Our PAX Prime visit thus far has showcased some of MSI’s new X99 boards, Intel’s X99 setup, and lots of Star Citizen. Come Saturday, we had the opportunity to get hands-on with Zotac’s new Pico PI320 mini-PC announced shortly before PAX.
The PC was fully-detailed in our previous article, so we’ll just recap the core specs and video here.
A new PI mini-PC from ZOTAC ships at 115.5 x 66 x 19.2mm, similar to a Raspberry Pi. The new “ZBOX PI320” ships with Windows 8.1 pre-installed on its 32GB Flash memory and fills-out a form factor that ZOTAC calls “Nano XS.”
The computer is equipped with Intel's quad-core Baytrail BGA CPU running the IGP for graphics (specific CPU undefined), 2GB of DDR3L memory, 32GB eMMC integrated Flash, and room to expand storage via micro SD/SDHC/SDXC.
We remarked upon the GTX 750 / 750 Ti reveal that passive cards were a distinct possibility, given the low TDP and ability of the cards to operate solely on motherboard PCI-e power. Hovering at a 55W TDP, nVidia’s GM107-powered GTX 750 doesn’t draw any power from the PSU and has a lower thermal footprint than any of its higher-powered brethren. With the right heatsink design, it’s always been an ideal candidate for a passively-cooled, silent, low-profile HTPC video card.
ZOTAC announced its “GTX 750 ZONE” passively-cooled solution just a few weeks ago. Standard GTX 750 specs apply, the one exception being that Zotac has nixed the active fan in favor of a larger aluminum and copper heatsink with no active components. Thermals are always a concern when operating a passively-cooled device, and with GPUs, thermals will directly impact the throttling and performance (FPS) output in games.
We benchmarked Zotac’s passive GTX 750 Zone video card for temperatures and framerate (FPS) in Metro, GRID, Battlefield 4, Titanfall, Watch_Dogs, and FurMark. These results can be extrapolated upon for a wider-spectrum understanding of the GPU’s worth for gaming.
ZOTAC announced today the availability of a new GeForce GTX 750 video card in their graphics lineup. The new "GTX 750 ZONE Edition" video card is cooled entirely passively, strictly using an aluminum heatsink and copper coldplate (with copper heatpipes) for all dissipation. Fans are not outfitted on the GTX 750 ZONE card at all. Judging from the press shots, it looks like two ~6mm copper heatpipes and an aluminum sink are mounted to the board. The ZONE is a dual-slot 750.
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.
The rather artsy, spherical OI520 Zotac PC that was announced last week made for an interesting object, but didn't really have anything to get gamers interested. Equipped solely with an i5-4200U 1.6GHz / 2.6GHz TB CPU and an HD4400 IGP, the little orb isn't meant for much beyond generic HTPC and movie/stream viewing tasks. Zotac has addressed this with their beefed-up version, the EN760, announced earlier today.
Zotac's EN760 & EN760 Plus "mini gaming PCs" propel the ZBOX family forward with integrated GTX 860M Maxwell GPUs in a small form factor box. Before getting deeper into this, the specs:
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:
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