Zalman MS1000-HS2 Case

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Product: Zalman MS1000-HS2 Tower Case
Provided By: ZalmanUSA
Price: $174.99 Currently

 

Introduction:

It's been almost four months since we've looked at a Zalman case and they've been working on some good stuff since our review of the GS1000 Plus.  Today we have a look at an equally sleek MS1000-HS2 case that offers four 5.25" bays as well as support of SSDs, six hot-swap 3.5" hard drives and a lot more.  This case has some great features that make it stand out from the crowd.  If you've got a few buck to spend and want a great case that will last you for years, keep on reading and see what Zalman has to offer in their latest tower chassis.

 Box Front
Box Front
Rear Side Box
Rear Side Box

 

As you can see above, Zalman kicks things off right with an attractive box that shows off a lot of features of the case.  Right away it should catch the eye of the enthusiast.

 

First Look & Accessories:

Zalman is known first and foremost for their CPU coolers but also has a line of power supplies, water cooling products, cases as well as other accessories.  One thing I appreciate about Zalman is that they don't seem to release new products for the sake of launching new products.  Typically a new product addresses some lack in the previous product or a major enhancement that is worth doing.  The GS1000 Plus was a nice improvement over the original GS1000 and we're hoping that the MS1000-HS2 is a similar story.



 Front HDD Open
Front HDD Open
 Profile
Profile
 Rear Outside Empty
Rear Outside Empty

 

Like other Zalman cases, the MS1000-HS2 arrived in a very large box that looked like it required a two-man lift to load into my pickup.  Thankfully, the box wasn't very heavy, but it certainly was bulky.  Inside the box, surrounded by Styrofoam and shrouded in a protective bag, the MS1000-HS2 arrived safe and sound.  Located at the top of the box was a brow box with a few accessories as well as the case feet.

 Bundle
Bundle

 

As you can see in the image above, the MS1000-HS2 includes a 3.5" to 5.25" drive bay adapter for the old floppy drive, card reader or other 3.5" bay device.  Also pictured above is the standard bag of screws as well as an 8-pin to 4-pin x2 power cable.  This seems more like a PSU or motherboard accessory, but it's included regardless.  Also in the bag with the screws are a bunch of zip-ties for tying your cables out of the way.

 

Features:

After looking at a lot of cases lately that hit well below the $100 price tag, it is nice to look at a high-end case that has a lot of features and design elements that less expensive cases often lack.  That doesn't mean that expensive cases are always better - in fact many times you're paying for brand name or some gimmick.  As we look at the list of features and specifications below, you can decide if this case is gimmicky or if it all about quality.

 

  • Sleek Design
    The modular front bay design differentiates this case, and smooth edges of the chassis add to it’s quality.
  • Cooling Optimized Top and Bottom Vents
    The Internal cooling is designed for hot air inside the system to be expelled as quickly as possible to maintain optimum temperature for stable system operation.
  • Sound Absorbing Pad on the Side Panel
    The sound absorbing pad on the side panel minimizes noise.
  • Tool-Free HDD Installation
    The HDD trays are designed similar to tool-free HDD trays on servers for easy installation and maintenance.
  • Modular Front HDD/ODD Bays
    The 3-In-1 modular front HDD/ODD Bay can be raised or lowered according to the user’s preference.
  • Spacious 300mm Front to Back Interior for Convenient System Installation
    Large internal case interior provides ample working space for easy installation and maintenance.
  • Cable Compartment for Neat Cable Management
    The dedicated cable compartment enables neat and easy cable routing without obstructing the airflow within the enclosure for stable system operation.
  • Dust Filter Prevents Dust Entering the Case
    The intake vent under the enclosure is fitted with a removable, washable dust filter that helps in maintaining preferable conditions within the system.
  • Hot-Swap Enabled HDD Bays
    HDD Hot-Swap is supported, for convenient installation/ removal/ maintenance, and vibration is minimized by vibration damping silicone rings.
  • Multi-Bay Device Installation Support
    Two or three multi-bay device installation is supported including other manufacturers’ multi-bay components.
  • SSD (Solid State Drive ) Support
    The included SSD mounting bracket accommodates two 2.5” SSDs. ※ The SSD mounting bracket installs in the 5.25” bay.
  • One Touch HDD Bay Cover
    The HDD Bay Cover opens with one press for convenient access and maintenance of HDDs.
  • Convenient Peripheral Connection I/O Ports
    Convenient I/O Ports with 2 USB/ 1 e-SATA/ 1 Headphones/ 1 Mic accommodate a variety of peripheral components.
  • Tube Holes for Liquid Cooling Systems
    For water cooling users, tube holes are provided at the rear of the case for convenient water cooling set-up and maintenance.
  • Nickel Coated PCI Card Holder
    The PCI Card Holder is nickel-plated for corrosion-free long-term use.
  • Vibration Absorbing Base
    The Chassis is raised on rubber mounted ‘feet’ that prevent resonant vibration and protect the system from possible liquid spills.


