Zalman GS1000 Tower Case

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Product: Zalman GS1000 Tower Case
Provided By: Zalman USA
Price:

Introduction:

It's been a while since we've seen a new Zalman case here at BCCHardware and I was pretty interested when Zalman offered us a look at the GS1000.  Their previous tower chassis were built like tanks and were pretty expensive, while the new GS1000 is lighter, more affordable and it has some pretty interesting features.  It supports motherboards up to E-ATX sizes, has nice aluminum side panels, supports long PCIe graphics cards, has lots of ventilation, a bottom mounted power supply and supports six HDDs - 3 of which are hot-swap SATA.  All of this is presented in a tool-less package that seems to work pretty well.  The only thing you'll need a screwdriver for is to mount your motherboard.  After that, it's all gravy.

Box Shot
Box Shot

 

About Zalman:

Zalman

First Look & Accessories:

Zalman has grown to be very well known for the line of CNPS "Computer Noise Prevention System" coolers, PSU and cases.  Today we have a look at their least expensive case ever to hit the street.  It's the GS1000 and it has some pretty interesting features as we'll soon see.

GS1000 Profile
GS1000 Profile

 

The GS1000 arrived in a very large box that was wheeled through the door on a cart.  The box wasn't that heavy, but it was quite bulky.  Inside the box, supported by Styrofoam and covered in a shroud - the GS1000 arrived undamaged and in great shape.  Inside the case in a white box were the accessories and thankfully the case feet as it ships without them installed.

 Accessory Box
Accessory Box
Accessories
Accessories

 

Also included in the accessories is a 3.5" to 5.25" drive bay adapter as the GS1000 doesn't natively support 3.5" devices.  There is the standard bag of screws as well as 8-pin to 4-pin x2 power cable.  The power cable confuses me when it's included with a case though.



Features:

This case has a unique design and offers several features that are worth mentioning.  It comes with a pair of 120mm fans installed and has room for several more if you need more airflow than what is provided with the two low-rpm 120mm fans.

  • The GS1000 is designed for optimal airflow on both intake and exhaust.
  • Vented front HDD door allows cool air to enter helps cool the drives.
  • The ventilated floor panel helps cool the PSU and other components.
  • The top vent coupled with a 120mm fan are very effective in exhausting hot air.
  • The optional 120mm fan ports will allow additional fans to further enhance cooling performance.
  • Tool Free design allows for easy installation.
  • Rubber damper and hook system makes swapping out hard drives hassle free.
  • Tool-free installation for 5.25” devices.
  • Thumb screws for easy PCI card removal and installation.
  • The front panel HDD door uses a one-touch operation to open and close.
  • The hot swappable HDD bay allows for easy installation.
  • The input port cover door on the top of the case is designed with extra durable damper gear for a smooth swivel mechanism.
  • With multimedia power users in mind, USB, FireWire I/O, audio ports allow multimedia expansive applications.
  • The PSU bay has easy installation system that utilizes a rubber roller system that makes it easy for the heavy PSU to slide in and out. The rubber roller system also helps dampen vibration noise for reduction in overall noise.
  • With external liquid cooling systems in mind, the rear panel has rubberized ports for tubing.
  • Handles for easy side panel removal.
  • With choice of black or titanium for outer panels and the side panels utilizing anodization and hairline processes for a high quality finish.
  • The combination of the side panel aluminum with the rounded front gives the GS1000 an original look.
  • With cable routing integrated throughout the case, the GS1000 offers solutions for clean cable management.
  • With stability and design in mind, the GS1000’s feet are of form and function.
  • The PCI expansion slot is coated for durability and to prevent corrosion. Functional touches add an element of high quality design.
  • The 4 5.25” external bays come with 2 in 1 brackets, which allow both FDD and HDD to be installed.
  • The GS1000 supports up to 8 hard disks, 6 of which supports the hot swap module (3 are optional).
  • E-ATX, Standard ATX and Micro ATX are supported. +1000W PSU’s can be used.
  • A total of 7 PCI expansion slots are available.

 

Specs

 

Closer Look - Outside:

The front of the GS1000 is unique and has a nice look in my opinion.  The front bezel is made from plastic, but looks and feels quite solid.  The fronts of the drive bays have an aluminum insert that makes the front of the case look very classy.  To gain access to your Hard Drives, press the top of these sections and it will open with a soft-eject mechanism which drops the cover down slowly.  It looks very slick and works very well.

