Zotac’s Zbox ID42 Plus nettop reviewed

Home-theater PCs are pretty convenient. They can double as PVRs, serve up streaming online content without restrictions, and run PC games right there in your living room. If you happen to lay your hands on some, uh, backups of movies or shows you haven’t recorded yourself, they can play those, too.

Slapping together an HTPC isn’t a small undertaking, though. You can’t just stick any old computer under your TV. Well, you could, but you’d probably regret having a huge black box huffing and puffing while you try to watch Netflix. Ideally, you want a small-form-factor enclosure, power-efficient components, quiet fans, and the right peripherals to make the system comfortable to use from the couch—meaning a remote, some kind of Bluetooth keyboard, and probably a game controller or two. We’ve suggested HTPC configurations along those lines in our system guides before. If you’ve got enough time and money for that kind of a project, it’s a great way to go.

But what if you don’t want to roll your own? What if you just want something you can purchase, maybe customize a little bit, and not have to worry about afterward?

That, folks, is where Zotac’s new Zbox ID42 comes in. This little machine is smaller, more compact, and more integrated than just about anything you’d be able to build with off-the-shelf components. Inside lurks all of the right hardware needed to supplement a high-tech home theater. Okay, all the right hardware except for an integrated TV tuner—but you can just plug in a USB one if you’re so inclined. (The same goes for CableCard devices.) Stick this puppy under your TV, and all the power of a home-theater PC could be yours… with none of the aggravation. At least, that’s the theory.

Today, our job is to pick apart the ID42 and discover whether the theory checks out. Is this really a compelling barebones HTPC, or are you better off building something from scratch?

Let’s find out.

The Zbox ID42 Plus measures 7.4″ x 7.4″ x 2″, which is really quite tiny. It’s powered by a 1.1GHz, Sandy Bridge-based Celeron 847 processor and a GeForce GT 610 GPU with 512MB of dedicated memory. The CPU is a 17W dual-core model that hails from Intel’s mobile lineup. The GeForce, meanwhile, is a desktop solution retrofitted for the Zbox’s cramped confines. You might find this combination unusual, but it definitely makes sense for an HTPC, where graphics (specifically for gaming and HD video playback) matter a fair bit more than raw CPU brawn.

Not that Zotac has selected a particularly speedy discrete GPU, of course. The GeForce GT 610 is the absolute slowest member of Nvidia’s GeForce 600-series desktop lineup. It chugs along with 48 shader ALUs, DDR3 memory, and a 64-bit memory interface. The GT 610 should still be quicker than plain-old Intel integrated graphics, however.

Processor 1.1 GHz Intel Celeron 847 processor
Graphics GeForce GT 610 512MB
Platform hub Intel NM70 Express
Memory 4GB DDR3-1333 (1 SO-DIMM)
Storage Toshiba MQ01ABD050 500GB 5,400 RPM
Audio Realtek ALC892 HD audio
Wireless 802.11n Wi-Fi via Intel Wireless-N 135

Bluetooth 4.0

Ports 1 DVI

1 HDMI

2 USB 3.0 via Renesas controller

2 USB 2.0

2 RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet via dual Realtek controllers

1 digital optical S/PDIF

1 analog headphone out

1 analog microphone in

Expansion 4-in-1 card reader
Dimensions 7.4″ x 7.4″ x 2.01″ (188 x 188 x 51 mm)

Zotac offers the ID42 in two configurations. The vanilla model is priced at $269.99 and lacks memory and storage; you can round it out with two DDR3 SO-DIMMs and a 2.5″ hard-drive or SSD. The ID42 Plus, which we’ll be reviewing today, ships with one 4GB DDR3-1333 module and a 500GB Toshiba hard drive. It costs $399.99.

That pre-baked config may save you some assembly time, but it isn’t the most conducive to snappy performance. The hard drive is a sluggish 5,400-RPM model, and since only one of the two SO-DIMM slots is occupied, the processor’s memory controller is stuck in single-channel mode. Translation: memory bandwidth is cut in half. That would be a graver problem if the Zbox relied on the Celeron’s integrated graphics. Mercifully, it does not.

Questionable storage and memory configurations aside, the ID42 and ID42 Plus are identical. They both feature dual USB 3.0 ports, dual Gigabit Ethernet controllers, and a choice of HDMI and DVI display outputs. Both units have integrated 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0, as well, and both ship with a Windows Media Center-compatible remote and infrared receiver. (More on those accessories in a moment.)

With that kind of hardware and connectivity, the Zbox can do a lot of things. Hook up a Gigabit Ethernet switch and configure the software just so, and it could double as a homebrewed router. Connect a couple of external USB 3.0 hard drives, and you have your very own network-attached storage device. Find a nice Bluetooth game controller, and the Zbox ID42 might even become a compelling console substitute. And of course, as we noted above, you have the option of plugging in a TV tuner and turning the Zbox into a PVR.

There’s only one glaring omission. Neither the ID42 nor the ID42 Plus ships with a copy of Windows. You’ll be forced either to buy your own or to explore the wild, wonderful, and sometimes quite time-consuming world of Linux. The first option will set you back at least $99.99, plus $9.99 for Windows Media Center; the second option is free. Given that Linux now runs Steam and offers solid home-theater functionality via XBMC, option B definitely has some merit—but only if the Zbox’s hardware is properly supported.

We’ll find out if that’s the case very soon. First, we’re going to take a closer look at the Zbox’s hardware.

A closer look

Viewed from the outside, this Zbox doesn’t stray too far from Zotac’s classic formula. In fact, it looks pretty similar to systems the company released over two years ago. Zotac has only made minor tweaks to the design, like trading the old mechanical power button for a touch-sensitive one that sits flush with the front surface.

The power button is accompanied by a couple of activity lights and an infrared receiver. Zotac also supplies an external infrared receiver, which can be used if you want to tuck the Zbox away out of sight.

The external receiver ought to look fairly inconspicuous in a home-theater setting. It does occupy one of the Zbox’s four USB ports, but since Bluetooth connectivity is built in, a Zbox-based HTPC would most likely supplement the remote with wireless peripherals. That would leave the other three USB ports free for other devices.

If laying the Zbox ID42 (or ID42 Plus) flat isn’t for you, Zotac includes a small plastic bracket that enables the system to stand upright. In that configuration, the Zbox’s underbelly is exposed, which reveals a cooling vent and a pink warranty sticker. The sticker peels off easily.

