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 Post subject: Zalman's HD135 HTPC case: Gasping for air
PostPosted: Fri Dec 29, 2006 5:34 pm 
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Zalman's HD135 HTPC case: Gasping for air


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2006 11:28 pm 
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Another poorly executed case from Zalman (with respect to airflow). I could have said many things, but this case is just sad. I'll take an NSK2400 any day, thanks.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 01, 2007 5:29 am 
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Can't you change the direction of intake and exhaustfans and see if that does any difference?


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 01, 2007 11:13 am 
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McBanjo wrote:
Can't you change the direction of intake and exhaust fans and see if that does any difference?

Highly likely to make any difference. Both in/out grills are terribly restrictive -- probably only 40% of the potential area is actually open.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 01, 2007 12:37 pm 
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It's a shame a company with a good name, and some good products, can release a real dog like this thing. It looks like it would work ok after some cutting, but why? Who wants to cut up an expensive case, just to see if it can be made to work? There are plenty of people posting on SPCR who could look at this case and see all the flaws without touching it. Sad....

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 01, 2007 1:08 pm 
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It is surprising to see the Zalman company risking all their goodwill on their latest offerings. The review is thorough and the conclusions seem fair to me. It is a real shame though because the looks are very good.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 01, 2007 3:48 pm 
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I hate to see computer parts that are designed by the marketroids and not the engineers (P4 anyone). This looks exactly like the Intel P4 line of processors, easy to sell because MHz is the only way to make a processor faster.

This case looks like exactly the same thing happened to it, give it a good baseline spec and pray that no-one reviews it.

6 Drive bays, low profile, looks nice.......... cooks computers.

Zalman needs to sack the marketing people and hire some engineers because that case is utter crap.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 01, 2007 11:57 pm 
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Pretty much as I feared. http://www.silentpcreview.com/forums/vi ... ight=hd135 contain some observations and a potential HDD suspension mod, but it looks like SPCR have proved that the foundation is so poor that it might prove too fruitless an exercise.

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Last edited by kojak71 on Tue Jan 02, 2007 3:15 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Zalman's HD135 HTPC case: Gasping for air
PostPosted: Tue Jan 02, 2007 3:13 am 
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In the article
Devonavar wrote:
The HD135 supports six internal drives — three more than the HD160. This clashes with our preference for using network storage in a noise-sensitive media center PC


How I would love to do that, but last time I checked MCE2005 can't record to a network drive. It can record to other external devices such as USB2, Firewire or eSate, just not network drives. If anyone knows a way around this, my ears would be grateful.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jan 02, 2007 12:27 pm 
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(!) ??? I didn't know that. Why on earth not? I was under the impression that if you map a network drive to a drive letter, it is functionally identical to a standard storage device.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jan 02, 2007 9:01 pm 
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tempeteduson wrote:
Another poorly executed case from Zalman (with respect to airflow). I could have said many things, but this case is just sad. I'll take an NSK2400 any day, thanks.


This is BY FAR the BEST LOOKING HTPC case ive ever seen. FINALLY someone decided to goto best buy and look at what REAL A/V equipment looks like and design a case to match them.

I had high hopes for silverstonetek, but they always managed to F*** up the front faceplate of every case they did that made it stand out like a sore thumb.

Another big plus, its mostly empty inside, allowing you to do pretty much anything you want to it. Add custom ducting, sound proofing etc etc.

Yeah the lack of proper fan mounting is a downer, but its not a huge deal. Theres other ways to mount a fan and have it still look proffesional. Ive used rubbery types of glue to put fans on before that do well to isolate vibrations and give a proffesional install look.

With the power supply completely isolated from the case, you could easily put an inaudible nexus undervolted in there and never have to worry about it, long as you kept max power draw around 200w or less. So zero noise from a PSU.

Put a passive video card in. Zero noise from a video card.

Put a 2.5" notebook drive in. Basically inaudible and easily suspended and dampened in this case.

Only thing left is the CPU. Put a mobil processor in there and you could use a large passive heatpipe heatsink and run it completely passive.

I'd probably do 2x 5volted nexus fans. One on the front/right, and one at the rear/left. side to side case airflow right across the passivly cooled CPU and Video card.


Total System Fans: 3x Nexus @ 5-7volts
Ive listened to a system with 3x nexus fans undervolted, you cant hear it at all.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------

As ive said many many times. CASES DO NOT MAKE NOISE! just because the reviewer didnt have enough forsight to figure out how to make it an AWSOME completely inaudible HTPC doesnt mean it sucks.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2007 12:31 am 
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I own this case and other than the very bad choice of cooling fans placement/noise/airflow I love it.