 HDD Bays
HDD Bays

 

The rear of the case isn't quite as impressive, but it is well-designed as well.  The PSU mounts in the bottom of the case and slides in or a pseudo-rail system that makes installation very easy.  The case is fitted with a 120mm exhaust fan and comes equipped with a couple of rubber grommets that allow for external water cooling solutions to be used.  You can also glimpse the side panel handles.  They are plastic and attach securely to the aluminum side panels making for easy removal.

Rear Of Case
Rear Of Case

 

The top of the case houses a pair of USB2.0 ports, a firewire port, and the standard headphone/microphone jacks.  They are concealed by a plastic cover that flips back and remains out of the way when open. The bottom of the case is well ventilated and allows for mounting a pair of 120mm fans in order to provide better airflow in the case.  My beef with these is that Zalman hasn't included a mesh filter in order to keep dust out of the case.

 Top Ports
Top Ports
Bottom Ventilation
Bottom Ventilation

 

On the next page we'll take a closer look at the inside of the GS1000.


Closer Look - Inside:

The GS1000 has nice clean lines on the outside of the case and while some may not like the glossy black plastic top of the case in contrast to the brushed aluminum side panels, I like the look of this case as it's wandered a bit away from the super square looks of the GT1000 and GT900.  As we remove the side panel and take a look inside, I found a very nice feature that is worth mentioning.  The side panels use non-removable thumbscrews that work very well.  You can't lose these, drop them, or have someone else steal them for their case.  I'm a fan of these screws for sure.

Side Panel Screws
Side Panel Screws

 

One of the features that Zalman touts with this case is good cable management.  Just in front of the motherboard tray there are a bunch of holes cut for routing cables through.  What is a large bonus here is that there are a bunch of these holes and that they have the edges protected with a rubber strip.  This prevents injury to your fingers and of course the cables that will make their home through these.  The only two fans installed in the case are exhaust fans and they are located at the top and back of the case.  Zalman is using negative case pressure here to cool down the components - namely the Hard Drives which we'll get to in a few moments.

 

 Side Off
Side Off
 Top & Rear Ventilation
Top & Rear Ventilation

 

Front Inside

The inside front of the case is very clean and has some things worth mentioning.  The top four 5.25" bays are tool-less and use the same spring loaded non-removable thumbscrews that the side panels use.  This is great for standard devices like optical drives but other non-standard units may have to use screws.  Zalman has provided slows and holes for screws to be used if required.

The GS1000 is designed to hold six HDDs in tool-less bays as well.  The top three bays support IDE or SATA drives and secure the drives through rubber supported pins that keep the drives mounted securely in an anti-vibration tray.  These are removed from the front of the case and click securely in place.

The three lower hard drive racks are designed for SATA drives only and use the same mounting rack that the top bays use.  What makes these different and SATA only is the hot-swap backplane that the drives plug into.  This backplane requires power from a pair of 4-pin molex connectors and takes your consumer gaming chassis to the realm of enterprise class servers with tool-less, hot-swap HDDs.  Of course if you plan to use the hot-swap feature, you'll need a motherboard that supports swapping drives on the fly as well.

The top three HDD bays can accept the hot-swap module if you need to have all six bays hot-swappable.  The beauty of these bays is that you can pull a drive and rebuild a RAID 1, RAID 5 or RAID 10 array without shutting down your system.  The bays are built to exacting specification and I had no issues using them with Western Digital, Seagate, Samsung or Hitachi SATA drives.

 

 Hot Swap HDD
 Hot Swap HDD
Hot Swap Backplane
Hot Swap Backplane

 

SATA HDD installation is as simple as releasing the clips on the bottom of the rack then dropping in the drive, lining up the pins and squeezing the rack back together.  Once the drive is securely in the rack, it slides into the drive rail and clips in place interfacing perfectly with the SATA hot-swap backplane.

HDD In Tray
HDD In Tray
HDD Installation
HDD Installation

 

On the next page we'll continue with system installation and see how the GS1000 holds up.


