Zalman Z-Machine GT1000 Titanium = Sweet

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Product: Zalman Z-Machine GT1000
Provided By: Zalman USA
Real-Time Price:

 

Introduction:

Zalman is a name that many people associate with CPU and VGA cooling instead of cases.  The truth is Zalman makes some pretty high-end cases that carry a high-end price tag.  We've looked at some of their HTPC cases in the past, as well as the FC-ZE1 Fatal1ty Gaming Case.  While the Fatal1ty gaming case looked pretty sweet, it did have some major shortcomings that caused it to be one of the lowest rated cases we've ever taken a look at.  The FC-ZE1 scored a mere 5.4 (yes, out of 10) and Zalman sent us the Z-Machine GT1000 with confidence as they believe this case will do much better.  Even if it is a top-notch case, is it still worth $400?  We'll check it out on the following pages.

 GT1000 Box
GT1000 Box

The GT1000 comes double boxed and protected by a good amount of Styrofoam.  If you order one of these heavy monsters, you'll see a brown box arrive on your doorstep that you may want some help with if you haven't been eating your Wheaties.  This case ships at 38lbs, and is one of the heaviest aluminum cases around.  There is a good reason for that as you'll see as we carry on.

The Z-Machine GT1000 comes in two flavors - Black with Red LED fans and accents, or Titanium with Blue LED fans and accents.  I was grateful to get the Titanium version as the Black/Red motif reminds me of the horrible FC-ZE1.  Zalman has done more than update the color scheme of this case.  They've added some much-needed features and made many improvements to this enclosure.  If you can't wait to see what has changed, take look at the feature list on the box.

Features On Box
Features On Box

 

Features & Info:

Below is a list of features and benefits that make the Z-Machine GT1000 stand out from the crowd.

  • High End Gaming PC Enclosure Constructed with Anodized Sturdy Aluminum Panels
  • Convenient Tool Free Installation of Disk Drives (HDD, ODD), Fan Controllers, Audio Interfaces, etc.
  • Accommodates up to 6 Hard Drives (4 in the HDD Chassis, 2 on the Bottom Panel)
  • Hinged Side Panels for Convenient Installation and Maintenance
  • Aerodynamic Design for Optimized Air flow and Quiet Operation

 

 Manual
Manual
 Bundle
Bundle

 

Noise & Vibration Preventive Structure
All sides of the GT1000 are comprised of aluminum material of 4~5mm thickness and have each been assembled by an engineer to provide a firm enclosure with noise and vibration preventions. Furthermore, the connection part for the HDD (Hard Disk Drive) is made of rubber rollers and dampers, which serve to capture the vibration and noise from escaping.

Optimal Airflow
The GT1000 enclosure is designed to maintain optimum internal temperature at all times, incorporating two 92mm LED Front Intake Fans and a 120mm Rear Exhaust Fan for high volume airflow through the system at low fan RPM for high performance cooling with quiet operation, and accommodates even the hottest CPUs that generate over 130watts of heat.

Designed for HDD with High TDP
The latest high performance HDDs have high generation of heat due to high RPM. The two 92mm LED Front Intake Fans draw in cool air from the outside into the system. As HDD is the first component to be cooled by this cool air, the decrease in the product’s life expectancy and the occurrence of data error caused by high heat are minimized.

Control of Noise & System Cooling
The ZM-MC1 is provided with the GT1000, which allows the control of fan RPM according to the ambient environment (temperature, humidity, etc.) Thus, the user can manually control the fan RPM to control the levels of noise and internal system cooling.

One Touch-Opening Door Side Panel
The side panel is designed to be opened with a one touch opening door method. Thus, the side panel can be opened without the use of any special tools, which makes it convenient for users who have frequent component changes.

Convenient Front Input/Output Ports
The Front I/O Port includes sockets for speakers (headphones), microphone, 2 USB devices, and a 1394 (Firewire) device for convenient system access. Audio sockets support HD Audio (Azalia) and AC’97 specifications.

Tool-free installation
1) Tool-free HDD installation
Patent pending design that incorporates anchored spinning bars with cylindrical rubber wheels allows the user to install and remove the HDD simply by rolling the HDD in and out of the chassis without having to use any tools. Furthermore, there is sufficient space in the lower section of the enclosure where two HDDs can be installed in a tool-free manner.

2) Tool-free 5.25” installation
The hand bolts are fixed onto the 5.25” bay at all times, which allows the installation and removing of the 5.25” driver in a tool-free manner.