Also in the box: a VESA bracket. The bracket latches on to the Zbox with spring-loaded clips, allowing the system to be bolted onto the back of a monitor or TV, sort of like a ghetto iMac. I imagine that arrangement would make tracking down ports and connectors a little uncomfortable, though. You’d have to crane your neck and reach all the way around to the back of the display, which might be poorly lit and covered with dust. Ew.

Of course, the bracket can be used for other purposes, like if you simply want to bolt the Zbox onto a wall, under a desk, or on the side of an entertainment unit.

In addition to the gaggle of inputs and outputs at the front and back, Zotac supplies a USB 3.0 port on the right side of the machine (or at the top, depending on how it’s sitting). The removable rubber cover should keep the port from gathering dust if you have the Zbox sitting upright.

Since the Zbox lacks a built-in power supply, AC to DC conversion duties are handled by an external power brick. The brick is easy enough to tuck away out of sight, but it does have a green LED that stays on constantly, even when the system is off. If that’s a problem, you can always turn the brick face-down to hide the LED.

All right, time to pop off the lid and expose the Zbox’s innards. Read on! Photos of circuit boards and heatsinks await.

A peek under the hood

Cracking open the Zbox is shockingly easy.

There are two thumbscrews on the left side the machine. Undo those, slide off the bottom panel, and voilà. There’s even a little groove with a finger grip to make the process easier.

Despite featuring a Sandy Bridge CPU and a discrete GPU, the Zbox ID42 Plus only has a single fan. The fan sucks air from the bottom of the system (which is raised slightly on rubber feet) and exhausts it from the left side. If you’ve got the Zbox propped upright, then cool air comes in from the side and blows out the top. That’s sensible, given that hot air is less dense than cool air and therefore tends to rise.

Oh, and yeah, you’ve got easy access to the 2.5″ hard drive.

The drive is mounted on a bracket that comes off with a single thumbscrew. Removing the drive con bracket uncovers the system’s dual SO-DIMM slots. On our ID42 Plus, as we noted, only one of the slots is occupied. There’s nothing stopping you from adding a second memory module, however. You probably should do just that. By today’s standards, enduring single-channel RAM is like a forced stay in an Amish commune.

(All right, maybe not. But maxing out the processor’s memory bandwidth is still a good idea.)

There’s our board. I hope you enjoyed that shot, because in the process of putting the mobo back into the machine, I broke the header that connects it to the chassis’ power button and activity lights. Oops. Turns out the header sticks out from one of the inner walls a little, and the motherboard catches on it when pushed straight down.

Extracting the motherboard in the first place is just as scary. Connectors are dug in on both sides and refuse to break free unless you squeeze and bend the enclosure. You need a wrench, too, because the standoff that accommodates the hard drive’s thumbscrew also doubles as a mounting bolt for the mobo. Oh, and there are a few mystery headers you’ll want to keep track of.

Happily, removing the motherboard is almost completely pointless unless you’re a PC hardware reviewer or a Zotac engineer. Everything you might want to upgrade, like the memory, hard drive, and Wi-Fi adapter, is easily accessible even with the mobo securely bolted down.

…but since we already have the thing out, there’s no harm in peeking under the heatsink, is there?

The heatsink is held in place by four screws. A copper heat pipe runs between the processor and GPU, drawing heat into the fin array.

Here’s a close-up of the chips. The large, rectangular one is the Intel CPU. The small, square one is the Nvidia GF119 graphics processor, which is flanked by four DDR3 memory chips. Both the CPU and GPU are soldered onto the motherboard, obviously, so upgrades are out of the question.

Put together, the two chips have a combined power envelope of around 46W—17W for the processor and 29W for the GPU. The processors run cool enough to allow the Zbox’s fan to switch off completely when the system is at idle. An inactive Zbox does emit a faint whine, presumably because of the hard drive’s motor. The fan only kicks in when CPU- or GPU-intensive applications are run. Even at full tilt, it produces a toneless whoosh that’s quite tame and reasonably easy to tune out.

Okay, enough nosing around. Let’s load up an operating system and see how this puppy handles.

With Windows 8 Professional

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re already familiar with the highly intricate and sophisticated process of installing Windows on a new computer. (Insert installation media, click “Next” a few times, reboot.) So, I’ll spare you the details. The only trick here is that the Zbox ID42 Plus lacks an optical drive, so you’ve got to load the installation files onto a USB thumb drive before proceeding. Microsoft has some tools and guides to help you do that.

Getting the Zbox fully armed and operational requires one additional step: installing drivers. Somewhat bafflingly, Zotac ships the Zbox’s drivers on a DVD. I guess they assume you own another computer capable of reading it. The alternative is to hit the downloads section of the company’s website, but that didn’t work for me. Selecting either “ID42” or “ID42 Plus” in the drop-down menu yielded zero available downloads. “Fine,” I thought. “I’ll just copy the DVD’s contents onto my main PC and transfer them to the Zbox over the network.” Great idea, except that once the files were transferred, the main installer executable refused to proceed. It said something about not being able to access the installation disc—even though all the files were right there in the same directory. Doh.

I might have had more luck copying everything to a USB thumb drive, but I didn’t have any spares with enough capacity. (The DVD contents add up to about 4.3GB.) In the end, I dug around the installer files and manually loaded drivers one by one. This manual installation worked, but it wasn’t exactly quick or easy. Ah, if only Zotac had shipped the system with the required drivers on a thumb drive…

Oh well, at least everything worked nicely afterward. The Zbox connected to my Wi-Fi network, and it responded dutifully to commands from the remote. The remote sort of worked in the Modern UI environment—I could use the directional pad to select and open tiles on the Start screen—but it proved more useful once I’d installed Windows Media Center.

Speaking of media centers, how well does the Zbox ID42 Plus handle high-definition video? To find out, I took a page out of our mobile test suite and measured CPU utilization while playing two versions of the Looper trailer: a 1080p .mov file loaded up in Windows Media Player and a 1080p YouTube video running inside Chrome. Windows’ Performance Monitor utility kept track of minimum and maximum CPU utilization during each run. Each video was played three times, and I only recorded the lowest figures from each set of runs, in order to rule out potential spikes from other processes.