System Installation:

Although the GS1000 from Zalman doesn't have a removable motherboard tray, there is plenty of room to work inside this case and it really isn't a problem.  Because the hard drives slide in from the front and the optical drives are above the PCIe slots of the motherboard, installing long graphics cards won't be a problem.  There is ample room between the motherboard and the front drive racks to support even the longest graphics cards available today.

Board Installed
Board Installed

 

There are a few cases now that place the PSU at the bottom of the chassis, there are several reasons for this and some designs are implemented better than others.  Zalman has include a plate the attaches to your PSU and then the PSU can be slid in on a couple of rollers.  Traditional thumbscrews are used to keep it in place.  It works very well, and there is even a folding handle that allows you to grab on and remove the PSU easily.

 PSU Inbound
PSU Inbound
 PSU Installed
PSU Installed

 

With the PSU in place, the cables can be routed through the provide holes in the extended motherboard tray which keeps them out of sight and out of the way.  The only issue with this bottom-mounted PSU and some motherboards becomes the location of the 24-pin power connector.  Many new motherboards have this located to the right of the DDR slots, but our test board - the ASRock A770 Crossfire has the power connector located at the top left of the board and this can cause some cabling issues.  This isn't really a fault with the case, the length of the PSU cables or the motherboard specifically.  It's just something that needs to be observed if you want to maximize the cable management.

Cables Done
Cables Done

 

The GS1000 is Zalman's first "Cheap" full tower case.  This is the successor to their original TNN (Totally No Noise) cases that were super expensive as well as their premium GT series.  The GS1000 is a pretty well finished product and includes thumbscrews for Side Panels, Optical Drives PCI slots and PSU removal.  You'll need a screwdriver to mount the motherboard and the PSU to the bracket, but other than that it's tool-less.  There is a single power button located at the top middle of the front bezel - giving the case a cycloptic appearance in low light.  There is neither a reset button present nor HDD activity LEDs.  The Hot-Swap bays provide steady LED indicators when the drives are installed, but don't indicate drive activity.

Front & Back Running
Front & Back Running

 

Final Thoughts:

Overall, I'm pretty happy with the GS1000 case from Zalman.  It comes in about half the price of the GT1000 and has improved upon several issues that we discovered with the previous case.  Zalman has included PCI slot covers, thumbscrews and a great cable management system in this unit.  They have also provided great vibration absorbing HDD racks.  Better still, half of these racks include hot-swap SATA connectors.  It's a thing of beauty when you can pull a bad drive from your RAID 5 array and rebuild the array on the fly without powering down your system, pulling out a screwdriver or opening a chassis.  In my opinion, the hot-swap bays are the best feature about this case.


The plastic racks though do post a bit of an issue.  There is no active cooling on the HDDs with the stock fans and if you have the side of your case off, the airflow pattern in this case is destroyed.  During testing, I had the side panel off, and the front HDD cover closed and checked my HDD temperature and discovered that the drives were approaching 60°C when rebuilding a RAID array!  I immediately added a fan to the drives and cooled them down.  Even though this seems ridiculous, I considered the airflow pattern that Zalman designed.  The case has two 120mm exhaust fans - no intake fans.  The airflow is designed to pull in fresh air past the drives, through the system and out the top and back of the case.  With the side panel on, I discovered that HDD temperature remained in the mid 40°C - much better than with the panel off.  Please, please keep this in mind when operating this case.

Pros:

  • Sleek design with aluminum frame and side panels
  • Externally accessible HDDs
  • Three hot-swap SATA bays
  • Support for six HDDs
  • Ample room for installation and long graphics cards
  • Non-removable thumbscrews on side panels and ODD bays
  • Excellent cable management ideas

 

Cons:

  • No dust filters on intake fan areas
  • No active cooling on HDD area - could be an issue to 10,000rpm SATA drives

 

You may feel that this case is expensive at $200 for a aluminum/plastic case mix, but I feel that the value is well deserved as the hot-swap option is worth the extra money.  If you were to buy three 5.25" - 3.5" Hot Swap SATA racks, you'd easily be spending $30 each.  I wish that Zalman would offer the extra Hot-Swap backplane as an available option though.  Six Hot-Swap drives would be awesome.

 BCCRating

 Top Pick

 

I'd like to thank ZalmanUSA for sending this case over for us to review.  If you have any questions or comments, please head on over and post those in the forum at the "Comments" link below.