Zalman HD135 HTPC Case

Article Index
Zalman HD135 HTPC Case
HTPC System Installation
VFD and Software Usage
The Remote, Working Under Vista and More

Product: Zalman HD135 HTPC Case
Provided By: Zalman USA
Price: ~$300 CDN

Introduction:

Home theater PCs are becoming more and more popular among the home theater enthusiast for several reasons.  The largest reason for building and utilizing an HTPC is the consolidation of home theater components.  An HTPC can potentially replace your DVR, cable box, dvd recorder, dvd player, stereo receiver, media bridge, and stuff it into one nice tidy package.  And of course the most convenient benefit...one remote to do it all!  Well known for their excellent thermal solutions, Zalman entered the HTPC market some time ago with their first case, the HD135.  Does the HD135 stand up to Zalman's quality standards?  Read on to find out.

First Impressions:

The HD135 comes packaged in a standard box with plenty of styrofoam protection.  Inside you'll find the remote, software, instructions, and hardware housed in a smaller box.  The weight of the case was the first thing that caught my attention.  It's constructed entirely of aluminum, (with some itty bitty exceptions) but as you can see the aluminum is quite thick giving the case plenty of rigidity.  At first glance the remote appears to provide more than enough functions and is well laid out.

 
Case
 
Remote

The HD135 is built to handle a full size ATX system including a full size ATX power supply.  The case is finished to fit in with any other home theater components you may have and looks very much like a stereo receiver without a giant volume knob.  Zalman paid attention to detail when they built the HD135 to look like any other home theater component.  They even used chrome feet with rubber pads on the bottom.  Let's pop the top and see what's inside.

 
Lid
 
Inside

The lid detaches toolessly with two thumb screws at the rear, and slide it back.  Immediatly you'll see the top vent fan and fan shroud designed to assist the cpu fan in pulling in fresh cool air.  The plastic shroud is also telescopic to adjust for different heatsink mounting heights.  Inside the case itself the stand-offs are pre-installed for a standard ATX motherboard.  The expansion slots do not require tools either and use a lever locking mechanism that works quite well.  A fan is also mounted in the bottom of the case right next to the PSU to provide additional air flow. 

 
Expansion Slots
 
In

Since this PC could also be used as a media server there are plenty of drive bays to accomodate and storage hungry user.  With six 3.5" bays this case has the potential to hold 4.5 TB of storage.  Only one 5.25" drive bay is provided for a single DVD drive as the area under the drive houses the electronics to drive the VFD.  The mass of wires you see serve many suproses.  Two fan headers are provided for fan control, two thermal probes are provided for temperature monitoring, a power cable is required to operate the VFD / electronics, and the rest are for the USB and Firewire headers which are found under the flip down panel at the front of the case.  I also noticed the threaded holes for the case lid are a steel insert to prevent thread stripping through the aluminum.  Good idea!

 
Front
 
Screwed