Zalman fanless case review

Enclosures and acoustic damping to help quiet them.

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Ginta
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Zalman fanless case review

Post by Ginta » Thu Jan 15, 2004 12:57 pm

1st review I've seen on the net for this.
http://www.tomshardware.com/howto/20040115/index.html
Expensive like hell, but it proves it can be done at least.

miker
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Post by miker » Thu Jan 15, 2004 1:20 pm

Tom's need some instructions on proper lighting for pictures inside a case. I can't see shit in half those pics.

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Post by Ralf Hutter » Thu Jan 15, 2004 1:22 pm

miker wrote:Tom's need some instructions on proper lighting for pictures inside a case. I can't see shit in half those pics.
Tom's need some instructions on computers in general.

lenny
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Post by lenny » Thu Jan 15, 2004 1:30 pm

Well, the most important parts of the article:

Price : $1,400 (ouch!)

Works with a P4 2.8C, ATI 9800 Pro and Seagate ST3120023AS under stress. But no mention of room temperature.

I recall reading about someone who tested a system outdoors in the balcony when it was -12C outside, to see how far they can overclock an ATI 9800XP. At that kind of ambient temperature I'm sure I don't need a case that cost more than the rest of the system combined :-)

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Post by miker » Thu Jan 15, 2004 1:37 pm

MOre important is what's missing. I still can't tell if only certain types of motherboard will fit, or will anything ATX fit in there? How does the CPU heatpipe adjust to fit a differently placed socket? Stuff like that.

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Post by MikeC » Thu Jan 15, 2004 3:07 pm

The big question about this case is:

Where's the market!? :shock:

Let's face it: If you have any sense of aesthetics, you will NOT want this monster in your office, your LR, certainly not your bedroom. It's a huge ugly industrial looking thing. Russ saw it at CES, too, and he'll concur with me, I am sure. :wink:

The Zalman folks admitted to me -- and lots of others -- that it's a limited market -- they figure servers. Servers?? They're put away in a closet or computer machineery room with the door shut tight, with airconditioning on 24/7. Who'll pay that kind of money for silence in a machine that doesn't need to be?

Don't get me wrong -- I like Zalman products, I admire the ingenuity and effectiveness of lots of their products, and their stick-to-it zeal through what I am sure were tough teething years. But this to me is not a winning product. It's almost like somebody had too much time on their hands and no perception of users' realities.

PS -- finally, I don't believe it can even be truly silent -- because I have played around with their HDD heatpipe silencer, and the rubber they use on those things is just too hard to damp the HDD vibrations properly. This means the whole case has to be humming at some low level & freq in harmony with the HDD.

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Post by lenny » Thu Jan 15, 2004 3:38 pm

MikeC wrote:Where's the market!? :shock:

Let's face it: If you have any sense of aesthetics, you will NOT want this monster in your office, your LR, certainly not your bedroom.
Good point, Mike. And definitely not on top of the desk like Tom's suggested. Not unless you have a really large, strong desk anyway. And live in an earthquake free zone.

I guess they can always improve on the aesthetics. Think of the possibilities - a passively cooled HTPC disguised as a coffee table that can warm up your coffee :-)

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Post by Trip » Thu Jan 15, 2004 3:42 pm

lenny wrote:Good point, Mike. And definitely not on top of the desk like Tom's suggested. Not unless you have a really large, strong desk anyway. And live in an earthquake free zone.
:lol: imagine that think rolling off onto you!

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Post by Rusty075 » Thu Jan 15, 2004 3:47 pm

As Mike said, I did get to see and touch this thing at CES. Actually I touched it enough that they asked me to stop messing with it.

This thing is the computer equivalent of a concept car. It's full of a variety of interesting technologies, but no one will actually buy it. Unlike automotbile companies, who are used to the idea of building (and writing off the expense of) concept models, Zalman has no choice but to at least try to sell the thing.

Here's my mini-review:

Pro's

The PSU. Totally new form factor. The shell measures maybe 9" by 9" by 1" thick, and it's mounted against the case side. A peek through its vents revealed that the mosfets are attached to the side of the case, not the PCB. This has trickle-down potential.

The CPU/GPU cooling systems. Basically, it's a more polished version of Fred's homebrew heatpipe cooler. Exactly the same concept. It looks like there is some flexibility in the system; the heatblocks slide up and down on the heatpipes, and the heatpipes slide back in forth through their mounts. But the CPU would have to be singular, and have it's socket at or near the edge of the mobo.

And, um, well.... I like the way it looks. :roll: I think it has a certain industrial aesthetic to it. (Then again, I also like the smell of racing gas and metal filings, so maybe my opinion isn't worth all that much)

Con's

Price.

Weight. It's something like 80lbs fully loaded. (at least it has castors!)

