We're looking at Zotac's new Pico PI320 mini-PC today which, despite its name, is not a Raspberry Pi derivative. The Pico is part of an invasion force of mini computers that has been flooding the market lately. Steam Machines are one thing – and Zotac has made those, too – but these are entirely different. Mini PCs are more targeted at low-end, TV-mounted used, generally favoring browsing and YouTube viewing over any heavy-duty tasks.
Most don't have enough storage to work as a long-term multimedia solution, demanding a more robust network-attached storage device if movie or TV file streaming is a requirement. Mini PCs also don't afford the gaming prowess required to run much more than a 2D platformer; with thanks to efforts made by Valve's Steam, AMD, and nVidia (GameStream), game streaming to a mini PC is a possibility, but even that has other throttles (network, OS / platform concerns). All these shortcomings noted, they're still viable computers – it just depends on what the user wants. For browsing, business use (documents, simple spreadsheets, day-to-day life), and down-streamed content, a mini PC has potential for deployment.
The delay of Valve's Steam Machine (or Steam Box) has forced the hand of systems manufacturers. Alienware, Gigabyte with the Brix, and now Zotac have all begun shipping their would-have-been Steam Machines as DIY mini-PCs. Steam has disallowed the shipment of officially branded Steam Machines until the completion of its haptic controller, leaving system manufacturers scrambling to untie the resources dedicated to machines that were originally slated for a 2014 launch.
In an official capacity, Gigabyte's BRIX Pro and Zotac's EN760 are not "Steam Machines" -- at least, not by branding -- but they might as well be. The EN760 (Newegg page) ships in two models: The EN760 and EN760 Plus. The base model ships without RAM or permanent storage at $540; the Plus edition includes a single 8GB stick of 1600MHz RAM and 1x1TB 5400RPM HDD. Both units are outfitted with an 860M mobile GPU, i5-4200U mobile CPU, and custom board design to fit in a 7.4" x 7.4" x 2" (188 x 188 x 51mm) shell.
The newest addition to the world's lineup of gaming-grade home-theater PCs is Zotac's ZBOX EN760, which we first wrote about a few weeks ago. Zotac has been making its "ZBOX" product line for years now, though the EN760 is the first model to have serious competitive potential in the living room gaming market.
The original plan was to have our EN760 review and benchmark online by now, but issues encountered with nVidia's 337.88 drivers have stalled that temporarily. Zotac's new EN760 -- not yet shipping on the consumer market -- uses an nVidia GTX 860m mobile GPU for its graphics solution. The 860m ships in two SKUs: a Kepler-powered unit and a Maxwell-powered unit. According to the specifications provided by Zotac, it appears that the EN760 uses the Maxwell architecture 860m GPU in league with a portable i5-4200U CPU (1.6GHz / 2.6GHz turbo boost). These components together are what have created driver compatibility issues with 337.88, though nVidia and Zotac are working to resolve them rapidly.
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