Zalman's HD135 HTPC case: Gasping for air

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There's no shortage of space inside the HD135. With the exception of the drive bays at the front, it's basically just an empty box with a lot of randomly distributed holes in the side.

The photo below shows the strange positioning of the exhaust fan behind the power supply and above the motherboard. Visualize the intake fan on the top panel in more or less the center of the photo, and you'll understand just how limited the airflow in the HD135 is. Assuming a direct path between intake and exhaust, the CPU is the only component in the airflow path.

Plenty of space inside.

Plenty of room for drives, too.

One of the HD135's claims to fame is its large amount of drive bays, which Zalman has achieved by packing the drives into the front half of the case as tightly as possible. Counting the "external" 3.5" bay, there are actually a total of seven 3.5" bays: Three in each of the front corners, and one more underneath the optical bay in the middle.

Realistically speaking, the maximum number of drives that can be safely installed is probably four, using the top and bottom slots in each of the two corner bays. The middle slot should be left open to allow air to circulate around the drives, and some means of pulling air through the thoughtfully placed vents that surround the drive bays should be devised.

There's open vents surrounding the drive bays...

The drive bays are a step forward beyond the HD160 for ease of use, and a step backward for noise. All of the drive bays (optical bay included) are bayonet mounted and are secured with a single, easily accessible screw. Drives can be installed in the bays outside of the case, and then quickly slipped in with minimal fuss. The downside is that the HD135 lacks the foam padding from the HD160 which, while not perfect, did help reduce vibration noise from the drives.

...but the bays themselves are too packed to allow air to flow between the drives.

All drive bays are bayonet mounted for ease of removal.

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