Enclosure ZS-A4S V3 - Sweet size for compact mid-spec air cooled build

Ricky Zeng

Caliper Novice
Original poster
Jun 10, 2020
33
26
Only saw one or two posts regarding earlier versions (V1/V2) of this case, so I thought I'd share a few pictures and thoughts regarding the case I used recently for my build which I've been very satisfied with. The ZS-A4S V3 was purchased from Taobao. An individual case builder who's also on this forum and goes by the name ZSMOD. This is a case catered around a Flex PSU, 2-fan graphics card, and ITX board. The shop also offers a larger version ZS-A4 for SFX PSU with a unique slide-out internal frame, and a couple of even smaller Flex powered cases for shorter single-fan graphics cards. Originally I was hoping to get a Dan A4 V4.1, but that has been out of stock since early this year. Found ZS-A4S at the very last moment after a long search for alternatives on the web, so I gotta say that this case is relatively less known compared to others designs.

Ver.3 of ZS-A4S has adopted an exterior styling that's very similar to Ghost S1, as opposed to the much more edgy designs of V1 and V2 (which feels more like home garage built). The packaging it came with was un-impressive, containing just the case itself plus a tool box for fasteners and a hex-head screw driver. The 190mm ADT branded raiser cable was bought separately.


At first glance this case might easily be dismissed as another Ghost S1 clone. However it actually comes with a few unique features that makes it much more than a simple knock-off. First of all it uses Flex PSU instead of SFX units, which gives it more compact dimensions. It also has the motherboard and graphics card arranged in the opposite sides compared to Dan A4 / Ghost S1 and most other A4s, which actually makes the MB sitting in a traditional ATX orientation.


It was built with rather tight tolerances so all the fit is quite flush. M3 hex socket cap screws were used in most locations including top panel, thus not a tool-less design. On the front there's only the power botton with white circular LED. All the non-radiused edges are chamfered. No sharp feel to the touch. Vent holes and openings are also all CNC machined. I think the overall build quality is at least on-par with even the most established A4 cases.


Vent grills at the bottom has generous opening area. It comes with four aluminum case feet with rubber padding, but unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of the feet installed. Only one pic with them in the toolbox further below:



Under the top panel are two dedicated openings for 92mm fan, as well as cutouts for Flex PSU vent and power extension cords:


Sliding side panels - identical design with Ghost S1. Panel rail fit here is also nice and tight:


Case frame are CNC'ed from 3mm aluminium sheets - same thickness for side and top panels. Front and rear panels are probably milled from even thicker billets or tubings. There's a separate panel shown on the right to hold 2.5" drives - up to four using the provided side brackets if CPU cooler and RAM height allows:


Due to its mounting location the graphics card will be orientated up side down, which could be good or bad depending on which way the card vents out hot air more. There's an pin with adjustable position to provide additional support:


Don't know if anybody ever bothered to check in similar A4 cases, but with the raiser cable bent around, I found the space for the M.2 slot on the back of the motherboard still reasonably adequate. Even an M.2 heatsink is possible. This is good news for MB with M.2 slot at the back, although graphics cards with thicker backplate might reduce this clearance:


Half-finished build with all hardware in. Notice the gap between MB edge and Flex PSU. This allowed using the stupid 90deg SATA sockets on my Asrock B550 PG ITX/ax with pretty much any angled connectors - a salvation indeed. BTW the blackridge cooler fitted in just fine too, as there's no more case brackets at the bottom to block it (which is an issue with V1/V2 I think). For PSU I currently cheaped out using the Metalfish 500W unit (with a length of 173mm and just fitted in with no margin at all). Had I started the build a few weeks later, I'd opt for the new FSP 500W Flex modular unit...


The cables that came with the Metalfish PSU suited the case OK - albeit the MB 24pin and SATA cords are a bit too long. With the SATA drive and its cords in place, the intake vents for PSU is almost completely blocked (I later partially remedied this by using much shorter SATA cables). I don't think this is good for PSU's longevity. Luckily I'll soon be moving to all M.2 drives for this rig and get rid of SATA completely. I did the cables last - after all other hardware were already in, and cable routing was actually quite easy. I haven't even bothered to tie them up.