CPU % (low) CPU % (high) Result
Looper H.264 1080p 0.0 23.4 Perfect
Looper YouTube 1080p (Flash 11.5) 32.0 78.1 Perfect

The Celeron 847 definitely breaks a sweat with high-def Flash video. CPU utilization peaked at nearly 80%, and the fan whooshed along merrily throughout. I didn’t notice any obvious skipping in the video, though, and the audio stream always remained in-sync. Just as with the .mov file, playback was nice and smooth.

Next up: gaming.

My game testing on the Zbox ID42 Plus was a little less formal. The idea was to run a nice cross-section of games and to get a feel for overall fluidity at different detail levels. Empirical benchmarking isn’t terribly well-suited to such endeavors, especially when one is testing a single, isolated system that has few peers on the market—and even fewer in our labs. Still, having some numbers is helpful. The solution was to jot down, for each game, seat-of-the-pants impressions and ballpark frame rates as reported by Fraps. You’ll find my testing notes for each game below.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

1920×1200 — High preset — Single-digit FPS in Whiterun. Very sluggish.

1280×720 — Medium preset — Around 30 FPS, closer to 20 during action. Not terribly smooth.

1280×720 — Low preset — 40+ FPS in both Whiterun and surroundings. Smooth, playable, but not very pretty. (No antialiasing.)

Borderlands 2

1280×720 — Auto settings (ambient occlusion on; normal bullet decals; far foliage distance; high texture quality, game detail, and view distance; low PhysX; no FXAA, depth of field, or anisotropic filtering) — 20-30 FPS in starting area. Laggy, jagged, ugly.

1280×720 — Tweaked settings (disabled ambient occlusion; set foliage distance to near; set textures, game detail, and distance to medium) — Almost no improvement.

1280×720 — Lowest possible settings — 30+ FPS. Some dips below that. Quite ugly, but playable-ish. Exploration is okay. Combat is feasible but awkward, with frequent dips to around 20 FPS.

DiRT Showdown

1280×720 — Low preset, no antialiasing — Around 25 FPS, frequent dips into the teens.

1280×720 — Ultra-low preset, no antialiasing — A few FPS higher in smooth parts, but still drops into the teens. Playable, but visibly choppy/inconsistent. Not a great experience.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

1280×720 — Tweaked settings (Very low shadows; bilinear textures; medium detail for models, textures, effects, and shaders; no FXAA, MSAA, vsync, or motion blur) — Consistently over 30 FPS with rare dips. Reasonably smooth overall, but perhaps not the best for serious multiplayer.

1280×720 — Lowest possible settings — More or less the same. Feels like the CPU is a bottleneck. The frame rate dips and the game becomes choppy when lots of players converge in the same area. Potentially poor experience in big multiplayer matches.

Edge

1920×1200 — Default settings (no obvious options to change) — 80+ FPS, silky smooth. Essentially perfect.

To make a long story short: casual games good, serious games bad.

Seeing the Zbox struggle with Skyrim and DiRT Showdown wasn’t entirely unexpected, considering the low-end hardware inside. The inconsistent performance in CS:GO was a little more disappointing, though. That game is based on Valve’s aging Source engine, and while it looks better than the old Counter-Strike: Source, it’s still visibly dated. A modern PC with a discrete GPU like the Zbox ID42 Plus really ought to handle it better.

As I noted in my, uh, notes, the 1.1GHz Celeron may simply be holding back the discrete GeForce—and not just in CS:GO. The fact that lowering graphical detail sometimes had little effect lends weight to that hypothesis. It’s kind of a shame. If Zotac hadn’t gone with the absolute slowest Intel and Nvidia solutions on offer, the ID42 Plus might be a much more capable home-theater gaming rig. As it is, though, the system will largely confine you to casual titles and classics from yesteryear. Based on what I saw in Edge, casual titles that use either basic 3D or 2D-only graphics should run well on the Zbox. Really, anything aimed at folks using low-end PCs with Intel integrated graphics should play smoothly enough.

With Ubuntu Linux 12.10

Let’s say you have neither the desire nor the inclination to spend $100 (or more) on a Windows 8 license. Let’s say you don’t care for most Windows games, and you’re okay with getting your hands dirty by delving into the command line once in a while. In that case, installing Linux on the Zbox could be your best bet.

I gave it a shot, largely to see how difficult it would be to get everything working. My past experiences with Linux distributions have been… interesting. I have not-so-fond memories of wrangling with audio support and wrecking X.org while trying to enable hardware 3D acceleration with binary drivers. Some people claim Linux is only free if your time is worthless, and I’ve always tentatively agreed with that sentiment—at least as far as commodity PCs are concerned. (I’m well aware of Linux’s success in servers and mobile/embedded devices.)

This time, however, I was pleasantly surprised.

I grabbed the latest 64-bit release of Ubuntu Linux (version 12.10) and copied it to a USB thumb drive using the Universal USB Installer utility. The installation was completely painless—easier in some respects than the Windows 8 setup. Graphical performance in the freshly installed Ubuntu desktop was quite poor, but that was easily resolved by hopping into the Additional Drivers settings pane and installing the latest experimental Nvidia driver. That only required a handful of clicks, and I didn’t even have to visit the Nvidia website. Neato.

My first act as owner of a freshly configured Linux build was to install Steam. I mean, how cool would it be to get Team Fortress 2 working on this thing? Right?

Steam for Linux is still in beta, but getting it running in Ubuntu is surprisingly straightforward. I just followed the instructions here—which, as it turned out, simply involved downloading and running the Steam Client .deb installer. The Ubuntu Software Center took care of the rest. After that, I was able to log into my Steam account and download some games. A few of the titles I’d purchased for Windows (TF2, Braid, and Trine) were listed in my library. I also had the option to peruse Steam’s growing collection of Linux games (mostly casual and indie offerings), all within the familiar Steam interface.

And yes, Steam’s Big Picture mode worked. Animations were smooth, and the software even recognized and responded to the Zbox’s bundled remote.

Overpowered with giddiness, I fired up Team Fortress 2. It crashed once in the server browser, but that didn’t stop me. I eventually made it into a multiplayer game and started fragging away. At 1280×720 with medium/low detail settings, no antialiasing, and no HDR or motion blur, frame rates peaked in the triple digits in quiet areas and settled to around 30 FPS in heavy combat. That would have been more than acceptable, except the game also tended to skip at random intervals, especially right after a level load. It was like the system was running out of memory and the sluggish mechanical hard drive was picking up the slack.

