Zalman Z-Machine GT1000
Like the previous model, the Zalman Z-Machine GT1000 comes in two versions: black and titan. It is smaller, being a standard tower made from aluminum. We got some suspicions about the materials when we were taking our sample out of the box because it proved to be as heavy as 12.5 kilos. The explanation is simple: each aluminum detail is 4 to 5 millimeters thick, which makes the case sufficiently rigid because aluminum is itself softer than steel. On the other hand, this negates the key advantage of aluminum system cases which is their low mass. So, the high price of the GT1000 can only be justified by its original appearance. In fact, the Z-Machine GT1000 is from the category of products that focus on externals rather than on a reasonable price/quality ratio.
The GT1000 has an impressive exterior indeed. It is compact, wide (it seems to be a mistake that the word slim is applied to this system case in the description at the official website), squatty and with a very queer profile. Well, at least it does attract the eye. Its appearance is eye-catching and memorable. You can hardly confuse it with some other model, so Zalman’s designers can be proud of their job.
The side doors are especially impressive. The side panel is indeed made up of two halves of unequal size. The left half has a transparent window that provides a view on the components whereas the small right half gives you access to the rack with drives. When closed, the doors are held with magnetic locks and four thumbscrews (two screws for each door). It is a shame that the screws scratch the surface of such a wonderful case. The screws themselves hide the scratches, but anyway.
You can see nothing unusual at the back: the GT1000 obviously has a standard layout with an almost obligatory (save for the cheapest models) 120mm exhaust fan. The other side panel is quite unusual, though. It consists of two doors, too. And the doors are held with hex cap screws you don’t often see in computers. The appropriate spanner is included with the system case, though.
Take note that the case has a minimum of perforation in comparison with its opponents. It only has a vent grid in the front panel and a fan grid in the back panel. That’s all. Perhaps the power supply may also serve as a connection between the interior and the outside world. There are no other vent holes here.
Now let’s get back to the front panel. In the center of it, between the massive vent grid below and the external drive bays above, there are I/O ports and controls: Power and Reset buttons, three indicators, two audio connectors, two USB ports and one FireWire port. The USB ports are too close to each other, and you won’t be able to plug two wide devices in simultaneously.
The designer has managed to fit these elements organically into the front panel. The buttons are shiny and these elements form a line that is emphasized by a neat ledge from below. The Reset button is small. You won’t be able to press it accidentally, yet the surrounding ledge makes it easier to use the button than in many other cases where you can only press it with a pen or something, and not with your finger.
The feet of this case add to its overall appearance. They are styled like that feet of home audio/video appliances and have a big diameter and a polished metal finish. This is largely mere decoration, though. In fact, the GT1000 stands on rather small square rubber pads you can see inside the feet.
Now, let’s open the doors wide. You can see two compartments for drives. The bottom compartment is designed for crosswise installation of HDDs and has two highlighted 92mm fans at the front. This compartment with dual fans seems to be the reason for the GT1000 to be wider than its opponents. The mainboard is installed on traditional poles and secured with screws. The manufacturing quality is high: everything is finished ideally. Every detail is very rigid due to the thickness of aluminum.
The left door opens very wide and will not get in the way when you will be assembling your computer.
The brackets opposite the expansion slots don’t match the overall style, being just too trivial. But they are fastened with thumbscrews, which seems to be Zalman’s style.
In the top two 5-inch bays devices are fastened with spring-loaded thumbscrews already fixed in both sides of the rack. You can fasten these screws without opening the second pair of doors by bending your hand inside the case, but most likely you will have to take the special spanner and open all the doors to install your 5-inch devices.
In the other bays devices are fastened with ordinary screws. They are not quite ordinary, though. These screws are longer than usual because of the thickness of the aluminum panels.
Now let’s move on to HDDs. There are two seats for them on the bottom of the case. First, you take off the four poles out of the bottom panel.