Yes I'm still using my old ASUS RX580 and no, I don't plan to upgrade untill AMD and its partner decide to throw on a Type-C or Thunderbolt video outlet. The graphics card bay on this case is said to be able to accomodate cards with length up to 270mm-ish and thickness to 42mm, so standard two-slot types and typical size for many entry to mid-spec two fan cards. However my ASUS's fan blades protrude just beyond its shroud / cover, and slightly scratched on the case side panel. Even I wedged out the panel a bit to make the blades not touching it, the noise due to turbulence was quite significant because of close proximity of fans and panel, which was quite a bugger. The graphics card bay size was actually designed around the RTX 2070 Super reference card, as it shows in the Taobao product pictures, and that only has a thickness of 35mm-ish. I shall keep this in mind if upgrading for a new partner card, and make sure the fans are well below the height defined by the card's two-slot I/O plate. Dan A4's 45mm card thickness limit seems more reasonable...


This case's biggest advantage is the default two 92mm fan placement on the top. I think this can help extract hot air away from the case more efficiently than Dan A4's two fan placement at the bottom (too many blockage for the air flow), especailly when both the CPU and graphics card fans are taking in from the sides. When running I could feel the sides and bottom of the case were cool, while the top was warm with good airflow upwards. There seems enough space to add one more 40x10 fan on top of the PSU, which is something I'd definitely do if I were to upgrade to the FSP 500W Flex (its fan is located at the bottom / cable side and set to intake).


Finished build:




Weight of the empty case is at ~1.5Kg. When fully built the whole system weighs just over 4.5Kg. Although the size is quite packable, I'd hate to lug it around all day :-)


A few size comparison pics:


with a short-ish ATX PSU:


with a thin-ITX:


ATX / M-ATX / ZS-A4S / Thin ITX. Really glad I moved on to SFF units since earlier this year:


Since the CAD models of both Dan A4 and Ghost S1 are available on the web, I did a quick CAD mock-up of the ZS-A4S and also Intel's new NUC-9, which has Flex PSU and sandwich structure as well. The height and width of ZS-A4S is pretty much identical to Dan A4, while being shorter in length. NUC-9 is even shorter and really tiny, although its 200mm-ish graphics card length restriction is more limiting (pretty much single-fan card only with exception of the special ASUS RTX2070 short two-fan card). Ghost S1 looks chubby compared to the other three, but it also allows taller CPU heatsinks and is superior in cooling options:






Apologizes for the rather long post. Any comments / criticisms welcome.
 

hereforthefeast

SFF Lingo Aficionado
Oct 25, 2019
104
117
My ZS-A4M-V2 is sitting at the superbuy warehouse right now and I'm really tempted to add this to my order. But I already have a T1 on the way so I don't really have a need for this particular case other than it looks really good.
 

MasterHW

Chassis Packer
Dec 29, 2019
14
9
I've been following this case closely, thank you for posting. I am concerned about fan turbulence as well - CPU can be remedied by fan-under-heatsink coolers like the Black Ridge or IS-47K, but GPU could be troublesome as well. Some cooler designs do have the fans slightly recessed, which could help. Anyway, thanks again for sharing your build and thoughts.
 

smitty2k1

King of Cable Management
Dec 3, 2016
851
432
I love the layout this case has and have been really impressed with the manufacturing quality of the ZS cases so far. Thanks for the real detailed review, this may have gone to the top of my mini-samdwich list.
 

Ricky Zeng

Caliper Novice
Original poster
Jun 10, 2020
33
26
I've been following this case closely, thank you for posting. I am concerned about fan turbulence as well - CPU can be remedied by fan-under-heatsink coolers like the Black Ridge or IS-47K, but GPU could be troublesome as well. Some cooler designs do have the fans slightly recessed, which could help. Anyway, thanks again for sharing your build and thoughts.
Too true. I wonder when can there be graphics card coolers with fans underneath the heatsink like Blackridge. That'll do wonders for A4 sandwich type cases. At the moment though, most reference cards should be fine. Some 2-fan graphics cards from Sapphire / Gigabyte / Asrock also seem to have lower cooler profile.
 

