We’re talking tonight with Zotac’s Zbox guru

We have a special guest joining us on the TR Podcast live stream this evening: Jacky from Zotac, who heads up product design for the Zbox series of mini-PCs and barebones systems.

I've known Jacky for years and have always enjoyed talking with him about his inventive creations. He loves what he does and exudes enthusiasm for it. Tonight, Jacky will be introducing us to the Magnus EN970 and talking about the challenge of squeezing that sort of powerful hardware into a small space. We should also have time for some questions from the viewers, so come join the Twitch chat live or post your questions in the comments below.

We'll be live-streaming the TR Podcast at the usual time, 6:30 PM PT/9:30 PM ET, and talking to Jackie for the first part of the show. After that, I understand a few other things happened this week that we might want to discuss. Plan to join us!

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    • therebefish
    • 4 years ago

    will the user be able to upgrade the graphics themselves?

    • Yumi
    • 4 years ago

    Nice to see you have been able to secure a guest again for the podcast.

    It will be nice to hear about the struggle those mini devices pose, I’ll tune in on the edited version once it is done.

    • NTMBK
    • 4 years ago

    Why’s it called Magnus? Got a Swede on the team?

      • UberGerbil
      • 4 years ago

      I don’t know, the only one I’ve heard of — Gustav Magnus — was a German.

      • chuckula
      • 4 years ago

      MAGNUS VER MAGNUSSON!!

      PULL THE PLANE!

      [url<]https://youtu.be/lZFXqQSjHyg?t=51s[/url<]

    • windwalker
    • 4 years ago

    What size is the fan and what is its rotation speed under load?

    • EndlessWaves
    • 4 years ago

    The big question for me is why no DisplayPort? These sorts of MiniPCs are being pushed as a premium product so the inability to drive high end displays (all the 5120×2880 screens are DisplayPort only for example) and the omission of support for the biggest technology to hit PC gaming in years – variable refresh rates – is a major black mark against it.

    Also a discussion about external power supplies would be nice. Partly why they opted for it here (cost I guess) but it would be more interesting to hear what they envision for the future. Do they see external or internal power supplies as being better, are they pushing for a standard form factor/connector so they’re easily integrated/replaced and that sort of thing.

      • Deanjo
      • 4 years ago

      Some of their product does have Display port.

        • EndlessWaves
        • 4 years ago

        I was referring to the EN970 and it’s competitors (Alienware Alpha etc.)

      • UberGerbil
      • 4 years ago

      Personally, I prefer an external power supply for SFF systems. It moves a heat-producing component out of the case and frees up space (or allows the case to be smaller). As long as it’s not a wallwart and has cord on both ends, it’s a win. The only downsides are limited output (but if you need more you want a different case/barebones anyway) and, as you mention, the lack of standardization which makes replacement potentially problematic.

        • Deanjo
        • 4 years ago

        Zotacs just use the standard 19V power supply that so many laptops use. You can find universal laptop adapters easily enough.

      • Ninjitsu
      • 4 years ago

      5120×2880? For what, gaming? (I don’t think these mini PCs can even manage 1080p properly).

      They [i<]would[/i<] benefit from variable refresh though.

        • chuckula
        • 4 years ago

        They’ll do 1080p OK.

        I do agree that non-casual games at 5120×2880 (is that “5K”?) ain’t happening with one of these boxes, but then again a Titan X can’t even really do intense graphics at 5K either.

        • DarkStar1
        • 4 years ago

        This one is running a dual core, quad thread i5 5200u with a GTX970m 3GB (which they’re calling a GTX960 for some reason). It should handle 1080p perfectly fine, but beyond that things get murky. I think that’s why we aren’t seeing display port on these – they’re built with 1080p TVs in mind, not 4K monitors.

        • EndlessWaves
        • 4 years ago

        For space. 5120×2880 is the HighDPI version of 2560×1440.

        I’m a PC enthusiast and while I enjoy gaming I’ve kind of drifted away from being a massive enthusiast due to the circus of social media, advertising and high priced and badly integrated DLC that pervades the gaming industry currently.

        So my next PC should have some gaming ability but it doesn’t need to be a huge amount and I’m prepared to pay for a premium, cutting edge product. I’m probably the intended buyer for this type of machine – I’d rather have something tiny and quiet with mid-range performance than spend the same money and get a high end graphics card.

        But because I’m paying that money I want it to support all the latest technology – at the very least the same as what the cheaper system with the same performance supports.

        As for ‘For what?’, I’d buy a 5120×2880 screen because it gives you both HighDPI and more room than a 3840×2160 screen. I’d certainly game on it, but probably with the light to moderately demanding games (strategy etc,) set to 2560×1440 and scaled up 2x – the sort of thing a 970M/960 would be ideal for.

        (In reality I’m more interested in the likely 5040×2160 ultra-wide screens, but they’re not out yet so I’m using 5120×2880 as an example).

      • DPete27
      • 4 years ago

      Most Zboxes are smaller than any/most internal power supplies. For the intended use of these type systems (on top of a desk or mounted to the back of a monitor/TV) external PSU is the right choice for reasons UberGerbil explained.

        • EndlessWaves
        • 4 years ago

        Several MiniPCs of similar size to the EN970 like Apple’s Mac Mini and Fujitsu Q520/Q920 use internal PSUs, so it doesn’t seem unreasonable to have one even if it bumped the size up by half a litre or a litre.

          • UberGerbil
          • 4 years ago

          And even it was bigger, I’d [i<]still[/i<] rather have an external PSU. It would be interesting to know what percentage of actual HTPC-ish small box purchasers prefer internal vs external. Zotac might, and that might be driving their design decisions. Or they may be trying to build the smallest box they can for a given performance level.

    • DPete27
    • 4 years ago

    Please ask why the [url=https://techreport.com/news/28343/passively-cooled-zotac-mini-pc-packs-core-m-processor<]CI521[/url<] isn't in retail yet.

    • chuckula
    • 4 years ago

    So what’s in Z-box?

      • nanoflower
      • 4 years ago

      Not a head unless it’s a barbie doll head.

      • Terra_Nocuus
      • 4 years ago

      nothing! you stupid, you so stupid!

        • Milo Burke
        • 4 years ago

        Should have gone with the Red Snapper…

          • derFunkenstein
          • 4 years ago

          Very tasty!

      • Deanjo
      • 4 years ago

      Ummm, duh, zombies of course. What the heck do you thing the Z stands for?

      • UberGerbil
      • 4 years ago

      [url<]https://i1.wp.com/cdn.meme.am/instances/58110527.jpg[/url<]

    • DrDominodog51
    • 4 years ago

    It’s nice to see the Podcast having guests from the industry on to talk about their products. Hopefully more representatives from tech companies will be on in the future.

    Edit: I put ‘mice’ instead of nice.

      • nanoflower
      • 4 years ago

      Like AMD_Roy? 😉

      • UberGerbil
      • 4 years ago

      [quote<] I put 'mice' instead of nice.[/quote<]Was that subliminal suggestion to get a guest from Logitech, or a guest from Razer?

        • DrDominodog51
        • 4 years ago

        If I were putting a subliminal suggestion in the comment, I would have put and in it and spelled it ‘amd’.

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