After reading this great review I will try to mount a nexus 120mm fan as shown on the review.

It’s unclear to me though if the top panel 80mm fan is replaced with a 120mm fan will help in any way.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2007 1:36 am 
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I'm wondering why the D.Vine 5 HTPC case (also reviewed by SPCR) got such a rave review while the Zalman didn't? The two cases are pretty similar except that the Zalman has more ventillation and hdd mounting options. The D.Vine pretty much has NO ventillation. Despite the poor review I will probably go ahead and buy the Zalman. With a few simple mods cooling should be more than adequate... not to mention the great looks.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2007 3:18 am 
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I think the point to be made here is that this case will probably overheat if fitted with normal computer parts likely to be installed by end users. A couple of 3.5" drives, a moderately hot video card, a less than stellar HSF on a moderately hot CPU..... recipe for disappointment and overheating.

This case will not be marketed as a specialty case with specific guidelines for internal components. The number of HD slots proves as such.....

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2007 4:54 am 
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Bluefront wrote:
I think the point to be made here is that this case will probably overheat if fitted with normal computer parts likely to be installed by end users. A couple of 3.5" drives, a moderately hot video card, a less than stellar HSF on a moderately hot CPU..... recipe for disappointment and overheating.

This case will not be marketed as a specialty case with specific guidelines for internal components. The number of HD slots proves as such.....


honestly i could care less how they market it. the marketing department doesnt design cases. they probably looked at the front of it and thought "mainstream" and didnt even think that it might be better suited to a DIY crowd.

poor marketing doesnt make a product bad.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2007 10:09 am 
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mz4coupe wrote:
I'm wondering why the D.Vine 5 HTPC case (also reviewed by SPCR) got such a rave review while the Zalman didn't?


Mostly because our standards have raised since the D.Vine was reviewed in 2003 (that was before my time). Also, the market for HTPC cases and quiet components in general has exploded since that time. It's much easier to build a cool, quiet HTPC now than it was four years ago.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2007 3:37 pm 
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Aris wrote:
As ive said many many times. CASES DO NOT MAKE NOISE! just because the reviewer didnt have enough forsight to figure out how to make it an AWSOME completely inaudible HTPC doesnt mean it sucks.


Fair enough, but cases can isolate noise, and they should be laid out in a manner that helps cool the components within. With $300 on the line, I'd expect more thermal engineering to have taken place.

The problem with this case is not that is has the potential to be a good HTPC case, but that it isn't without modification. When I buy a case for $300, it should be pretty darn good as is. Look at the NSK2400 or the P180 - both are excellent products in what they do, and are well worth their respective cost. Value per dollar isn't very high for the HD135 as it comes.

It's the same type of arguments that SPCR tries to take with system reviews. We recieve the package, install it as per instructions, and see how it performs. Pre-made systems are not meant for the DIY'ers, and as such, we don't do it ourselves. ;)

If you're limited to the components that you can safely install in this case without fear of overheating, then that should also be specified along with the product. I'd hate to take a P4D Prescott and shove it in this system... It puts out more power than the X2 5000+ that we tested.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2007 4:01 pm 
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Out of the box it will be way too loud for a HTPC, so its not a good product as it is. The thing is they could easily have made the case to accept some 120mm fans, and make it both a lot cooler and more quiet. Or even some better and more smartly placed 80mm fans.

Now if i was building a HTPC i would definately consider this just because it looks good. And i could make it quiet with some modification. But that's not the point with a review, unless it focuses on how to mod a new 300$ case to work properly.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2007 6:01 pm 
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nici wrote:
Out of the box it will be way too loud for a HTPC, so its not a good product as it is. The thing is they could easily have made the case to accept some 120mm fans, and make it both a lot cooler and more quiet. Or even some better and more smartly placed 80mm fans.


Out of the box any case can run too loud/hot with the wrong components. Anyone building a DIY HTPC and reading an article on a website like 'Silent PC Review' should have some understanding of building a silent, well cooled PC. Its not rocket science. And mounting 120mm fans into the Zalman would take almost no work at all.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2007 6:18 pm 
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Quote:
Out of the box any case can run too loud/hot with the wrong components. Anyone building a DIY HTPC and reading an article on a website like 'Silent PC Review' should have some understanding of building a silent, well cooled PC. Its not rocket science. And mounting 120mm fans into the Zalman would take almost no work at all.