Price

Limited upgradability. The ATX format is in it's golden years. If I were going to drop $1400 on a case, I'd want to be sure that I could use it for years and years to come.

Price

And a few nagging design issues, like the HDD's. The Zalman HDD cooler is added as an afterthought, and it takes up one of the 5.25" bays. The "real" HDD mounts are a series of metal plates that protrude from the case side. Mounting a HDD there would provide no decoupling at all, and would probably make the whole case resonate.

Oh, and Price.

But on the plus side, that price does break down to only $16 per pound. :wink:


Now having said this, I'd still be more than willing to try one of these things out and write a real review of it. Provided that Zalman pays the shipping, obviously.

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Post by NamJangNamJa » Thu Jan 15, 2004 4:32 pm

I would rather live with a crazy 120dB computer than spanding $1400 on a computer case. At $280, I may feel like to buy it in case it is made also for next generation form factor like BTX.

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Post by pdf27 » Thu Jan 15, 2004 4:36 pm

I rather suspect that the money for this case came out of the Zalman PR budget - it has certainly got people talking about it, and got them loads of free advertising, and got their name to the notice of those who hadn't heard of them before.

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Post by MikeC » Thu Jan 15, 2004 4:43 pm

OK, so I was wrong in my assumption about Russ having good taste... ;)

OK, I will even concede that it may have some vaguely industrial appeal for a small segment of the population.

But surely if the HUSH Technologies folks can come up with a sleek, decor/spouse-friendly, complete, high-end, fanless P4 system for ~US$2000 or less, we can expect better than this case only for $1400. I've built 500W stereo power amps in my garage that looked better. :roll:

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Post by ColdFlame » Fri Jan 16, 2004 1:48 am

I might be wrong but I think you guys are missing one important point. At $1,400 they don't expect those things to sell like hot cakes - which means this is just a pioneering project, a proof of an idea.

Zalman is a pioneer in this and let's give them credit - they build a case that dissipates like 100w maybe overall and does not have a single fan. This is very impressive.

I saw it at Comdex and it is not _that_ bad. It is unusual and it looks like some military machinery (to me). In blue it looks pretty good I think.

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Post by GamingGod » Fri Jan 16, 2004 9:23 am

Rusty075 wrote: that price does break down to only $16 per pound. :wink:
Damn thats more per pound than my girlfriend costs me in a month lol

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Post by MikeC » Fri Jan 16, 2004 10:43 am

I agree with everyone that this is mostly a PR & concept effort by Zalman.
Zalman is a pioneer in this and let's give them credit - they build a case that dissipates like 100w maybe overall and does not have a single fan. This is very impressive.
But this I don't really agree with: I am just not that impressed. It actually dissipates a lot more heat -- more like 300W, easily. But they have taken a brute-force approach, which is the thing that I guess irritates me. I think many of us here could make a similar system with similar cosmetics at home in our basements and garages and workshops.

Fmah's CPU heatpipe cooling system shows a big step in that direction. I believe it has more potential as an elegant fanless solution than what Zalman has shown us.

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Post by HammerSandwich » Fri Jan 16, 2004 2:54 pm

MikeC wrote:Where's the market!? :shock:
That's easy! I'm going to build high-end HTPCs in these cases and sell them to everyone who owns Pass Aleph amps.

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Post by elric666 » Sat Jan 17, 2004 7:20 pm

Considering Voodoo PC has started selling a boutique PC using this case, I don't think it is necessarily only a "PR Piece"

I completely agree that this case has a very limited buyer base, but I would probably buy one if I had tonnes of disposable income, if for nothing else then to have the experience.

At least with the Voodoo PC (starting around $5500 CAD) they liven up the huge black exterior with some custom painting.

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Post by Trip » Sat Jan 17, 2004 7:39 pm

bout time for Falcon Northwest to come out with a version. I'll bet they could shine up that beast.

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Post by Justin_R » Sat Jan 17, 2004 11:08 pm

Just look at it this way: if you're really going to go all out and drop big cash on a silent solid-state hard drive, then $1400 for a case to put it in doesn't seem all that bad. :)

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Post by Seal » Sun Jan 18, 2004 7:33 am

That looks hideous, even though its custom made from the ground up, it dosent really look like it would do a substantial job of cooling hard drives and the cpu to a safe level. Not to mention, NO airflow around the processor area = hot running capacitors = blown capacitors. I have had experiences in both of those fields because of watercooling, i didnt provide adequate airflow over that area.

Also its a little ugly. If i had $1400 i could easily make a much better system that qwill be pretty noiseless with my bqe setup, by buying things like a passive radiator for my watercooling, expensive foam, watercooled encased hard drives, that £250 passive psu. All of that kinda stuff would probably make the system quieter than that zalman because the hard drive noise in that system would be quite loud.

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Post by lightforce » Sun Jan 18, 2004 7:46 am

I think it looks like a robot with feet.

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