In the interest of scientific rigor, I installed TF2 in Windows and tried the same map at the same settings. I even managed to find the same multiplayer game. Peak frame rates were a little lower this time, but there was no trace of the skipping I’d experienced before. The game ended up feeling more fluid overall.

I’m not sure what was wrong with Linux, and I unfortunately didn’t have time to troubleshoot. Our contact at Zotac didn’t seem to know what the problem was, either. That said, considering Valve’s Linux ports are still in beta, and considering how easy it was to get TF2 working, these early results are quite promising. I reckon things can only get better from here.

My gaming session over, I looked into a suitable substitute for Windows Media Center. The most popular alternative seems to be XBMC, which has a similar 10-foot interface with all kinds of nifty functionality built in, including support for remotes.

Version 11 of XBMC was available in the Ubuntu Software Center. I had to pop into the command line to install version 12, which had come out the day before, but all I did there was cut and paste commands from the XBMC website—not exactly rocket science. Once I was done, XBMC happily obeyed commands from the Zbox’s remote, and I was able to use the Wi-Fi to play back content across the network. Audio and video worked smoothly (even in HD), with no tweaks or ugly command-line wrangling required.

Even more impressively, the remote’s sleep and wake buttons actually worked, both in XBMC and at the Ubuntu desktop. Being able to wake up the system with the click of a remote is a crucial feature for an HTPC. The Zbox did it beautifully in Linux, right out of the box.

All in all, I think it’s fair to say Ubuntu is a very viable—and, indeed, compelling—option for the Zbox. Yes, you’re going to miss out on serious Windows games… but the Zbox struggles with those, anyway. Ubuntu is a nice fit for the hardware, both in terms of driver support and capabilities.

Conclusions

I don’t think I would pay $399.99 for a Zbox ID42 Plus. Instead, I would probably grab the barebones ID42 for $269.99 and throw in a dual-channel memory kit and a 7,200-RPM hard drive. With a 4GB Crucial bundle and a WD Scorpio Black 750GB, the total price would be about $387. Given Zotac’s questionable choice of sluggish storage and single-channel memory in the ID42 Plus, not to mention the fact that the chassis is childishly easy to crack open, the barebones option is more sensible.

Install Ubuntu Linux with XBMC and Steam, and you could have a pretty solid (and pretty affordable) all-purpose HTPC and network-attached storage device. As I pointed out earlier, the system should support USB TV and CableCard tuners, and the presence of dual Ethernet controllers makes it a potential router substitute. The fact that the Zbox has USB 3.0 connectivity means the storage can be augmented without compromising performance, as well.

Zotac deserves praise for putting together such a versatile machine—and for doing so without sacrificing looks and stealth. The ID42 is quiet, and its two-tone chassis looks pretty slick. Sure, the glossy black panels will accumulate dust, but shiny black plastic is almost standard fare for home-theater equipment.

That said, it’s pretty clear the ID42 isn’t for everybody. Folks looking for a serious couch gaming system will have to look elsewhere, as will those seeking something with ample storage and out-of-the-box TV tuning capabilities. The same goes for people who want their HTPC to double as a snappy desktop system. (Web browsing on our ID42 Plus was a tad sluggish, and application load times suffered from the slow bundled hard drive.) Such users will likely be better served by custom-built solutions with faster processors, Mini-ITX or microATX motherboards, and real desktop graphics cards. Everybody else ought to at least consider something like the ID42 for their home theater, though.

Comments closed
    • sarahsmith320o
    • 7 years ago
    • DancesWithLysol
    • 7 years ago

    Does the Zbox ID42 support Intel Quick Sync?

    • Chrispy_
    • 7 years ago

    48-shader, Geforce 610GT:
    [quote<]casual games good, serious games bad.[/quote<] Makes you wonder why they bothered; For the same price Zotac paid for the 610GT (and the thermal envelope it needs) wouldn't they have been better off upgrading the celeron to an i3 instead?

    • oldDummy
    • 7 years ago

    Good Job.
    Glad to see Linux mentioned in the same sentence with windows regarding games. Long time coming.

    • NeelyCam
    • 7 years ago

    You know.. in February 2011 Sandy Bridge chips were already out and widely available everywhere. Now, in February 2013, we still have to wait for 6mo before Haswell comes out.

    Two-year tick-tock is dead. Damn you AMD for screwing up!

      • MadManOriginal
      • 7 years ago

      You’re forgetting Ivy Bridge silly Neely. It’s not quite 1 year between tick or tock any more but it’s not terrible either.

        • HisDivineOrder
        • 7 years ago

        It’s about 1.5 years now instead of 1 year for each tick or tock to come. However, all indications are that Haswell will be a much slower ramp up compared to IB, which is probably why Intel went to the trouble of devising even lower power spec’ed IB’s recently.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 7 years ago

      Intel actually had a couple big mis-steps. The Sandy Bridge MCH issue screwed with early availability in 2011, the 22nm issues pushed back Ivy Bridge to the point reviews came out on 4/23/12 (based on TR’s review), and now Haswell is going to be June. Intel just has such a ridiculous lead that even when they TRY to screw up like that, AMD can’t get it together.

        • chuckula
        • 7 years ago

        From the rumors, the delay in Haswell isn’t technological but market driven. Apparently the OEMs asked Intel to push back the main Haswell launch until June so they could clear out inventory beforehand.

      • TheBulletMagnet
      • 7 years ago

      [quote<] Damn you AMD for screwing up![/quote<] Yeah dammit AMD for screwing up and meaning I can't go and buy Intel when I want to! That is so ridiculous...

    • Dr.Frequency
    • 7 years ago

    So, It seems like I will have to wait until they launch another small factor PC but with a powerful Processor (I mean, come on! it’s a Celeron) maybe with a Core i3 or an i5. I like the fact that this ID42 haves GeForce GT 610 GPU, it supports a lot of Memory (16GB), but this ID42 lacks on Processor.

    • LoneWolf15
    • 7 years ago

    I need Zotac to make one model that can fit an optical drive, be it 3.5″ or slim (notebook).

    If I’m using it as an HTPC, I still need the ability to play the occasional DVD or Blu-Ray disc. This reason alone means I’ll build rather than buy.