By the same token you can do the same to just about any HTPC on the market, so the Zalman is unremarkable in that regard; and honestly it does not look any different to me than all the other grey boxes on the market (in particular it looks very similar to Silverstone's LC16m). Given that it is not cheap either, what is there in particular about it that is exceptionally good?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2007 6:20 pm 
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mz4coupe wrote:
Out of the box any case can run too loud/hot with the wrong components. Anyone building a DIY HTPC and reading an article on a website like 'Silent PC Review' should have some understanding of building a silent, well cooled PC. Its not rocket science. And mounting 120mm fans into the Zalman would take almost no work at all.

This does not change the fact that it's a poorly designed case from a functional thermal / airflow / acoustics point of view. Our expectation as reviewers is that as the consumer pays more money, he should get better performance. Here, you get a case that MUST be modded to even work modestly well with a big portion of likely components. I call that bad design and bad value for $300.

Lots of people come to SPCR with no previous exposure to either modding or even the concept of making a PC quieter. They realize that they're tired of noisy computers and wonder if it's possible to get a quiet one and do a search -- lo & behond, SPCR comes up repeatedly in web searches, they start reading. Active forum participants represent probably 5-10% of the main site's readership. Hence, there is indeed a need and responsibility to review products AS IS for the steady flow of newbies that read our reviews.

I sincerely believe this case was not designed by engineers, but by marketing people who provided a check list of desirable attributes to the OEM/ODM supplier. The supplier simply delivered what was asked. The customer is always right.

This also suggests, to me, a change in Zalman from earlier days. Even up to the 9500 HSF and the TNN300, you could say that there was some pretty innovative and interesting engineering in their products. Neither the HD160 nor the HD 135 fit the Zalman mold of the past; they're simply not well designed thermally or acoustically. At the very least, earlier Zalman products were good thermally.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2007 6:34 pm 
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And anyone building a DIY HTPC will see that this is a workable case, and should not need a glowing review of it to understand it. There are cases out there that work far better in stock form, and cost a lot less. They might not look as nice, but they work.

I dislike products that could be, but are not. Products designed by marketing, products that could be good but end up poor because of some penny pinching. Products that are deemed as "good enough" by the manufacturer.

This case is clearly not good as it could and should be, and it should not get a review that says it is something it is not. Zalman could have made it alot better, but they decided not to bother.

Sometimes i get the feeling that people get personally offended when a product they own or like does not get a glowing review.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2007 7:48 pm 
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nici wrote:
And anyone building a DIY HTPC will see that this is a workable case, and should not need a glowing review of it to understand it. There are cases out there that work far better in stock form, and cost a lot less. They might not look as nice, but they work.


Of course.

nici wrote:
Sometimes i get the feeling that people get personally offended when a product they own or like does not get a glowing review.


huh? I'm going to assume you are not talking about me.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2007 7:59 pm 
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jaganath wrote:
By the same token you can do the same to just about any HTPC on the market, so the Zalman is unremarkable in that regard;


You're repeating what I just said. I never said the Zalman was quiet or had great cooling in stock form.

jaganath wrote:
and honestly it does not look any different to me than all the other grey boxes on the market (in particular it looks very similar to Silverstone's LC16m). Given that it is not cheap either, what is there in particular about it that is exceptionally good?


As was stated before, the attributes I like are: the looks, plenty of room, and the ability to make it into a cool/quiet case. As far as looking like a Silverstone... similar doesn't always cut it. A Chinese company can make a car that looks similar to a Mercedes but overall it will still look cheaply made.


Last edited by mz4coupe on Wed Jan 03, 2007 8:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2007 8:07 pm 
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I am not bashing your review. I am simply stating that with a little work it is a perfectly capable case. I never said it was a perfect case. And far be it for me to say, but IMO someone building a DIY HTPC (and the people who buy this case are DIY system builders) should do the research in order to make it cool and quiet.

MikeC wrote:
This does not change the fact that it's a poorly designed case from a functional thermal / airflow / acoustics point of view. Our expectation as reviewers is that as the consumer pays more money, he should get better performance. Here, you get a case that MUST be modded to even work modestly well with a big portion of likely components. I call that bad design and bad value for $300.

Lots of people come to SPCR with no previous exposure to either modding or even the concept of making a PC quieter. They realize that they're tired of noisy computers and wonder if it's possible to get a quiet one and do a search -- lo & behond, SPCR comes up repeatedly in web searches, they start reading. Active forum participants represent probably 5-10% of the main site's readership. Hence, there is indeed a need and responsibility to review products AS IS for the steady flow of newbies that read our reviews.