Ricky Zeng

Caliper Novice
Original poster
Jun 10, 2020
33
26
I've been following this case closely, thank you for posting. I am concerned about fan turbulence as well - CPU can be remedied by fan-under-heatsink coolers like the Black Ridge or IS-47K, but GPU could be troublesome as well. Some cooler designs do have the fans slightly recessed, which could help. Anyway, thanks again for sharing your build and thoughts.
I later found out a trick to this: by sticking on a couple of thin dust filters, I was able to reduce the turbulent noise by maybe 70~80%, thus mostly solved the issue. ZS-A4S side panel vent area can be completely covered by two 12cm filters. I think the fine holes on the filter somehow soothed the flows or reduced flow speed. No noticeable change in temperatures by doing this. Perhaps the ultimate solution is to have wire mesh side panels.
 
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ranjsebs

Case Bender
New User
Jun 5, 2020
2
0
thinking of this as my upgrade if my loli1 doesnt fit my needs anymore. hopefully it will still be "backpackable"
 

manicMetro

Cable Smoosher
Jul 19, 2020
10
3
How tall of an cpu cooler can fit into the case? since the dan a4 is out of stock this looks like a great alternative!
 

chyeah

Cable Smoosher
Jul 14, 2020
8
4
Ordered mine via Superbuy a few days ago - here's hoping it won't take forever to get here! I also am relying on my EVGA 2080 Black to fit, the 2070s FE is listed at 267mm (mine is 269mm) and it looks pretty damn snug in those Taobao pics. Looking forward to using my current build's internals in an even smaller case that utilizes a flex-atx psu - going from an Ncase M1 to this. The top mounted fans are a huge bonus as well.
 

chyeah

Cable Smoosher
Jul 14, 2020
8
4
Got to the warehouse last night, ordered the fastest shipping because I'm impatient as hell, lol. Might get here by the end of next week if I'm lucky.
 

chyeah

Cable Smoosher
Jul 14, 2020
8
4
Still waiting on mine - what type of power cable will I need for that extender?
 

kazuma86

Airflow Optimizer
Jan 12, 2020
253
160
Can you share your parts and link where you buy? I love to know for Flex 500 Watt
 

Ricky Zeng

Caliper Novice
Original poster
Jun 10, 2020
33
26
Can you share your parts and link where you buy? I love to know for Flex 500 Watt
Try the links mentioned in the replies from these two posts. They're from Taobao / Aliexpress:

Although I would now prefer to get the FSP Flex Guru 500W PSU instead of the Metalfish one, if you're after good noise performance out of box, better efficiency / reliability, and shorter PSU length. If you don't mind switching the 40x20mm fan for a more silent one and using lower to mid-spec CPU and graphics like I am, I guess the Metalfish unit is fine.
 

kazuma86

Airflow Optimizer
Jan 12, 2020
253
160
Try the links mentioned in the replies from these two posts. They're from Taobao / Aliexpress:

Although I would now prefer to get the FSP Flex Guru 500W PSU instead of the Metalfish one, if you're after good noise performance out of box, better efficiency / reliability, and shorter PSU length. If you don't mind switching the 40x20mm fan for a more silent one and using lower to mid-spec CPU and graphics like I am, I guess the Metalfish unit is fine.
Maybe i will stick with metalfish right now. I'm trying to find FlexGuru 500w. But already sold out, well if i can fin in taobao, that will be great.
 

chyeah

Cable Smoosher
Jul 14, 2020
8
4
Got my case, but need to get a power cable for the cloverleaf in the back (US grounded). Would this power cord cause any issues with my enhance 7660b? I can't tell exactly what type of cord I need based on just the psu specs. Any help would be much appreciated.