      • NeelyCam
      • 7 years ago

      Asrock Vision [i<]might[/i<] work for you, but it's pretty expensive, and Newegg ratings point to reliability concerns.. But it's a small-form-factor high-performance HTPC with a BluRay drive

      • Nomgle
      • 7 years ago

      They have heaps of models with an optical drive – [url<]http://www.zotac.com/products/mini-pcs/zbox-blu-ray/product/zbox-blu-ray/category/mini-pcs.html[/url<]

    • asdzxc57
    • 7 years ago

    Wouldn’t it be nice if Netflix and Amazon supported Linux for streaming?

      • chuckula
      • 7 years ago

      Netflix needs work but:
      [url<]http://ostatic.com/blog/amazon-com-includes-linux-users-in-new-movie-streaming-service[/url<]

      • Cyril
      • 7 years ago

      You can get Netflix on Linux:

      [url<]http://lifehacker.com/5963726/netflix-finally-comes-to-ubuntu-in-the-form-of-an-unofficial-desktop-app[/url<]

    • derFunkenstein
    • 7 years ago

    They couldn’t go with a 17W Core i3? Yes the price would undoubtedly be higher, but it’d be much more interesting. For reference, tray price from Intel’s ARK shows $225 for a 1.8GHz 3217U vs. $134 for a Celeron 847. I think that’s $89 well spent, though probably more than $89 increase in retail price.

    edit: Pentium B997 is also $134 (tray price) but I can’t tell if it’s LGA or BGA. I assume because it’s 17W that it’s BGA. And it’s nearly 50% faster – [url<]http://ark.intel.com/products/69360/Intel-Pentium-Processor-997-2M-Cache-1_60-GHz[/url<]

      • MadManOriginal
      • 7 years ago

      I too noticed that there are faster drop-in replacement Celerons with lower tray prices, I think this CPU must have a deep discount. But I agree that an i3 with HD4000 graphics (ie: mobile) would be superior, or at least a good option. Some videophiles might still prefer the .004 framerate difference and postprocessing of the NV GPU.

      *Checked on it before posting because I remember them announcing one..here’s a Core i3 3120M HD4000 version: [url<]http://www.zotac.com/products/mini-pcs/zbox/intel/product/intel/detail/zbox-id83/sort/crdate/order/DESC/amount/10/section/specifications.html[/url<]

        • derFunkenstein
        • 7 years ago

        That’s sort of better, but if 15″ notebooks can come with decent CPUs AND discrete graphics, there’s no reason this 2″-tall machine can’t. Loads of notebooks available with 640M and Core i5s. Sure they’re more expensive, but it’s worth it.

    • Dr.Frequency
    • 7 years ago

    Does it worth to put this ID42 the 16GB of Memory and a Samsung 840 Pro 256GB SSD? I will be using this ID42 for 1080p Video Playing (mkv mostly), BitTorrent downloads, Audio editing (SoundForge), Music Playing, I need the PC to be on all the time, so I think I will only reboot it once a week. When I play a 1080p Movie, the PC should be downloading more films from the Internet at the same time in the background.

    All your replies will be helpful. I’m seriously planning on acquiring this Zotac ZBOX ID42.

      • Deanjo
      • 7 years ago

      Guess that depends on your planned uses.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 7 years ago

      16GB and a 256GB SSD seem like overkill to me, the former because it’s a lot of RAM for the limits of a 1.1GHz Celeron, the latter because it seems like a lot of storage for what should be a secondary system. Maybe a large SSD is justifiable for someone who knows they’ll use the space though.

      But overall…no, no, no since you mention Audio Editing. Maybe I’m out of the loop but I don’t think you’d want such a slow CPU to do real audio editing (more than just encoding/transcoding, and even then it will be slow). Doesn’t real audio editing still use all the speed you can give it? You’d also want to be sure to be able to get very low latency which such a non-expandable system might make hard. You’re better off looking at a mini-ITX system with a Core i5 I’d think.

    • Sam125
    • 7 years ago

    That’s a surprising amount of functionality in something that looks like a wi-fi router. This box could definitely benefit from a mini-ITX Trinity or Richland setup.

    • uni-mitation
    • 7 years ago

    I am quite sure that gaming will bring Linux to the mainstream, if it doesn’t, I feel it would be not because of the platform’s superiority to that of Windows, but due to foul play.

    Like others have said, I’d love to see all that good analysis that TR is known for focused on Linux Gaming as things become more stable in Linux regarding gaming.

      • ermo
      • 7 years ago

      Uhm … yeah. Because TR’s editors are known to [i<]love[/i<] Linux and "ugly command-line wrangling" as Cyril so succintly put it. Admittedly [i<]slightly[/i<] unfair snarkiness aside, I expect that Linux, particularly Ubuntu given its consumer focus, will become a standard benchmarking target as soon as the Steam client gets out of beta. And once that happens, I expect that more people will say goodbye to Microsoft and Intel. I could easily envision owning a Tegra 4 powered XBMC HTPC w/4 cores@~2.0GHz, 2GB RAM and GeForce graphics running Ubuntu before the end of 2013. With no Microsoft nor Intel tax to worry about, such a system could end up being cheap-ish as well. Ah well, a man can dream, can't he?

        • Ethyriel
        • 7 years ago

        Man, if Valve released something like that, with Steam and XBMC-like functionality rolled into a solid 10 foot interface, it would be love at first sight. Get Netflix and Pandora on there and I’d strongly question the need to ever own a console or desktop again.

        As it is, I’m pretty sure I’ll go back to PC gaming sometime this year. I can afford the up front cost of a decent gaming PC again, and the Steam sales make up for it in the long run. Give me a Steam console that I can fairly inexpensively replace every 2-3 years… hell yes.

        I doubt we’ll see it ARM based any time soon, though, it’s would just be too much work to port most engines.

    • Bensam123
    • 7 years ago

    For $269 you can put together a arguably better mini-itx system with a SSD. Prebuilts are neat and everything, but they still don’t reflect the cost of their internal components.

      • Cyril
      • 7 years ago

      Would be interested to see you spec something out.

        • Bensam123
        • 7 years ago

        [url<]http://secure.newegg.com/WishList/PublicWishDetail.aspx?WishListNumber=29809468[/url<] $261.93 I would've went with a AMD FM2 combo, but there are sadly only three mini-itx motherboards on Newegg for some reason (FM2 or otherwise). I'm sure someone would've cried foul if I moved it to a small micro-atx enclosure. I added a bluetooth and wifi adapter, S/H for me shows $3.99. That has a 32GB SSD on it, but I assume most people will be streaming their content locally or through the net, so that's not a big issue. The Zotac wins by being about half as thick and a little shorter, but that's the price you pay... The Zotac has no where near the performance of what I built either. You can find smaller cases too. I just picked one with good ratings There are really a lot of different options you could go with... Processor, motherboard (the one I picked out has a remote for a nice touch ^^), cases... That's why so many people have been asking for TR to do HTPC builds.

