New Zbox systems get Ivy Bridge, desktop GeForce

This week’s news will be filled with product news from CES. The Consumer Electronics Show doesn’t begin officially until Tuesday, but press releases are already hitting our inbox. Today, Zotac unveils two new additons to its Zbox family of small-form-factor systems: the ID42 and ID83. Both feature Core-based Intel processors, and the former comes wrapped in a third-generation chassis.

The new chassis has grown 7 mm thicker to accommodate the combination of a 1.1GHz "dual-core Intel Core processor" and Nvidia’s GeForce GT 610 GPU. The ambiguously named CPU is a mobile chip. The GeForce comes from Nvidia’s stable of desktop parts, although it’s still pretty much the bottom of the barrel for the 6-series Fermi lineup. Zotac doesn’t hype the GPU’s gaming potential, but it does point out the GeForce’s support for Blu-ray 3D decode acceleration and bitstream audio output. I can’t help but be curious whether this little box has enough horsepower to handle all those indie games I’ve accumulated over the past few years.

Along with its CPU-GPU tag team, the Zbox ID42 sports dual Gigabit Ethernet ports and a pair of external antennas for its 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. The exterior is lined with all kinds of connectivity, including dual USB 3.0 ports, dual USB 2.0 ports, analog audio jacks, an S/PDIF audio out, and both HDMI and DVI video outputs. There’s even an integrated card reader.

The ID83 has a similar port payload, plus a couple USB 2.0 jacks and minus one Wi-Fi antenna. Under the hood, it features an Ivy-based Core i3-3120M that’s a nice upgrade over the Sandy-based i3-2330M from the old ID82. The new CPU is still a 35W duallie with Hyper-Threading support, but its clock speed has been bumped to 2.5GHz, a 300MHz increase. This Ivy implementation also features Intel’s HD Graphics 4000 GPU, which is a cut above the HD 3000 in Sandy Bridge.

Like previous Zbox systems, the ID42 and ID83 will be sold as barebone rigs and in Plus configurations loaded with RAM and storage. The barebone configs offer dual SO-DIMM slots and 2.5" SATA bays. In the Plus models, those are filled with 4GB of DDR3 and 500GB, 5,400-RPM mechanical hard drives.

As expected, the new models each come with a handful of accessories. There are two mounting options: a simple vertical stand and a VESA-compatible bracket that can be affixed to the back of some monitors and pretty much anywhere you can sink a few screws. Also included is an MCE remote that’s perfect for the living room. You can see pictures of those extras and more in the gallery below.

Comments closed
    • Stickmansam
    • 7 years ago

    Why don’t they use and APU and ditch the nvidia card?
    The APU could game better then the HD4000 and the Nvidia card and give almost the same benefits as both while probably costing less.

    • LoneWolf15
    • 7 years ago

    If I could get a version that would fit a blu-ray drive, it’d be my next HTPC.

      • NeelyCam
      • 7 years ago

      Then you should check this out:

      [url<]http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16856158031[/url<]

        • LoneWolf15
        • 7 years ago

        I have a HTPC build project in the works I’ll be posting on the forums.

      • Kurotetsu
      • 7 years ago

      Has Blu-ray playback on HTPCs gotten any better? Last I checked until it was still a massive pain in the ass compared to a PS3 or an actual blu-ray player.

        • insulin_junkie72
        • 7 years ago

        It’s more like like stabbing your left testicle with a screwdriver now, rather than stabbing yourself in both testicles.

        Still a lot of pain, but a little bit better.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 7 years ago

    These need a TR review, it’s been a while since you looked at one of Zotac’s larger mini systems. Sound measurements and qualitative sound impressions are very important for systems like this.

    • NeelyCam
    • 7 years ago

    [quote<]dual USB 3.0 ports[/quote<] ...and the NUC is dead.

      • chuckula
      • 7 years ago

      D’OH!
      –> Edit: Unless of course this thing costs substantially more than the NUC, in which case the NUC can still live on in a lower plane of existence.

        • NeelyCam
        • 7 years ago

        I doubt the barebones model is going to cost substantially more. NUC has premium pricing because of the form factor..

        I like the NUC and it works great for my purpose (since I have it hooked up to my home network with Ethernet, I have access to file servers), but I think the lack of USB3 is a major issue for a lot of people

          • MadManOriginal
          • 7 years ago

          What’s the wireless performance like on the NUC? To me, and I’m sure many other enthusiasts, really large transfers are better done over a network. That’s assuming this type of system is used as a secondary PC of some type – bedroom, HTPC, media streamer or whatever – where local storage wouldn’t be all that large. For such system use I’m not sure what large transfers would be done though, since media ought to be streamed from the network as well. System backups are the other (less) common large transfers I can think of besides media.