3) Tool-free Expansion Card installation
Hand bolts (not standard bolts) are used for installing and removing the expansion cards, which allows tool-free installation.

Excellent Expandability
Besides the four 5.25” Bays and one 3.5” Bay exposed to the outside, the installation of six 3.5” HDD is possible, providing the best expandability among enclosures in the same group.

Ideal Gaming PC Environment
The use of ZALMAN’s CPU cooler, VGA cooler, PSU, and Northbridge cooler with the GT1000 will provide a quiet and stable gaming PC. (CNPS9700, VF700, VF900, ZM460B-APS, ZM600-HP, ZM-NBF47 etc.…)

 

Specifications
Enclosure Type Tower
Enclosure Dimensions 480mm X 220mm X 450mm (18.9”X 8.7”X 17.7”) (L*W*H)
Weight 12.5kg (27.5lb)
Material Aluminum 4~5T
Motherboard Compatibility Standard ATX / microATX
PSU Compatibility Standard ATX / ATX12V
PCI/AGP Card Compatibility Full Size
Drive Bays
(Tool Free Kit provided)
3.5" Bay x 7
5.25" Bay x 4
Cooling Components Front Intake Fans : 92mm LED Fan× 2
Rear Exhaust Fan : 120mm LED Fan × 1
Expansion Card Slots
7 Slots(Tool Free Bolts provided)
Front I/O Ports USB Port × 2, IEEE1394(Firewire) Port × 1
Headphones × 1, MIC × 1
Color Options Titanium / Black

 

On the next page we'll take a closer look around the outside of the GT1000.


Introducing the Z-Machine Titanium:

If you like black, you may be more interested in the other Z-Machine GT1000 with Red LEDs, but I find the grey Titanium finish to appeal as black and red has been done by many other companies.  I know that blue LED fans are nothing new, but combined with the sleek aluminum styling of the GT1000, combined with a nice tinted window, the blue/grey scheme really looks nice in my opinion.  As you look below, take note of the new swing-away split side panel as well as the swing way front panel on the motherboard side of the case.

 Window Side Profile
Window Side Profile
 Motherboard Side Profile
Motherboard Side Profile

 

The FC-ZE1 Fatal1ty case was absolutely plastered with laser etched logos for Zalman, Fatal1ty as well as many other decals, warnings and instructions.  Thankfully, this has been toned down and the graphics are now much more subtle.  At times, I would still prefer a case void of logos - except for maybe something on a removable 5.25" bay cover.  Either way, the case is much sleeker looking than the FC-ZE1 billboard.

Front & Back Outside
Front & Back Outside

As you can see above, the front and back styling is very similar to the FC-ZE1 case, and that's not a bad thing.  The front and back were a couple ares that we had no issues with previously and that still stands.  Fresh air is provided inside the case by two 92mm fans at the bottom front, and these can be switched from 12v to 5v by using a provided "Y" adapter.  The power and reset buttons are aluminum and feel very solid.  The only beef I've got with this case at this point is the missing 5.25" bay cover on the top bay.  Most people who build a computer are going to install an optical drive, fan controller or some other 5.25" device, but the mission drive bay cover still irritates me a wee bit.  That being said, it doesn't reduce it's functionality or final appearance once you install a drive.

 

Close Up:

I mentioned that the GT1000 doesn't have as many logos as it's predecessor, but it still has a few, and if you are planning some custom modding of this case, you'll have to take care of a few.  These don't bother me though as they are tasteful and brag about what you've got.  If you drop the money on a case like this, you'll want people to know what you paid for.

 

 Zalman Logo
Zalman Logo
Z-Machine Logo
Z-Machine Logo

 

The front of the case has the standard Power and Reset buttons as well as headphone and microphone jacks.  You can also see in the far right that there are two USB2.0 ports and a 6-pin Firewire port to round out the connectivity choices.  You'll also notice the make and model of the case printed on the front as well.

 Front I/O & Buttons
Front I/O & Buttons

 

As we carry on and look at the back of the GT1000 we see that Zalman has once again used rubber washers to help prevent vibration from the 120mm rear exhaust fan and help silence your computer.  Also as we look down to the PCI slot expansion bays we notice that the whole are covered be removable and replaceable blanks!  In the FC-ZE1 case, these covers had to be snapped off and there were no replacements provided.  Thankfully the GT1000 has replaceable covers that don't have to be broken off.

