You may have already seen benchmark results for the Zbox ID92 in our first look at AMD's mobile Kaveri APU. We chose the Zbox for that matchup because its 35W Core i5-4570T is pretty close in terms of power draw and positioning to the notebook-bound Kaveri chip we got to test.
To summarize our findings, the Core i5 is a stronger performer than its AMD rival in CPU-bound productivity tasks. However, the Intel HD 4600 graphics lag quite far behind Kaveri's integrated Radeon in games and GPU-accelerated apps. That was about what we expected going in, since Intel's desktop and notebook processors have prioritized CPU speed over graphics brawn for years now.
With that info in mind, we wanted to run some more games on the Zbox ID92 to see if, despite its processors' GPU handicap, the system might still make a good semi-casual gaming machine. We equipped it with a 256GB Crucial M4 solid-state drive, 4GB of DDR3-1600 RAM, and Windows 8.1, and we looked at four titles, ordered below from most to least graphically intensive.
In each case, we tinkered with the settings to find the best compromise of visual fidelity and performance. We then played for a little while, keeping an eye on frame rates as reported by Fraps, and we jotted down our results.
Battlefield 4 is a pretty demanding game by any definition of the term, and sadly, it's a little too much for the Zbox ID92. At 1366x768 with details levels at their lowest, frame rates were often stuck in the teens during the single-player campaign's beach-assault mission. That made the game pretty much unplayable.
BioShock Infinite isn't as state-of-the-art as BF4, and unsurprisingly, it runs much better on the Zbox ID92. At 1366x768 with the very low detail preset, we saw frame rates hover between 25 and 40 FPS during the combat and exploration section immediately after the raffle scene. The game didn't look its best or run as smoothly as it could, but it was fluid enough to be fun. That's something.
Next was a favorite of mine, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Since this game doesn't really have graphical presets, I spent a little extra time on the settings screen. I settled on a 1366x768 resolution with medium shadows, models, and textures; low effects and shaders; trilinear filtering; and everything else disabled.
At those settings, frame rates in the Mist map were in the 40-60 FPS range—smoother than in BioShock, and definitely fluid enough to land some well-timed headshots. The game didn't look particularly pretty, but trading eye candy for a higher K:D ratio doesn't bother me. I expect most multiplayer gamers feel the same way.
Last up was my current go-to indie game, Race The Sun. At 1920x1200 with default settings, this throwback to my Star Fox days glided along at 40-50 FPS, more than fast enough to dodge obstacles and tackle the tricky Apocalypse mode.
In all, the Zbox ID92 is hardly the best gaming PC out there, but its Core i5 chip holds its own in older and not-so-demanding 3D games. That means you definitely won't be stuck with Angry Birds on this machine. Also, the Zbox ID92 was very quiet during our testing—practically silent compared to the Brix Pro, whose shrieking fan makes prolonged gaming sessions a pain.
We haven't pitted the Zbox against either the Brix Pro or the Brix Gaming, but both Brix models have faster, higher-wattage processors, and they both feature speedier graphics solutions: a GeForce in the case of the Brix Gaming, and an Iris Pro IGP with an eDRAM cache for the Brix Pro. Our testing shows even the Brix Pro manages playable frame rates in Battlefield 4.
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