Zotac Announces OI520 4K ZBOX: Ultra-Small Spherical HTPC

By Published May 21, 2014 at 5:11 pm
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Zotac has been pushing small form factor HTPCs for years now, but they arrived to the market a bit ahead of the mini-ITX & Steam Machine craze of CES 2014; it'd be fair to say Zotac was ahead of its time, shipping "Zboxes" even before the NUC existed publicly, and as a result saw perhaps lower sales than if they'd been a year later to market.

And now they're back.

The new Zotac ZBOX Sphere OI520 series SFF HTPCs ship in two models -- the OI520 and OI520 Plus (both of which have awfully annoying names to remember). Here are the relevant specs:

Spec Zotac OI520 Zotac OI520 Plus
Form Factor Proprietary Sphere Proprietary Sphere
CPU Intel i5-4200U
1.6GHz / 2.6GHz TB
2C / 4T (HT)
3MB L2 Cache
HD 4400 IGP
Intel i5-4200U
1.6GHz / 2.6GHz TB
2C / 4T (HT)
3MB L2 Cache
HD 4400 IGP
Memory None.
2xDDR3L SO-DIMM Slots
4GB DDR3 Unspecified
Storage None.
1x2.5" SATA III slot.
1xmSATA port.
500GB HDD Unspecified
1xmSATA port
Display 1xHDMI
1xDisplayPort
1xHDMI
1xDisplayPort
I/O 2x3.5mm
SD card reader
4xUSB3.0
2xUSB2.0
Lock feature
2x3.5mm
SD card reader
4xUSB3.0
2xUSB2.0
Lock feature
Network Gigabit ethernet
802.11ac wireless
Bluetooth 4.0
Gigabit ethernet
802.11ac wireless
Bluetooth 4.0
MSRP $400 $500

As far as I can tell, the only differentiator between the two units is the presence of preinstalled storage and memory in the Plus model. The OI520 Plus ships with 4GB of unspecified RAM and a 500GB HDD; the OI520 (non-plus) must be spec'd out by the user in the RAM and storage departments. Both models ship with a 4th Gen Haswell i5-4200U CPU, a low-TDP mobile unit at 1.6GHz native frequency and Turbo Boosted up to 2.6GHz; the CPU hosts 3MB of L2 Cache and Intel's HD 4400 IGP, which is 'good enough' to play 4K video, though you shouldn't expect any reasonable gaming performance out of the chip. It'd play something light -- like indie platformers -- but that's about all I'd expect. Zotac notes that the device is 4K-ready.

zbox-1

The spherical ZBOX HTPC also hosts HDMI, DisplayPort, ethernet, 802.11ac wireless, and Bluetooth 4.0 I/O functionality.

zotac-zbox-boardshotZotac ZBOX OI520 board shot.

2xDDR3L SO-DIMM slots are available on-board. We would recommend high-frequency memory modules to take full advantage of the IGP, which will be hitting memory due to a lack of on-card memory - as found on a video card. Also present on board is a single mSATA slot and SATA III 6Gbps connectivity, with room in the 'box' for a single 2.5" drive.

The ZBOX-OI520-P-U (Plus) ships at $500; the sub-spec'd unit (ZBOX-OI520-U) is available for $400. I'd suspect you're getting some sort of ~5400RPM HDD in the Plus model, but we don't yet know the exact details. I've reached out to Zotac for comment and will update here when we receive one.

Update: The RAM spec is: Single Module 4GB SO-DIMM DDR3 11-11-11-28-1T @ 1600MHz; HDD spec is a 5400RPM Samsung HDD (we advise purchasing your own RAM + HDD if you are capable of installing them).

- Steve "Lelldorianx" Burke.

Last modified on May 23, 2014 at 5:11 pm
Steve Burke

Steve started GamersNexus back when it was just a cool name, and now it's grown into an expansive website with an overwhelming amount of features. He recalls his first difficult decision with GN's direction: "I didn't know whether or not I wanted 'Gamers' to have a possessive apostrophe -- I mean, grammatically it should, but I didn't like it in the name. It was ugly. I also had people who were typing apostrophes into the address bar - sigh. It made sense to just leave it as 'Gamers.'"

First world problems, Steve. First world problems.

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