Radeons find a home in Zotac’s Magnus ERX480

Zotac keeps finding ways of fitting beefy hardware into its diminutive Zbox Magnus mini-PCs. In the past, the company relied on Nvidia's GPUs and Intel's integrated graphics to drive displays. Now, for the first time, consumers can buy a Zbox powered by a Radeon card. For the new Magnus ERX480 line, Zotac turned to AMD's Radeon RX 480. In fact, this appears to be the first implementation of the RX 480 outside of a desktop.

Zotac says the card in the Zbox has 2304 shader cores and a 256-bit path to memory, so this looks like the full-fat RX 480 that we reviewed last June. The card has access to 4GB of GDDR5 memory, and supports all the features we expect from a modern Radeon, like 4K display output and FreeSync. Zotac paired up the RX480 with Intel's Core i5-6400T processor. This Skylake chip is a low-power quad-core, four-thread unit with a 35W TDP and a 2.2GHz base clock that can turbo up to 2.8GHz.

Zotac's decision to equip the ERX480 with a low-power processor is an interesting one. In the Magnus EN1080 released just last month, for example, the company used a 65W part in the form of the Core i7-6700. Perhaps using power-sipping parts allowed Zotac keep the ERX480 slim and trim. While the EN1080 stands 5" (12.8 cm) tall partly due to its closed-loop liquid cooler, the air-cooled ERX480 is only 2.45" (6.2 cm) tall.

As we've come to expect from Zotac's Zbox mini-PCs, the ERX480 is available in three flavors. The first is a barebones system for which users will need to supply memory, a storage device, and an operating system. In the ERX480 Plus, Zotac includes an 8GB stick of DDR4-2133 RAM, a 120GB M.2 SATA hard drive, and a 1TB 2.5" mechanical hard drive. Finally, Zotac sells a model that includes all of the above plus a Windows 10 license. The ERX480 models haven't yet shown up in online retailers, nor has Zotac revealed the units' pricing. 

Comments closed
    • derFunkenstein
    • 3 years ago

    The smaller GeForce models aren’t as nose-bleeding expensive as I thought they might be. The GTX 1060 version is $999 and the 1070 is $1199 at Newegg. yes, that’s more than you’d pay for individual components, and it doesn’t include RAM, storage, or an OS, but it’s not that bad, honestly.

    [url<]http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16856173139&cm_re=Zotac_magnus-_-56-173-139-_-Product[/url<] [url<]http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16856173138&cm_re=Zotac_magnus-_-56-173-138-_-Product[/url<] Hopefully this will end up closer to the $1000 mark if they want to sell them.

    • shank15217
    • 3 years ago

    Finally! mini PCs with dual NICs, ty Zotac why doesn’t other mini PC makes make dual nic mini PCs.

    • gamoniac
    • 3 years ago

    Dual NIC? Interesting. Does that provide noticeable advantage in gaming?

      • shank15217
      • 3 years ago

      dual nic should be standard on new pcs, there are several use cases for a dual nic mini pcs. One of which might be a bonded link to a NAS storing your media.

    • uni-mitation
    • 3 years ago

    What I am wondering is about thermal throttling. Does such compact design allow for proper dissipation of heat? Am I missing something? I would be interested in reading a review by TR.

    Uni-mitation

    • Hattig
    • 3 years ago

    Not a bad little box that. Could be a decent steam PC.

    Shame the ports on the front aren’t aligned prettier.

    • NTMBK
    • 3 years ago

    That naming scheme really erx me.

    • wingless
    • 3 years ago

    Zotac has become a very interesting company in their short 10-year life. They announced a few other nice mini-PCs and a neat VR backpack as well. Keep an eye on them.

      • ImSpartacus
      • 3 years ago

      Yeah, they carved out a niche that seems to work for them.

      They seem to have the whole “media box cube” down, but is love to see their take on s dual gpu mac pro trashcan-style chassis. I bet they could do something interesting that doesn’t look like it was made by a twelve year old like that one msi case.