I sincerely believe this case was not designed by engineers, but by marketing people who provided a check list of desirable attributes to the OEM/ODM supplier. The supplier simply delivered what was asked. The customer is always right.

This also suggests, to me, a change in Zalman from earlier days. Even up to the 9500 HSF and the TNN300, you could say that there was some pretty innovative and interesting engineering in their products. Neither the HD160 nor the HD 135 fit the Zalman mold of the past; they're simply not well designed thermally or acoustically. At the very least, earlier Zalman products were good thermally.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2007 8:26 pm 
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MikeC wrote:
This also suggests, to me, a change in Zalman from earlier days. Even up to the 9500 HSF and the TNN300, you could say that there was some pretty innovative and interesting engineering in their products ... At the very least, earlier Zalman products were good thermally.


Zalman still makes a nice VGA cooler in the VF900Cu (and FC-ZV9). Not as good as the Thermalright HR03 (not as new either) but still pretty good.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2007 8:56 pm 
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why it didnt get a great review is because is wasnt a great case out of the box.... if you think almost 65-70% of your average 35+ year old could not build a computer if thier life depended on it... how do you expect them to mod a case to make is quiet and termaly exceptional... the reviews are based on the situation that if you where to go out and get a new case and build a system in it with out moding the case how would it do..... i mean look at the case how hard would it have been to drill holes so you could mount 120mm fans on the side vents....atleast that you wont end up with a bunch of fried parts..... and to make it so you cold have a bigger psu in it all they would of really had to do is make that spot for the psu on the bottom alittle bigger.... the case could have been a good one but with the lack of thought put in to the case it isnt a good one

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2007 9:46 pm 
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mz4coupe wrote:
And far be it for me to say, but IMO someone building a DIY HTPC (and the people who buy this case are DIY system builders) should do the research in order to make it cool and quiet.


That is not the point. Zalman could have made it better, but they did not do that. The first thing you do with a case should not be rather extensive modification just to make it work like it should. If it was a 25$ case, maybe, but for 300$ it should be pretty damn near perfect.

Imagine a Fusion/nsk2400 with 80mm fans, one in the top and on in the bottom(or some other seemingly random placement). With some other holes drilled all around the case. That would be utter crap. You could make some holes for 120mm fans if you wanted, but it does not change the fact it would be crap in stock form.

The VF900 suffers from the same thing all zalman heatsinks do, a poor fan.

No need to post four times in a row either.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2007 10:19 pm 
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You don't understand. I KNOW why it got a bad review and I understand the POINT of the review. I will repeat myself and say that it CAN be a good case with modding. A comment, that is all. To the modding enthusiast it is still a viable option.

That 65-70% who could not build a computer for their life should be doing research before spending a dime on a computer part, much less quieting a case. Otherwise they deserve whatever malfunction they cause by building a hot or noisy PC.


PopCorn wrote:
why it didnt get a great review is because is wasnt a great case out of the box.... if you think almost 65-70% of your average 35+ year old could not build a computer if thier life depended on it... how do you expect them to mod a case to make is quiet and termaly exceptional... the reviews are based on the situation that if you where to go out and get a new case and build a system in it with out moding the case how would it do..... i mean look at the case how hard would it have been to drill holes so you could mount 120mm fans on the side vents....atleast that you wont end up with a bunch of fried parts..... and to make it so you cold have a bigger psu in it all they would of really had to do is make that spot for the psu on the bottom alittle bigger.... the case could have been a good one but with the lack of thought put in to the case it isnt a good one


Last edited by mz4coupe on Wed Jan 03, 2007 10:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2007 10:24 pm 
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I understand the point. I believe I have made myself clear on this matter. I never said it was an exceptional case or was perfect in stock form. Do you read?

In the end, the VF900 cools sufficiently, reliably, and is reasonably quiet. Thats all that matters.

Until a mod tells me otherwise, I will post how I like.

nici wrote:
That is not the point. Zalman could have made it better, but they did not do that. The first thing you do with a case should not be rather extensive modification just to make it work like it should. If it was a 25$ case, maybe, but for 300$ it should be pretty damn near perfect.

Imagine a Fusion/nsk2400 with 80mm fans, one in the top and on in the bottom(or some other seemingly random placement). With some other holes drilled all around the case. That would be utter crap. You could make some holes for 120mm fans if you wanted, but it does not change the fact it would be crap in stock form.

The VF900 suffers from the same thing all zalman heatsinks do, a poor fan.

No need to post four times in a row either.


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