Smooth Creations has an elite crew of artists that have presented us with some of the most extreme case paint jobs known to man. We have the latest creation in our test lab and have compiled this preview for you to drool upon.
There comes a point in some people’s lives where they stand back, take a gaze at the world around them, and say "Been there, done that." And while that may be true for some, I hope that most do not share that outlook, as there is often something lurking out there that will move the bar just a little bit higher and leave us amazed. Today is one of those moments, a chance for computer geeks … err … enthusiasts to relish something special. What is this surprise, you may ask, this technical epiphany of sorts? It’s a computer case. Yes, a case. But not just any case: a Smooth Creations case. Truth be told, we have a fully operational, custom computer system on hand, but today is just a Preview of the custom case itself. We’ll soon follow up with a full review of the whole system, but we felt that a separate preview was necessary in order to fully showcase and appreciate the custom case and artwork itself.
For those of you who may not have heard of Smooth Creations, you have probably seen photos of their work around the Web, particularly in coverage of the various tradeshows and conventions. Founded in 1999 by an automotive finishing expert, Smooth Creations is a company that specializes in custom artwork on computer cases. And when I say artwork, I mean ARTWORK, not the type of bland paint jobs you may see floating around. Their staff are experts at their craft and airbrushes are their weapon of choice. They detail cases just like a hotrod car: all paints used are automotive basecoats/clearcoats that are applied in controlled-atmosphere booths, then sanding, cleaning, basecoating in multiple layers, airbrushing custom designs, and finally clearcoating several times. Smooth Creations will also allow their clients (yes, the refer to you as a client, not a customer) to send in custom artwork to apply onto a case. They’ll also let you pick any case you like, and even send one in to customize if you are so inclined. They claim to have never seen a design they couldn’t airbrush, and they can usually have your case in your hands within three to four weeks.
With such claims of choice and commitment to service, the only thing that remains to be seen is the product itself. So let’s jump right in.
The box arrived at my door on a delivery cart. A CART. That gives you some indication of the size of this package. I wondered how such a specialized case would be packaged for shipping, and I quickly found out as I opened the box. It was a box inside a box with packing foam. Seriously. Never would have thought of that, but quite ingenious when you stop for a second and actually think about it. So after taking the box outside of the box, I then saw that it was a Zalman GS1000 computer box. Still skeptical, I wondered if this was the actual case or if I’d find another box, like some Russian egg toy trick gone wrong. Thankfully that was not the … err … case … that was the only case. Confused yet? It gets better, once inside the inside box, I pulled out the computer itself, which was wrapped in a cloth case. No joke. It reminded me of an unveiling at a car show. At this point, I think it’s best to let some pictures do the talking.
Here we see the box, the box and what lies inside.
Opening the Zalman box and packing, we see a soft cloth cover which protects the surface from any scratches during shipping.
Time for the unveiling…
Pulling off the cloth cover I was finally, FINALLY, able to see the naked case with my own eyes. And yes, it was a sight to behold. See for yourself:
I’m not quite sure if it’s a demon, a zombie, or an understudy from the Living Dead, but it sure looks great. Admittedly, demons and such are not really my "thing", but the theme of a case is something that Smooth Creations can tailor to suit your individual tastes. So, having a background in design and taken my fair share of many art courses in my day, I can appreciate fine quality workmanship and talent when I see it, regardless of the subject material. This case is really top notch work; the detailing is excellent, color separation is clear and distinguishable with no bleeding or careless edges, and the paint coverage extends fully across the panels on very tight tolerances. The finish on the case is exceptional, with a real depth that is visible through the clearcoats.
The artwork is features on both side panels of the case, with identical images displayed on the left and right.
The choice of case itself to customize, the Zalman GS1000 is a bit of an interesting selection in my opinion. It is undoubtedly a quality case with a glossy piano finish, accenting the paint job very nicely, and showcasing some great features such as hotswap drive bays, soft-eject doors, and great ventilation. However, it is also a case that is lacking any front intake fans or dust filters, and is very "plasticky" along the edges. What struck me as odd, though, was the lack of feet on the bottom of the case that should be part of the Zalman case design. The feet are necessary to raise the case off the ground in order for ventilation through the bottom of the case, which is extensively perforated and case function as intake points for air circulation into the case. The case also features a bottom-mounted power supply which should be sucking fresh, cool air inside from the bottom of the case. This cannot happen with the case sitting flush to the floor or desk, making me wonder how the power supply would be getting fresh air then?
Considering the lack of intake fans at the front and the bottom of the case, this effectively reduces the ventilation this case to a passive air circulation setup. For a high-end gaming system that would be prone to producing a great deal of heat, I would be quite concerned about this lack of active ventilation. In fairness, Smooth Creations clearly indicates they can customize any case, and after seeing the top quality workmanship of their artwork, I have no doubt they are true to their word. Just a word of caution though, if you are thinking of ordering the Zalman GS1000 enclosure, be sure to inquire about the raised feet before confirming your order, or simply choose another case. My guess is that if you are in the market for a custom, airbrushed case, then you are probably also very particular about your case selection.
The front of the case features two soft-eject drive doors that house the hotswap drives. The top of the case has an elevated panel that creates openings to exhaust warm air outward.
And so ends our preview of the Smooth Creations-custom-airbrushed-insanely-out-of-this-world-artwork-case. My hat goes off to the crew at Smooth Creations whose talent and creativity gives me chills, but in a good way. My hat also goes off to those of you will be fortunate enough to own one of these pieces of art, for you shall be the envy of all who gaze upon your gaming goodness, realizing that our own cases are mere mortals in the land of giants.
Be sure to check back soon for our full review of this system, when we delve into the belly of beast, offering a look inside and a detailed analysis of its gaming performance.