in case you lose some.

Cons:

  • Door cannot be removed.
  • Installing 5.25" devices requires removal of 6 Allen Screws and 2 Phillips screws.
  • 5.25" Bay too small to install Plextor DVDRW.
  • Fan control is Y adapter (cheap)
  • PCI slot covers are snap-off and there are no replacements.
  • Non-removable motherboard tray.
  • Looks a little tacky with so many logos.

BCCHardware.com Rating
Quality:
7/10
Performance:
7/10
Installation:
4/10
Stability:
n/a
Features:
5/10
Value:
4/10
Total Score 5.4

I really wanted to like this case, but the truth is that is has some major issues.  These are mostly in the way of cheap things on an expensive case.  I feel confident that Zalman could remedy this without much cost to them and provide the user with a much better experience.  I know that many of you may flame me for this extremely low score, but for $380 for a mid-tower case, you'd really expect that there would be more features and easier to use.

If you have any questions or comments, please drop me a line in the forum at the comments link below.