          I suppose some people might buy these to use as a main PC for ‘fast enough’ basic computing and USB 3.0 would make more of a difference to them, but overall no USB 3.0 isn’t the end of the world for the reasons in the first paragraph it’s just an obvious feature missing from the NUC.

          A very fringe case that would fully justify USB 3.0 is to use these as home servers with USB 3.0 attached drive arrays. But that seems like a kind of silly thing to do because it defeats the purpose of the tiny system and you might as well go with a more regular computer case. The technically noninclined would probably just buy a consumer NAS.,

            • NeelyCam
            • 7 years ago

            [quote<]What's the wireless performance like on the NUC?[/quote<] I don't know - I never got the wireless card for it. I'm using a Gigabit Ethernet, and that seems pretty fast.

      • Deanjo
      • 7 years ago

      The NUC was stillborn.

    • yogibbear
    • 7 years ago

    If they ditched the Nvidia card I’d actually think the barebones was a more attractive offer… Am I crazy?

    Basically just install Win 7, WMC, a bunch of gog games, Steam, and XBMC and you
    re flying. Either put a 128GB SSD and some DDR3 in there and stream videos from your NAS to it, or plug in an external HDD for movies.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 7 years ago

      Not crazy, but a bit eccentric at least. You’d want one with purely the ‘1.1GHz dual core’ and its integrated graphics? (Which I am willing to bet is a dual core Sandy Bridge Celeron.) You wouldn’t be doing much beyond old-school 2D gaming on that, which might be ok, and I’m not sure how it would handle HD video content. I think the two options are pretty decent.

      If you meant that the barebones is a better option than the system with RAM and a HDD, then I agree fully. Which makes you certifiably crazy 🙂

    • Chrispy_
    • 7 years ago

    48 shader cores and 4 ROPs is hardly potent, but I think that will probably run Unreal-engined games like Borderlands2 at 720p with medium details.

    It’s hardly stellar, but heck – 30fps 720p is better than the bestselling consoles!

    • Arclight
    • 7 years ago

    Just a newby consumer asking, do wireless antenas have to look like that? I mean laptops have wireless connection and i don’t see plastic covered rods coming out of their backs….

      • Goty
      • 7 years ago

      If you want decent signal quality when more than ten feet from an access point, then yes, they do.

        • Arclight
        • 7 years ago

        I don’t know anything on this subject, really, i’m just frustrated that a laptop CAN magically do it….while having a slimmer profile. What am i missing?

          • tanker27
          • 7 years ago

          Usually laptop antenna’s run up the side or back of the screen which is normally open.

            • Arclight
            • 7 years ago

            So couldn’t they do something simillar with that thick Zotac case (compared to a ultrabook that is)?

            • tanker27
            • 7 years ago

            Have you even seen a Zotac? The pictures dont do them justice they are really small for what they do. I have one that is in my living room mounted with velcro on the backside of my TV stand. Even if I had it in the open the Antenna’s are not that bad. /shrug

            • willmore
            • 7 years ago

            They could, but there are some differences. A laptop can generally assume that it’s going to be in free space–sitting on your lap or on a desk–and not enclosed in a tight space full of various metal boxes and cords.

            This lets the antennas in a laptop be poorer, but still perform well. In addition, a laptop will be physically larger, so the antennas can enjoy a wider separation from each other–this is important for good reception (for reasons too complex to go into here). For the Zbox, the small form factor of the device requires the antennas to be very close together, so they use better antennas (which can be positioned independently) to make up for that.

            So, it comes down to a space/performance tradeoff.

            • moog
            • 7 years ago

            How close can the antenna be and still have signal diversity?

            • willmore
            • 7 years ago

            Spatial diversity will increase up until 10 wavelengths where it’s considered completely uncorrelated. Polarization diversity can be had for colocated antennas, just put them 90 degrees from each other.

        • Deanjo
        • 7 years ago

        Mac Mini’s easily have a far greater range and they are able to do it without external antennas. As do many consumer routers that have internal antennas only.

          • Bauxite
          • 7 years ago

          I’ll take RP-SMA over internal any time, being able to swap in a directional or extended antenna is a godsend with some setups e.g. digital signage.

          Having played with some of those routers in real uses, they are ‘ok’ but not ideal.
          Designing them is a lot simpler as well, they don’t have an entire system guts to go alongside with, so they can dedicate a lot of pcb and best placement for one function.

          As for macs, RDF

            • Deanjo
            • 7 years ago

            I’m not saying that they are as good but they are nowhere as dismal as Goty makes it out to be.

            • ludi
            • 7 years ago

            How many people buy a Mac Mini and then hide it behind a 42″ plasma and a tangle of A/V cables?

            • Deanjo
            • 7 years ago

            Most don’t. They proudly display it with it’s HDMI and power cable attached. Otherwise they would have to run their little Zotac IR receiver and try to make that POS stand up somewhere.

            • shank15217
            • 7 years ago

            POS? A little extreme there don’t you think?