          • Deanjo
          • 7 years ago

          The graphics are still better on the Zotac as is the wifi (the adapter you picked is only 150mbit) The SB graphics still cannot give you frame rate accurate playback which is its weak point.

            • Bensam123
            • 7 years ago

            Woooh?

            You’re welcome to pick from one of the many other cheap adapters on Newegg if that’s really a dealbreaker for you. 150Mbps will cover any streaming needs. I’ve never heard of ‘framerate accurate playback’… But I’m sure it plays flash videos just fine.

            A GT610 is pretty shotty, as are any of the 610-640s. They can be one of any number of different rebadged graphics processors, not even the same series. Basically anything under a 650 from Nvidia isn’t worth buying, let alone representative of the brand name.

            [url<]http://www.anandtech.com/show/5845/nvidia-launches-fermi-based-geforce-gt-610-gt-620-gt-630-into-retail[/url<] It may seem hard to believe, but it's definitely on par with crappy Intel graphics.

            • Deanjo
            • 7 years ago

            [quote<]You're welcome to pick from one of the many other cheap adapters on Newegg if that's really a dealbreaker for you. 150Mbps will cover any streaming needs.[/quote<] In theory, yes but most 150 Mbit adapters connect at a much lower rate and have issues streaming full bitrate rips. [quote<]A GT610 is pretty shotty, as are any of the 610-640s. They can be one of any number of different rebadged graphics processors, not even the same series. Basically anything under a 650 from Nvidia isn't worth buying, let alone representative of the brand name.[/quote<] The GT-610 is a rebrand of the GT-520 which still offers better performance the the HD 3000 let alone plain old Intel HD graphics right across the board in terms of graphics rendering and video playback. The GT520 is even capable of decoding 4k streams and 3D playback, something the Intel HD graphics cannot do found in your processor. BTW, the GT-520/GT-610 has the same video playback engine as the higher end cards so your conclusion that anything less then a 650 is bubkus. [quote<]I've never heard of 'framerate accurate playback'... But I'm sure it plays flash videos just fine.[/quote<] If all you are playing is flash then you are fine. Unfortunately Intel HD has an issue with playing framerate accurate film speeds. [url<]http://www.anandtech.com/show/4083/the-sandy-bridge-review-intel-core-i7-2600k-i5-2500k-core-i3-2100-tested/7[/url<]

            • Bensam123
            • 7 years ago

            Full bitrate rips… as in a raw bluray download? Who plays or uses those besides people doing content editing?

            150Mbps includes slower speeds, you’d be fine streaming at 75Mbps and that’s an expected transfer rate.

            I think you’re overestimating Nvidia graphics simply because of the name. There low end products are complete poop. A GT520 has worse performance in some cases then a GT220 (that’s a card that’s over six generations old).

            [url<]http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item=nvidia_geforce_gt520&num=4[/url<] That's the only review I could find. A video playback engine isn't required to play video or even play video back fluidly. Almost no one uses 4k video and those that do aren't going to be using it on a HTPC anytime soon. Even then, the CPU I listed is more then two times faster then what is in the Zbox. TWO TIMES. Did you look at the processors? I believe you were pushing for 4k video last year in the same manner and we're just as close at having it at home as we were then. I have used Intel graphics and I've encountered no issues with video playback. I simply think you're digging hard here... Such as faulting me for a 150Mbps adapter... Looking at your link, you're definitely digging hard if you're faulting Intel for not having 24hz refresh settings.

            • Deanjo
            • 7 years ago

            [quote<]Full bitrate rips... as in a raw bluray download? Who plays or uses those besides people doing content editing?[/quote<] Many people that archive their own blurays. My entire bluray collection is ripped to losses mkv (minus audio streams I never use and subs). [quote<] think you're overestimating Nvidia graphics simply because of the name. There low end products are complete poop. A GT520 has worse performance in some cases then a GT220 (that's a card that's over six generations old).[/quote<] Nope, not underestimating it at all. The GT-520/GT-610's decoder is vdpau generation D decoder. The same decoder found in the GT640 +. The GT-520 architecture actually has more in common with kepler then fermi. [url<]http://www.anandtech.com/show/4380/discrete-htpc-gpus-shootout/11[/url<] [url<]ftp://download.nvidia.com/XFree86/Linux-x86/313.18/README/supportedchips.html[/url<] Even in linux and openGL, the performance of the GT-520 is even faster the the HD 3000 chipset. [quote<]A video playback engine isn't required to play video or even play video back fluidly. Almost no one uses 4k video and those that do aren't going to be using it on a HTPC anytime soon. Even then, the CPU I listed is more then two times faster then what is in the Zbox. TWO TIMES. Did you look at the processors? I believe you were pushing for 4k video last year in the same manner and we're just as close at having it at home as we were then.[/quote<] Playing back a 1080p stream via raw CPU is more then your choice of processor can handle. Your CPU has zero h264 decode acceleration in linux as well. Trust me I have all the above mentioned products running in linux as well as systems with HD 4000 graphics and there is damn good reason why those HTPC boxes have GT-520's in them. [quote<] I have used Intel graphics and I've encountered no issues with video playback. I simply think you're digging hard here... Such as faulting me for a 150Mbps adapter... Looking at your link, you're definitely digging hard if you're faulting Intel for not having 24hz refresh settings.[/quote<] Not digging at all. Basing it on real world experience. BTW it is ironic that you post links to a benchmark suite that I am co-contributor to.

            • Bensam123
            • 7 years ago

            I think many people is a bit of a overstatement. You seem to fall into the odd category. The small category that actually archives their blu-rays… and even smaller that then decides not to encode them. Like I said there are other options though and that was the whole reason for pointing this out to Cyril and then building one at 4am off a dueling gauntlet.

            I don’t know why you’re pointing me to an anand article about raw video decoding. It sucks all around, that was my point. It could be amazing in one teeny-tiny nitch situation, just like that $12 150Mbps adapter wont work for another niche situation and you’ll have to spend $15 on a different adapter instead. For instance the average 1080p encoded video uses about 7Mbps of bandwidth, depending on how much action is on the screen. 80Mbps is a far cry from that.