      • chuckula
      • 3 years ago

      I have a Zotac GTX-1060 and it’s been great. Never bought one of their full mini-PC systems but they do look very interesting.

      If anything, all the work that’s been done to lower the power consumption of CPUs and GPUs while still maintaining respectable performance should be good for Zotac’s product lineup going forward.

      • David
      • 3 years ago

      It’s like they’ve replaced Shuttle. Shuttle was everywhere for a couple of years and now I had to just look them up to see if they were still around.

    • tipoo
    • 3 years ago

    The Core i5-6400T doesn’t seem bad for something like this. In an age when a dual core i3 can push the majority of games above or near 60fps if the GPU allows, a 35W quad core is probably plenty to pair with a 480.

    I don’t seem to see a price tag on this anywhere on their website?

      • Lord.Blue
      • 3 years ago

      Last line of the article —

      [i<]The ERX480 models haven't yet shown up in online retailers, nor has Zotac revealed the units' pricing.[/i<]

      • EndlessWaves
      • 3 years ago

      It’s only a 2.5Ghz quad core though, so you’re not going to see much more maximum performance than said 3.9Ghz i3 and lower minimum performance.

      Intel don’t offer any higher binned 35-45W skylake dual cores unfortunately. The best ones they do is the i3-6300T running at 3.3Ghz. For comparison the 28W Skylake i7 dually runs at 3.4Ghz dual core turbo so there’s presumably room to hit 3.5-3.6Ghz at least.

      I do wonder if Zotac could have gone for the i3-6320 and spent the money they’d saved on a better cooling system.

      But then it would have had an i3 instead of an i5 and wouldn’t have sold as well. Damn you, Intel marketing department.

      • RdVi
      • 3 years ago

      Problem is that Radeons still perform worse than Geforces when paired with lesser CPUs. Could the lower clock speeds make this a less than ideal pairing?

        • DPete27
        • 3 years ago

        Not sure that’s true. Please provide proof.

          • EndlessWaves
          • 3 years ago

          The two brands definitely respond to lower end CPUs differently, see something like Anandtech’s test of the 845:
          [url<]http://www.anandtech.com/show/10436/amd-carrizo-tested-generational-deep-dive-athlon-x4-845/[/url<] And from other tests I've seen a weaker CPU does seem to impact AMD drivers more often. It's certainly not a simple bottleneck though, and I haven't seen any tests with GCN 4 to see if that has changed the situation.

      • rahulahl
      • 3 years ago

      I’m running an i3 temporarily with a GTX 1080. I get way sub 30 FPS in the games I play. Mainly the crew, forza 3 and division.

        • tipoo
        • 3 years ago

        Some games will definitely struggle, but look at the chart partway through this – many games were even able to hit triple digit framerates! I stand by ‘most’ modern games being able to be near 60fps, it’s just the bottom line falls way below an i5 on the most demanding games.

        [url<]http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-2015-intel-core-i3-6100-review[/url<]

    • chuckula
    • 3 years ago

    We know what you were thinking.
    But we wanted an actual [b<]challenge[/b<] for once. You're welcome. -- Zotac

      • DragonDaddyBear
      • 3 years ago

      So, I was going to compare this to the Magnus 970 as it looks very similar. Then I realized the Magnus CPU in 15W and the GPU is 120W. That’s a net of 50W more heat to dissipate. Impressive indeed.

      EDIT (last time, I swear): Kinda makes me wonder why they didn’t just do that with the GTX 970 last year.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 3 years ago

        There was thermal headroom to be had in the Magnus, to be sure. The only way I could ever get the fans to spin up to the point they were annoying was to run something like Furmark. Otherwise it was barely over ambient.

        I’d have rather seen them go with a 28W Broadwell CPU instead of a full-fat GPU. It would have been much more balanced. Also, as it was, the EN970 maxed out at 2.7GHz dual-core, and I had lots of reservations about its gaming viability over the long haul.

        • Kraaketaer
        • 3 years ago

        They have this exact same machine with the GTX 1060 or 1070 as well. Identical specs except for the GPU.

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