Specifications:

 Specs

 

Closer Look:

As we start looking at this case closer, we can see that Zalman did a pretty good job paying attention to detail.  I only find one major issue with this case as we take a look around the inside.  First up, a few pictures of the outside:

Top Ports
Top Ports
Top View
Top View
   
 HDD Rack
HDD Rack
 Bottom Intake Filter
Bottom Intake Filter

 

On the next page we'll take a closer look at the inside of the case before we drop our test system inside and see how installation goes.


Closer Look - Inside:

While it is certainly important that the outside of the case has some appeal, it is also very important that the inside of the case is well laid out and functional.  As we take a closer look inside the MS1000-HS2, I think you'll find that Zalman did a lot of stuff right inside this case.

The case doesn't have a removable motherboard tray, but as you can see with the side panel off - there is a lot of room inside this chassis.  One thing that I have really come to like and expect on every case is a hole in the motherboard tray for CPU back plate installation.  Zalman doesn't disappoint and they've included this on their MS1000 series as well.



 Side Off Empty
Side Off Empty
 Hole in Mobo Tray
Hole in Mobo Tray
   
 Near-side Panel
Near-side Panel
 Off-side Panel
Off-side Panel

 

The side panels correspond with the images directly above them.  The side panel that sites on the "outside" side of the case has noise dampening material on it and this should help vibration and noise transfer outside of the case.  Strangely enough, the motherboard side doesn't have the same treatment.  I guess they believe that there is not much sound on the motherboard side of the case, but I would have liked to see some consistency - if only to make the consumer feel better.

 

 

As we take a closer look inside, we find that the layout is clean with no sharp edges to be found.  The top and rear of the case is where the majority of the exhaust ventilation is taken care of as fresh air is draw in through the front HDD bays.  Although Zalman has included a pair of hot-swap HDD modules for a total of six hot-swap drives, they only include a fan on one of these modules.  This is about the only real drawback in the system that I see.  If you use more than three drives, the drives in the top rack will get hot as they sit in plastic HDD racks.  Also, this limits the amount of fresh air pulled into the case - as it now relies heavily on negative air pressure.

 Top & Rear Fans
Top & Rear Fans
 Front Empty
Front Empty
Rear Empty
Rear Empty

 

The PCI slot screws sit outside the chassis and are protected by a metal plate that is secured with a thumbscrew.  This makes card installation easy and although the design is a little different, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with it.  The PCI cards are held in place by standard screws (not thumbscrews) making motherboard and expansion card installation require a screwdriver.

On the next page we'll go over installation and wrap things up with some final thoughts.


System Installation:

Although the MS1000-HS2 from Zalman doesn't have a removable motherboard tray (neither does the GS1000 Series), there is still plenty of room to work inside this case. The layout of the case and drives is quite good and with the hard drives sliding in from the front, there will not be any issues installing long cards in this case.  There is ample room between the motherboard and the front drive racks to support even the longest graphics cards available today.