            Because their processor sucks… Like I said, you’re in the extreme minority on this one. I’d love to see my dad rip raw blu-rays and then try to play them from a HTPC, but that’s just not going to happen… Or Gma… or mom… or my brother, friends, friends of friends, or even myself.

            A standard HTPC build scenario is based around building a PC for the majority of people, you are not the majority of people… Your ridiculously outlandish conditions are also not for the majority of people. Chances are the majority of people will be playing Youtube content, Netflix, light/casual gaming, and some 1080p h264 videos across the network… more then likely 720p due to the space 1080p takes up. This works for all of the above. (We’ve been down this road before where you say how awesome something is for this tiny little scenario and then you play it to death… Sounds a bit like Nix)

            I suppose we’re both overlooking the fact that you can plop a midrange graphics card in the above system… including a $20 GT610 or you could simply buy a motherboard that matches your choice of integrated graphics, there are a ton of them… No lie, go check for yourself. I’d be buying a AMD card in that price range though as all the Nvidia choices are pretty much junk, as what I said earlier.

            So all of this is a moot point when the whole goal was to build a system for said pricepoint for the average consumer.

            “BTW it is ironic that you post links to a benchmark suite that I am co-contributor to.”

            *golfclap*

            • Deanjo
            • 7 years ago

            Perhaps you should go read some forums like doom9, xbmc, myth, etc and see what their recommended setups are and what people are using. The HTPC crowd is not your media box crowd.

            [quote<]I suppose we're both overlooking the fact that you can plop a midrange graphics card in the above system... including a $20 GT610 or you could simply buy a motherboard that matches your choice of integrated graphics, there are a ton of them... No lie, go check for yourself. I'd be buying a AMD card in that price range though as all the Nvidia choices are pretty much junk, as what I said earlier.[/quote<] For a windows based system sure, for a Linux based system you are in for a world of hurt. [url<]http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=MTI5Mzk[/url<]

            • derFunkenstein
            • 7 years ago

            Worth noting that for $269 the Zotac doesn’t have RAM or HDD. This doesn’t have a GeForce 610. For roughly the same $110 (for SSD+RAM or GPU, respectively) you can make Bensam123’s system way faster than the Zotac. You’d potentially wind up with a GTX 650 if the PSU can handle it.

            It’s also way bigger. 13″ by 8.5″ is huge compared to the Zotac.

            Still, I’d probably go Bensam123’s route than with one of these. Just too slow.

            • Bensam123
            • 7 years ago

            Ah, I thought it came with memory based on the specifications in the table.

            The GT610 isn’t anything special as I noted to Deanjo. It’s a rebadged 520, which has similar performance (and worse in some cases) to a GF220. You’re talking Nvidias version of Intel integrated graphics.

            • Deanjo
            • 7 years ago

            It may be inferior in openGL performance but far superior in video acceleration which is the key component in an HTPC.

            • Bensam123
            • 7 years ago

            For 4K videos and raw blu-ray rips? That’s not a typical scenario for anyone.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 7 years ago

            even then, it’s most likely insufficient for such hugeness.

            • Deanjo
            • 7 years ago

            Nope, runs 4k fine.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 7 years ago

            Other than requiring a pair of DP1.1 cables. 4k resolutions on a single cable won’t be available until Haswell. nVidia and AMD have already figured this out.

            • Deanjo
            • 7 years ago

            It still can decode 4k video fine. Displaying the output is another matter.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 7 years ago

            but if you can’t do it end-to-end what’s the point?

            • Deanjo
            • 7 years ago

            You still can play and view the media. That’s the point. No different then trying to view a 1080 encode on a 720 screen, you still can at least play it.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 7 years ago

            99% (a figure I just made up, but you get the point) of “720” displays are actually 1366×768, so using 1080 video has at least some merit.

            • Deanjo
            • 7 years ago

            You are still scaling down.

            • Bensam123
            • 7 years ago

            ROFL…

            • Deanjo
            • 7 years ago

            So you re-encode and downscale your video to fit the resolution of your device then I take it?

            • Bensam123
            • 7 years ago

            You know the knee jerk -1s make you a rather unfun person.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 7 years ago

            The spec table is for the $400 model that they tested. It’s all in the text.

            • Ethyriel
            • 7 years ago

            Personally I’m mostly happy with my E-350 based Zotac, but if I were to upgrade now, I’d probably do something like this:

            ASRock FM2A85X-ITX – $100
            AMD A4-5300 – $55
            Lian-Li PC-Q12B – $140

            It’s a little bigger, but much nicer looking than the Zotac. Unfortunately, I don’t think the stand on that case is removable. But for $300, it’s quite a bit faster than the Zotac reviewed here, and it’s a lot more customizable. I can’t even unplug the annoying power LED on this damned thing, and the small fan is rather whiny.

            Actually I’d go with an HD-Plex passive case and deal with the limited compatibility list, but that’s definitely out of price-competitiveness with the Zotac. The case itself is almost as expensive, for the H3s.

          • Sam125
          • 7 years ago

          *golfclap*

            • Bensam123
            • 7 years ago

            *curtsies*

            • Sam125
            • 7 years ago

            Charmed…I’m sure. /Snooty British Accent

            Also, someone keeps removing my +1s. :p

            • Bensam123
            • 7 years ago

            lol, You were initiating pleasantries with me… I urinated on Chuckula a few posts down so he’s probably out for vengeance right now with his extra accounts. XD

            *hangs the beware of the Chuckula sign on his door*

            • Sam125
            • 7 years ago

            Ummm…okayyy. I don’t know what you two have against each other but if it involves peeing on one another, then I won’t be a part of it. You should probably keep that part of you to yourself. lol

            • Bensam123
            • 7 years ago

            Now you know the risks of asking about things you don’t understand…

            • Sam125
            • 7 years ago

            I think you may be a bit confused as to who has a dim understanding of what.

            *Hint* It’s not me. 😉

    • mi1stormilst
    • 7 years ago

    The barebones system are always a real disappointment to me. I can build a much more suitable system for under $500 based on Trinity. We need barebones systems or mini-itx systems that we can just slap a decent sized video card in. The rest are mostly a waste of time when you can get a Roku or a XBOX 360 that will do 99% of what these under performing systems try to do and do it better.