            • Deanjo
            • 7 years ago

            No I don’t. That IR receiver that they come with is a POS. I have several of them laying in the junk pile.

            • willmore
            • 7 years ago

            My neighbor.

        • shank15217
        • 7 years ago

        Not true, there are internal antennas that have great signals, they are just expensive to engineer for a particular case, example mac mini.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 7 years ago

      Laptops have antennas built into the display.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 7 years ago

    I have to wonder if the HD4000 in the ID83 isn’t faster than the GeForce GT 610 in the ID42.

    [url<]http://www.geforce.com/hardware/desktop-gpus/geforce-gt-610/specifications[/url<] Yeesh. Yes, it's a very tiny box, and it's probably a step up over the integrated graphics in what is undoubtedly the same 1.1Ghz Celeron that's in Acer's Chromebook, but I don't think it'll handle too much in the way of games, indie or otherwise.

      • allreadydead
      • 7 years ago

      Uhm, according to other sites, ID42 is NVIDIA ION platform. So, it should handle some *very* light gaming. Surely, not intended to do so and even PR guys doesn’t mention it.
      The point of having ION is to continue producing that ID4x product line.. Is it viable and/or a good solution to keep ION onboard ? Meh, needa see it in action to say “no”..

      And btw, the new ID8x is ID83 and the it’s precessor named ID84 (Quoted as ID82 in this article).
      /typonazi

        • derFunkenstein
        • 7 years ago

        Anandtech’s writing goes out of its way to explicitly state the “ION Platform” is dead but this is the platform in spirit. I linked the specs for the 610 from nVidia and it’s not terribly promising. The 64-bit memory bus pretty much rules out 1080p and most likely limits even 720p gaming.

          • allreadydead
          • 7 years ago

          Techpowerup goes for a safer “ION Reinvented” definition 😀
          [url<]http://www.techpowerup.com/178353/ZOTAC-Starts-CES-2013-With-New-3rd-Generation-ZBOX-mini-PC.html[/url<] It's basicly Intel Core+NVIDIA 610 as you said. To quote Techpowerup's lines: "The NVIDIA GeForce GT 610 graphics processor enables hardware decode acceleration of popular high-definition video formats, including Blu-ray 3D, outstanding video processing for phenomenal video playback and bitstream audio output capabilities for crystal clear loss-less surround sound. The Intel Core processor provides lightning-fast system responsiveness and additional horsepower to decode new 10-bit video formats such as Hi10P without a single dropped frame. " Wow, it's almost an apple products PR 😛

            • derFunkenstein
            • 7 years ago

            nVidia’s not calling it that, so the ION branding is TPU’s. If you’re such a typonazi you’d know that. 😉

            • allreadydead
            • 7 years ago

            Yep, you are right about NVIDIA part but Zotac goes for “ION Reinvented” 😉
            [url<]http://www.zotac.com/news/pressemitteilungen/artikel/archive/2013/january/article/zotac-starts-ces-2013-with-new-3rd-generation-zbox-mini-pc.html[/url<] They also did not forget the trademark sign. So, they are intentionally and knowingly using ION brand.

          • continuum
          • 7 years ago

          Main reason for the Geforce 610 is hopefully better custom refresh rate support than what Intel is currently offering…

          Although current Intel HD 2500 and 4000 drivers aren’t bad… just not as good.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 7 years ago

      If you really want to know, go searching for reviews of the GT 520 – the GT 610 is a rebadge of that Fermi chip. I looked at it long ago and from what I recall it’s passable for much older, say 5+ years, mid-range gaming (mid-range meaning either game demand-wise, settings, or resolution.) But it would need dedicated memory to be passable, Zotac does put 512MB dedicated on an ITX motherboard that has similar specs.

      • jensend
      • 7 years ago

      As MadMan says, the GT 610 is a rebadge of the 520. [url=http://www.anandtech.com/show/5626/ivy-bridge-preview-core-i7-3770k/11<]It's no better than the HD 4000[/url<]. I think putting in a GT 610 is an absurd move which can only benefit them if consumers think "gee, GeForce means fast gaming!!!" They should have either kept with the integrated solution to improve power/thermals (even slow-clocked HD 2500 variants will only be ~2x slower than the GT 610) or put a worthwhile discrete GPU e.g. something GK107 based in there.

        • jensend
        • 7 years ago

        Curious as to why I’m getting downthumbed here.

          • MadManOriginal
          • 7 years ago

          It’s probably because you’re thinking on an individual component level, rather than a system level. Zotac doesn’t want to make PCs that will fail over time due to thermals. So, a slower processor with a low powered discrete GPU, or a faster processor with IGP, with both providing decent general levels of performance in one way or another. System cost might also be an issue, the i3 3120M may be more expensive than the Celeron and GT 610 put together. I think it’s fine to have both options for variety.

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