 Rubber Fan Mount
Rubber Fan Mount
 Rear PCI Slots
Rear PCI Slots

 

On the next page we'll open up this case and take a closer look inside.


Inside the Z-Machine GT1000:

This case has some much need improvements all around.  The first up is the door hinging mechanism.  With the FC-ZE1, the side door hinge would only rotate so far and when you were installing hardware this was a major cause for concern.  With the case laid on its side, the door would swing and then pry against the hinge as it couldn't rotate and lay down on the workbench.  Zalman has done things quite different by splitting the left side of the case and making two doors.  One contains the window and can be swung clear around to rest on the workbench, while the other swings forward and rests against its hinges.  Even though this door does pry against the hinge, it's not as big of an issue as the front-left door is much smaller than the entire side panel of the FC-ZE1.

Case Open
Case Open

 

As you can see above, the window is tinted and is large enough to display the motherboard area, but not the drives.  The tint screams sweetness, and the lack of windowed drives gives you a better chance of hiding cables out of sight of the window.

The left side panels are secured with thumbscrews for transportation, but also feature magnetic closures that keep the doors shut when you have the GT1000 sitting stationary on your desk.  These magnets are strong enough to keep everything closed without rattling, but are weak enough so that you can easily open the door.

 Magnet Closures
Magnet Closures
 Metal For Magnet
Metal For Magnet

 

Although there are a lot of wires included, the mid-sized window, combined with the cable management loops that are pictured on Page 1 in the bundle help you route, manage and hide most of the cables and wires easily.  I am no cable guru and my management skills are limited, but Nicao has some mad cable skillz that he picked up assembling computers for a few months.

 Bundle Of Wires
Bundle Of Wires

 

One issue we had recently with the Gigabyte 3D Mercury Pro case was that some of the cables were not long enough to reach the back corner of the motherboard (where our firewire was located).  Zalman has provided long enough cables so that this isn't an issue.  In fact these cables are long enough, you can probably route them around the board and keep them hidden underneath.  Some may list these long cables as a "Con" because there is more cable length to hide, I believe this is a "Pro" as you have a lot more options on what to do and where to go with your cables.

As we take a look at the inside back and front of the case I'll quickly point out a few features and improvements.  The PCI slot area has removable and replaceable covers with the Fatal1ty case did not.  This should be standard on every case that is made, especially premium cases, and Zalman spent the extra $0.10 and installed them - with thumbscrews no less.  This makes adding cards easy as screws hold cards in place better than most tool-less clip designs I've seen.

 Front & Back Inside
Front & Back Inside

The front of the case has room for four (4) 5.25" devices and the top two are tool-less with built-in screws.  This is very handy and works very well.  The reason Zalman didn't include these on all drive bays is a complicated issue.  Most drives and devices should work fine with this design, but if for some reason they don't you have the option to use the bottom two drive bays.  I would have liked to see them included on all bays, but for compatibility, sake, I can't blame them.  Speaking of compatibility, you may recall that I had to sand down my DVDRW drive in order to get it to fit in the aluminum bay opening on the FC-ZE1 Fatal1ty case.  Thank goodness that the GT1000 has slightly larger bays that allow standard drives to fit.

The Hard Drive rack has been expanded to fit a total of four drives now instead of the three drives on the Fatal1ty case.  This is a big deal for many gamers that have RAID arrays and often use more than three drives in a system.

 

 HDD Rack & Fans
HDD Rack & Fans
 Bottom HDD Rack
Bottom HDD Rack

 

Wait a minute!  Zalman said that the case supported 6 drives and there is only room in the rack for 4?  Check out the bottom drive mounts in the picture above on the right.  These drive racks are also tool-less and have a very nice anti-vibration system as well.  I prefer to use the bottom racks for showing off what drives are in the system, but the front rack offers active cooling by means of the two 92mm fans.

On the next page we'll cover system installation.


System Installation:

For this review we threw in some spare parts we had laying around as our main systems are busy crunching data and are being used for other upcoming reviews.  We'll start off by showing the slick tool-less installation of hard drives in both the front and bottoms racks.

Drive installation in the front bays could not be simpler.  You can install a drive in any of the four bays by simply sliding it it and rolling the back rubber roller over the back.  There are thumbscrews available to put in a notch that secures the roller from sliding up and your drive sliding out during transportation to a LAN.  If you take your time, this should take no more than 30 seconds.

