Zotac beefs up lineup of mini-PCs for Computex

Zotac floated a press release across our desks this morning formally announcing its presence at Computex 2016. The release is full of juicy details on new machines in the Zbox E, P, C, and M series that the micro-PC experts will be showing in Taipei next week.

First up is the Magnus EN980, which is the new top dog in Zotac's performance-focused E-series. Despite the name, the EN980 isn't just a refresh of the Magnus EN970. Zotac claims this is the world's first VR-ready mini-PC. For that purpose, Zotac equipped the EN980 with a Core i5-6400 processor and a GeForce GTX 980 graphics card, both of which are desktop-grade parts. All that horsepower comes at a cost, though—the EN980 uses two power connectors instead of one.

The Magnus is larger than most of Zotac's other mini-PCs, but still retains a footprint of just a little over 8" x 8", and is only 5" tall. SFF PCs with this kind of hardware have traditionally had cooling issues, but Zotac says the EN980 shouldn't face that problem, as it's "liquid cooled." We'll have to wait for Computex to see exactly what that means. Despite the dimensions and hardware on offer, Zotac still packs in room for a 2.5" disk, an M.2 slot, and two DDR3 SO-DIMM slots. Connectivity options include 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, USB 3.1, and dual gigabit Ethernet ports.

Next up is the Zbox Pico series. Zotac recently revealed two stick PCs in this lineup with a fixed male HDMI connector on one end. The PI322 and PI330 exchange the fixed HDMI connector for female ports, something which may come in handy in space-constrained situations. Both machines offer Cherry Trail Atom x5 processors, 2GB of LPDDR3, and 32GB of eMMC storage in a fanless casing. In a first for Zotac's Pico series, the PI330 offers both DisplayPort and HDMI outputs.

Zotac's M-series mini-PCs are labeled "multifunction," and could be described as mainstream offerings. The M series is gaining new MI523, MI543, and MI545 models, fitted with Skylake-U processors and styled with Zotac's new matte black design. All three machines have room for a single 2.5" disk and dual DDR3 SO-DIMM slots, and differ primarily in choice of CPU. Offers on hand range from the MI523's Core i3-6100U to the MI545's Core i5-6300U. Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and a pair of USB 3.1 Type-C ports are standard features in most of the lineup. The sole exception is the MI545, which offers twin Gigabit Ethernet ports.

Last but not least, we have the mini-PCs in the C series, whose main focus is silent running. Like the Pico series, these machines have no moving parts. Aside from the passive cooling setup and slightly larger size, these mini-PCs are equivalent to the M series models. The CI523, CI543, and CI545 predictably mirror their M-series counterparts' technical specs and expansion options.

All of these machines will be on display starting May 31 at Zotac's booth in the Computex trade show. They certainly look enticing, and we're curious to see what else Zotac will be bringing to the show. We'll have more information for you next week.

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