Small PCs usually rely on equally small, noisy fans, but Zotac is kicking off Computex 2014 by eliminating active cooling entirely from its latest Zbox C-series nano barebones systems. With amply ventilated cases and large internal heatsinks taking the place of fans, these PCs are geared for silent running.
In order to excise fans from these systems, Zotac is relying on a range of low-voltage mobile CPUs from Intel and AMD, all with TDPs under 12W. Here's the lineup:
|Zbox CI320||Intel Celeron N2930||1.83 GHz (2.16 GHz)||4/4||7.5W||HD Graphics||$149.99|
|Zbox CA320||AMD A6-1450||1.0 GHz (1.4 GHz)||4/4||8W||Radeon HD 8250||$179.99|
|Zbox CI520||Intel Core i3-4020Y||1.5 GHz||2/4||11.5W||HD Graphics 4200||$309.99|
|Zbox CI540||Intel Core i5-4210Y||1.5GHz (1.9GHz)||2/4||11.5W||HD Graphics 4200||$369.99|
The A6-1450 is part of AMD's Temash low-power APU line. The Celeron N2930 is one of Intel's Bay Trail SoCs, while the i3-4020Y and i5-4210Y are both Haswell CPUs. Any of these chips should be fine for productivity and light media tasks, but with only low-power integrated graphics onboard, you won't be pushing any demanding games to their limits.
The average Zbox user probably won't be fragging folks in Battlefield 4, though, and for them, there's a bevy of connectivity options. All Zboxes offer USB 3.0 ports, onboard 802.11ac Wi-Fi, HDMI and DisplayPort connections, and a 3-in-1 card reader. Higher-end models add an eSATA port for fast external storage. Only the highest-end versions have SATA 6Gbps ports, though—lesser units make do with the older 3Gbps standard, which is something to keep in mind if you're loading up your Zbox with the latest SSDs.
Zotac offers each system in two configurations: a standard unit without memory or storage, and a "Plus" version with 4GB of DDR3L RAM and a 64GB SSD pre-installed. Plus variants are each priced at a $100-110 premium over the standard models. According to Zotac, these machines support 2.5" Serial ATA drives but lack mSATA slots for mini SSDs.