HDD Rack w/Drive
HDD Rack w/Drive

To install a drive in the bottom rack requires that you unscrew the four rubber drive mounts from the bottom of the case and screw them into each of the four corners of the HDD.  You can then release the rear clamp and drop the drive into place.  You will then secure the clips over top of the rear rubber mounts and you're done.  This will take a little longer and may take up to a minute . . . if you take your time.  Overall, this a great way to add a couple of drives to a system without sacrificing a 5.25" drive bay and provide a vibration free mount for a couple of drives.

 Bottom HDD Mounts
Bottom HDD Mounts
 HDD On Bottom
HDD On Bottom

 

Apparently there is not a lot of cases on the market that support 6 Hard Drives by default and if this is a big deal for you, welcome to the GT1000.

After the drive was installed securely to the bottom of the case, we removed the motherboard tray - which is actually most of the right side of the case, and proceeded with motherboard installation.  Motherboard tray removal requires using the provided hex-wrench and only takes a couple minutes.  Even with drives mounted on the bottom of the case, there is still plenty of room to mount the motherboard inside the case, without removing the tray, but I thought it would be handy for the sake of taking pictures to remove the tray.

Mobo On Tray
Mobo On Tray

 

At this point of the installation process I became nervous.  I took an optical drive and slid it in the empty space dreading the feeling of the drive bezel mashing against the front of the case.  I was very pleased to see that the drive slid into place - like a glove.  To secure the drive, we used the provided pre-installed screws and had it mounted very securely, very quickly.  The holes line up perfectly with the drive as it sits flush with the front of the case.  Measurements and engineering are 100% in terms of Optical drive installation.

 ODD In Bay
ODD In Bay
ODD Installation
ODD Installation

 

The wrap up is on the last page.


System Running: 

With everything installed and running we took a couple of pictures for your viewing pleasure.  As I mentioned before, the test system was comprised of spare parts laying around so we didn't take temperatures for comparison.  The case has the same fans and airflow design as the FC-ZE1, and that seemed to work well.  I would imagine that airflow in the GT1000 would be very similar if not identical in terms of cooling.

Instead of a chart, all we've got are some pictures of the sweet Titanium GT1000 in action below.

Running Profile Daylight
Running - Daylight

 

Running Profile Low Light
Running - Low Light

Conclusion:

This case is a huge improvement over the earlier FC-ZE1.  The FC-ZE1 "Fatal1ty" case was the first enthusiast oriented tower from Zalman and it had its share of issues.  The GT1000 comes in two flavors - Black with red LED fans, or Titanium (Grey) with blue LED fans.  Both of these case have the same layout and same improvements over the FC-ZE1.  The GT1000 has a long list of features and improvements that make it stand above the competition.  It has twice the HDD bays than its predecessor and optical drive bays that actually work.  It has a great layout, nice lighting and is easy to work in.

The removable motherboard tray is a nice feature as well as the removable blanks for the PCI slots.  The door hinges have been improved so that the door swings all the way back and can rest on your work area when the case is on its side.  The split doors are a nice addition and allows for a nice custom look.  Although this case costs as much as a complete water-cooled case (Gigabyte 3D Mercury Pro), if you're looking for a premium chassis, this case should be at the top of your list.

Pros:

  • Solid, high quality construction.
  • Tool-less HDD, ODD and PCI installation.
  • Improved hinge/door design over the FC-ZE1.
  • Anti-Vibration rubber feet, rubber grommets on fans, and HDD mounting.
  • Extra hex-screws provided in case you lose some.
  • Good airflow, and fairly quiet chassis.
  • Everything works smoothly, fits well, and there are no sharp edges to injure yourself on.
  • Tinted side window is very classy.

 

Cons:

  •  Pricey.

 

BCCHardware.com Rating
Quality:
10/10
Performance:
10/10
Software Pack:
n/a
Stability:
10/10
Features:
9/10
Value:
9/10
Total Score 9.6

 

Even though this case costs a whopping $400, I left the Value score at 9 because this case is geared toward the enthusiast and it does everything well.  If it sucked, as did the Fatal1ty FC-ZE1, it wouldn't have a lot of value at $400, but the GT1000 is the nicest case I've seen from Zalman and for the enthusiast, and the person who wants to showcase their top-end gear in and equally top-end case, the Z-Machine GT1000 Titanium is an easy choice.

 Top Pick

If you have any comments, questions or general feedback regarding this case, please drop us a line in our forum at the comments link below.  I'd like to thank ZalmanUSA for sending this case up for us to take a look at.