We were apprehensive when we first saw Zalman’s Z-Machine LQ1000 case. From the outside, the chassis looks like a combination of the company’s Fatal1ty FC-ZE1 case (reviewed February 2007) and its Reserator XT external water cooler (reviewed December 2007). But this case isn’t simply a slapped-together hybrid of two products. Zalman packs a number of improvements into the LQ1000.
The LQ1000 abandons the frustrating billion-screw design of its predecessor, the FC-ZE1, for a thumb-screwed side panel. The case’s drive bays use the same tool-free design as the FC-ZE1, but the mounting mechanisms for the case’s four 5.25-inch bays are all tool-free as well.
A monstrous 10x14.25-inch reservoir attaches to the inside of the case’s side panel. It uses 3/8-inch tubing that connects to a 79.25 gallon-per-hour pump attached to the bottom of the chassis. Zalman supplies one of its own water blocks, the ZM-WB5, for your CPU, and it’s compatible with both Intel and AMD systems.
The water-cooling loop’s performance crushes that of a stock cooler and even outpaces that of our top air cooler, Thermaltake’s DuOrb.
However, we dislike the lack of tubing between the pump’s outflow and the water block’s input. It’s an extremely short run that doesn’t leave much room for tube routing. Similarly, the inside of the case is tight. An 8800 GTX videocard brushes up against the hard drive bays.
On the case we received, the connector for the front-panel power button was mislabeled as “HD LED,” and the connection didn’t work. Also, the side panel holding the motherboard tray didn’t line up against the panel covering the drive bays, letting a sliver of light sneak through the case. It’s a minor flaw, but frustrating if you plan to pack the inside of the case with swanky lights.
While this is certainly one of the better water-cooling chassis we’ve tested, it’s not perfect. Zalman has made some improvements to its previous designs, but the LQ1000 could stand a bit more polish.