Zalman HD160 Home Theater PC Enclosure

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May 17, 2005 by Mike Chin

Product
HD160 Home Theater PC Enclosure
Manufacturer
Zalman Tech Co. Ltd.
MSRP
US$250~300

Zalman's first entry into the growing HTPC case market is an unabashedly high end affair. The HD160 identifies its lofty sights with all-aluminum construction, front panel VFD display with MCE remote control, a prominent front panel volume control knob, and a fat price tag to match it all. That Zalman would aim high is no surprise; the company's other cases are the no-holds-barred fanless TNN 500 and TNN 300 models, which we've reviewed. Unlike the "exoskeleton heatsink" TNN cases made by this silent computing pioneer, the Zalman HD160 is much more conventional, though it is still designed with low noise operation as a primary goal.

The HD160 comes in a retail merchandizing box. The case itself is packed with two closed-cell foam end caps for shock protection.


Packaged for retail merchandising.


The Zalman HD160 looks like a high end A/V component.

The all-aluminum case is available in natural brushed aluminum, as our sample was, or in anodized black. The unit is quite light, just 4.8 kg. No power supply is included, but there are several accessories.


Remote Control, Install CD, Optical Disk Cover, Batteries, ATX Power Cable Adapter, Other cables and screws, User’s Manual

The case is built close to the "4U" standard, standing 7" tall, and 6.25" without its feet. "U" refers to server rack mount sizing, 1U = 1.75". It doesn't suffer much from the "too chunky" look. Some of the really ambitious cases such as the Lian Li PC-V880, or Thermaltake Tenor/Bach are over 4U height, which gives them the sumo wrestler look.

Published Zalman HD160 Specifications
Enclosure Dimensions 435mm X 420mm X 160mm (L*W*H)
Net Weight 4.8kg
CPU TDP Up to 130W for Quiet Cooling
Construction Material All Aluminum
Motherboard Compatibility ATX & microATX
PSU Support ATX PSU
PCI/AGP Card Support Full Size
Drive Bays 4 X 3.5" Internal Drive Bays
1 X 3.5" External Drive Bay
1 X 5.25" External Drive Bay
Cooling Components 2 X 80mm Rear Exhaust Fans
ZM-MC1 Multi Connector
Expansion Slots 7 Slots
Front I/O Ports 2 X USB Ports
1 X Firewire (1394) Ports
1 X MIC
1 X Headphone
Available Colors Silver & Black
Card Reader 17(sic) in 1

Among the key features listed for the Zalman HD160:

Key Features of the Zalman HD160
Zalman's Statements Our Comments
All Aluminum Based Chassis - The entire chassis consists of aluminum unlike other enclosures that solely use aluminum for the front panel.

But is all-aluminum better? We don't think so: Aluminum Myth.

Optimized Ventilation and Cooling Good.
Excellent Expandability - The 5.25" and 3.5" exposed bays along with the four 3.5” internal bays provide plenty of expansion room. The push-open door style front I/O panel houses two USB ports, 1394 port, MIC and headphone jacks. Good.
VFD & Remote Control - The VFD displays the PC’s operation status while the remote control provides convenient access to various media. Good.
Energy Conservation - The HD160 can be operated at minimum fan speed with Zalman's silent cooling solutions, consuming less power than regular systems. Surely it's only a watt or two!
User Friendly Components - USB 2.0 ports, 1394 , MIC, headphone and built-in flash memory reader supporting seventeen types of cards.
- Remote control for enabling multimedia software operation and control.
- Convenient volume knob.
OK.
PCI/AGP Card Support Full Size
Drive Bays 4 X 3.5" Internal Drive Bays
1 X 3.5" External Drive Bay
1 X 5.25" External Drive Bay
Cooling Components 2 X 80mm Rear Exhaust Fans
ZM-MC1 Multi Connector
Expansion Slots 7 Slots
Front I/O Ports 2 X USB Ports
1 X Firewire (1394) Ports
1 X MIC
1 X Headphone
Available Colors Silver & Black
Card Reader 17 in 1

Zalman offers some performance data on their website to indicate the cooling capability of the HD160. Their test system was a fairly minimalist config: Intel Pentium D 830 processor, an ATI X700Pro vidcard, and the standard complement of PSU, HDD, and optical. drive. A Zalman 9500CU cooled the CPU, and a Zalman VF700 cooled the video card, both at 5V. The voltage of the exhaust fans is not shown, however, nor are any noise measurements given. The temperature results shown are thus not that useful (and reporting the temperatures to a hundredth of a degree seems absurd given the inherent vagaries of temperature measurements.)

Zalman's Own Test Results
CPU
VGA
System
PSU
Room
57.42°C
52.59°C
35.31°C
32.51°C
30°C


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