Most systems that claim to support a lot of hard drives do so with a lot of clutter.  As you could see on the previous page, all of the power and SATA connections sit along the motherboard side of these racks and this makes installing a lot of hard drives simple and relatively clutter-free.  The HDD racks are pretty decent and the mechanism for installing drives into these racks is quite handy.  The HDD pins are spring loaded and are secured by sliding a "switch" into the locked position when the drive is in place.  We dug up enough drives to populate all of the racks for a money shot as you can see below.

 HDD Racks
HDD Racks
HDDs In Racks
HDDs In Racks

 

As you can see above, the HDD Racks have silicon washers that help isolate HDD vibration and keep it from translating to the case and making the system noisy.  Optical drive installation relies on the same mechanism, but doesn't have the same silicon washers.  To keep your drives cool, Zalman has incorporated 3-pin fan connectors right into the HDD hot-swap modules that have low and high settings so you can determine the amount of cooling vs. noise.  The only other 92mm fan I had was an old Thermaltake fan that uses a regular 4-pin Molex connector, so it was always on "high".

 

With the PSU in place, the cables can be routed through the provided holes in the motherboard tray and this helps keep them out of sight and out of the way.  If you have a motherboard with a rear-mounted 24-pin connector, this may not work, but most motherboards today have the main power connector located at the top right corner and this makes for a nice tidy system - even with a lot of drives, fans and temperature probes.  You can see in the picture below that there is a lot of room between the end of the 8800GT and the front of the case.  This is good news for all of you graphics card junkies.  There is ample room from long cards and the reason the case looks a little cluttered is because of the 7 SATA cables that are required to hook up all the drives and the external eSATA connection.

 Six Drive System
Six Drive System
 Installed
Installed

 

When the cover is on the case, it is actually pretty quiet.  The silicon washers really help minimize drive noise as all six drives spin up and would normally add a fair amount of noise to the system.  The 120mm exhaust fans are quiet and the loudest fan in the whole case is the add-in Thermaltake 92mm fan on the second HDD module.  It is much quieter that my Core i7 system running CrossfireX and PhysX and I'm hoping to move that system into this case for a demo later this month.

 



Conclusion:

Installed & Running While there is a lot to like with the Zalman MS1000-HS2, there are a couple of things that bug me a little bit with this case.  As previously mentioned, the lack of fan on the second HDD module makes drives installed in that bay a little too warm for my liking.  Granted, many users will not use more than three drives, but for the cost of a single fan, I believe Zalman should have stepped up and provided one with this case.  Also, the HDD racks are plastic and seem a bit flimsy.  When trying to hot-swap a 640GB Seagate drive, I actually pulled the lever off and the spring shot across the shop.   I managed to find it and put it back together without issues, but new drives seem tight and you will have to take care when removing them.

I understand that this case is only ~$175 and has a lot of features that would have cost well over $300 last year.  For instance, cheap hot-swap HDD bays can cost $25 each and this case has six (6 *$25 = $150).  Those alone could drive the price of the case through the roof, but Zalman has priced it very aggressively - for what you get.

Overall, the case is a winner as the value for a case like this is off the chart.  It still has room for improvement and I'd rather spend $200 on a case that has slightly better HDD racks and an extra fan, than save $25 - overheat my drives and break the racks.

Pros: 

  • Lots of hot-swap HDD bays
  • Nice tool-less installation for all drives 
  • Sound dampening HDD racks and side panel
  • Support for long graphics cards
  • Good cable management
  • Great value for the money

 

Cons:

  • Sound dampening is hit and miss in areas
  • HDD racks are cheap and could break easily
  • Only three HDDs have active cooling
  BCCRating
 
Gold

 

I'd like to thank Zalman for firing over the MS1000-HS2 for us to review.  If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to post them in the forum at the "Comments" link below.