Zalman HD160 HTPC Enclosure Review

Cases & PSU/Cases by piotke @ 2006-03-16

With the HD160 Zalman is expanding their product range, this HTPC enclosure is of high quality and aims to deliver a good balance between cooling and noise generation; it has support for full size ATX motherboards, and comes with a VFD display and Windows Media Center remote control.

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Installation & Cooling/Noise

Printed Circuit Boards

After the CPNS9500 CPU cooler was installed on the motherboard, the assembly went into the HD160. Because this is identical to other cases, there’s nothing specific to say. A Pinnacle TV card and Geforce4 MX480 equipped with the VF700-Cu were screwed into place.Madshrimps (c)

Power Supply

Finally we have the power supply. It happens often that I wait until the end to install the power supply. This way I can hide the cables without having to get them out again.

You can’t screw the power supply into the case just like that. In the case you can find a special holder. You need to take this holder out of the case, so you can screw the power supply into the holder. This seems like a lot of work, but there’s a reason why you need to do it like that.

While high speed movement of air is the main cause of noise you should not overlook vibration noise which can be more annoying. Zalman tries to reduce this noise to a minimum by placing as much shock absorbers as possible. Remember the HDD? The power supply is installed with the same screws and rubber rings and then placed into the case. To reduce the force the “hanging” power supply is exercising on the rear panel, the power supply partially leans on a rubber cube which is attached to the bottom of the case.

Madshrimps (c) Madshrimps (c)


Since this is a Home Theater PC silence is very important. The fan speed of VF700-cu cooler as well as on the CPNS9500 Led CPU cooler can adjusted. The 120mm fan of the power supply Zalman 460 is very silent as it doesn’t need to spin very fast and it draws in fresh air from outside to cool the inside of the PSU.

The fans in the back are attached by vibration absorbing elements in the same way the power supply and HDD are attached. Rubber shock absorbing elements are also placed between the case, fan and screws.

The feet of the case, which look a lot like the classical Hifi installation feet, absorb the remaining vibrations. They have chrome finishing and are filled with soft rubber.

On the inside a band of mousse surrounds the upper panel.
Madshrimps (c)


In the rear panel of the case there are 2x 80mm fans of Zalman. They are connected to a molex splitter, which allows them to switch between 5 volt and 12 volt. 7 volt is not available. The Zalman CPNS9500 cooler, which has a wind turbine look, anticipates on this, and also follows the airflow. Hot air, partially sucked in from the HDD region, is quickly removed from the case. When you use a cooler that doesn’t follow the airflow, e.g. a boxed cooler or third party cooler which blows air down onto the motherboard (Like Zalman’s own CNPS7xxx series) you can open a ventilation hole in the top panel to supply fresh air.

Of course you can think about disabling the rear fans, but this has a very negative impact on the cooling. And there’s no reason not to put them on 5v as they are dead silent at this setting.

The fan on the power supply doesn’t push out hot air, but sucks in cool air from the outside to cool the PSU, so while it doesn’t help the case cooling, it does help keep noise levels down as the power supply will not get overheated. Lower temperatures also mean better efficiency and more stable volt lines. So to keep the inside of the case cool the 2x80mm fans are vital.

Madshrimps (c) Madshrimps (c) Madshrimps (c)

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