      • Deanjo
      • 7 years ago

      [quote<]The rest are mostly a waste of time when you can get a Roku or a XBOX 360 that will do 99% of what these under performing systems try to do and do it better.[/quote<] Umm not likely. I have yet to see a media player that offers the flexability or features that a HTPC can offer plus an XBOX 360 draws a hell of a lot more power in use. Also if you are going trinity you better be ready to spit up the extra cash for windows as any kind of video decode acceleration in linux with an AMD GPU is just plain abysmal.

    • rufus210
    • 7 years ago

    Does anyone have any idea how the Celeron 847 compares against the Atom D2550? Asus have a very similarly spec’d EeeBoxs also with GT610 GPUs, but with an Atom instead of a Celeron.

      • Deanjo
      • 7 years ago

      IIRC all newer atoms that are paired to a nvidia GPU are limited to a 1X PCIe link.

        • willmore
        • 7 years ago

        PCI-E v1 or v2, I wonder.

        Still, for video decode, it doesn’t much matter. 250MB/s is way more BW than you’ll need. For games? Well, you’ll run out of CPU first.

          • Deanjo
          • 7 years ago

          I believe it is only a v1 link.

      • Luminair
      • 7 years ago

      this is the real comparison that should have been made in this review, because this is the competition for this device (all the “ion2” systems out there)

    • MadManOriginal
    • 7 years ago

    Intel must be providing these Celeron 847 we’re seeing in various cheap systems at some pretty low prices. The [url=http://ark.intel.com/products/series/55771<]tray price[/url<] is $134 and there are faster options that should be drop-in replacements with lower tray prices. This system with a 36% faster, tray price $86 Celeron 887 would be nice.

    • cmrcmk
    • 7 years ago

    To me, an HTPC should feel as responsive as a dedicated appliance which means an SSD or at least an SSD cache. If this system had a little more speed in the CPU and GPU + 20-40GB of SSD goodness soldered onto the board, I’d be very, very interested.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 7 years ago

      An unpopulated mSATA slot plus a 2.5″ bay would be ideal.

        • Chrispy_
        • 7 years ago

        And going back to the GPU choice, the discrete graphics are worthless. The money would be much better spent on either an AMD piledriver or something with and HD3000/4000 IGP.

        Even the old HD2000 is comparable with that nvidia chip, but doesn’t eat almost 30W of the cooling budget that Zotac can get out of that very compact heatsink.

    • flip-mode
    • 7 years ago

    Why not put the MSRP in the table on page 1?

      • NeelyCam
      • 7 years ago

      This. It took me a while to find it from the article.

        • Cyril
        • 7 years ago

        It’s literally in the paragraph right below the table.

          • NeelyCam
          • 7 years ago

          Sure. But if I wanted to know how expensive this thing is (which was the first thing I wanted to know), the paragraph somewhere in the middle under some table is not the first place I would look look. Where I would look (in this order):

          1) Table(s)
          2) Top two paragraphs
          3) Last two paragraphs (“Wow, it’s $99.99?!? Oh, never mind…”)

          After that, I would end up skimming through the whole article, looking for numbers that look like prices… there were so many numbers embedded in the text, though, that it was difficult to find.

            • Cyril
            • 7 years ago

            How about reading the article? 😉

            Failing that: CTRL+F, dollar sign.

            • NeelyCam
            • 7 years ago

            Just giving feedback.. whatever you do with it is entirely up to you

    • BiffStroganoffsky
    • 7 years ago

    So Cyril, would you have given it a Recommended seal of approval had the mobo not broken the header for the power button and activity light when you tried to re-install it in the chassis?

    • Novuake
    • 7 years ago

    BUT can it run Crysis?

      • grantmeaname
      • 7 years ago

      No.

      • NeelyCam
      • 7 years ago

      Depends on the settings

        • Ethyriel
        • 7 years ago

        And how many seconds you want to wait for a frame.

    • spiralscratch
    • 7 years ago

    Kinda disappointed that the review skimped out on performance testing, especially for the Linux install. It would have been nice to get some numbers on straight DVD & Blu-Ray rips under Windows and Linux/XBMC. This unit is marketed as a HTPC, after all.

      • Deanjo
      • 7 years ago

      I can tell you exactly what type of performance to expect with Linux/Xbmc/nvidia. You might see peaks of 5% CPU usage even while playing high bitrate 1:1 bluray rips. Nvidia’s vdpau does all the heavy decoding. In fact playback is actually less resource hungry then just displaying XBMC’s GUI.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 7 years ago

      I think ‘it works without skipping’ is good enough. Does it matter whether CPU or GPU usage is 10% or 80% in such a low power system? As long as it has the processing power for the task that’s what matters.

        • Deanjo
        • 7 years ago

        Ya it does matter, not only in power usage but also in noise emitted from the unit as high loads are going to crank up those noisy little fans.

          • MadManOriginal
          • 7 years ago

          For power draw itself, I disagree. If you care about 10W or whatever small amount it might be, turn off a light. In a sub-35W system we’re into diminishing returns territory. For the [i<]potential[/i<] side effect of power draw that is fan noise, there are other measurements needed (noise levels) not just power draw.

            • Deanjo
            • 7 years ago

            There are many other items where the extra cpu headroom comes in handy as well such as light post processing, audio decoding (if you are not using the digital outputs or transcoding on the fly to a digital stream such as 6 channel AAC to AC3), indexing while playing, network cpu overhead, etc.

    • Dposcorp
    • 7 years ago

    uno.

    How long before USB 2.0 goes away altogether?

    Why do we still have a mix of controllers? Its been a few years.

      • chuckula
      • 7 years ago

      [quote<] How long before USB 2.0 goes away altogether?[/quote<] How long until keyboards & mice go away completely? USB 2.0 (and even USB 1.1) are fine for basically any standard peripheral and they come with the bonus of using less power than USB 3.0, which is very helpful in notebooks & SFF systems.

        • Dposcorp
        • 7 years ago

        I think you are incorrect, or we would have a mix of all 3 standards currently on new devices, which we dont.

        USB 3.0 is “supposed” to be fully backwards compatible with 2.0 and 1.0, and wont FORCE more power to be used; it is just available. I dont think the port automatically uses less power; the power draw is defined by the device drawing the power, if I am not mistaken.

          • chuckula
          • 7 years ago

          First of all: What devices are out there that are only USB 3? Aside from some devices that only give you one or two ports total and provide USB 3 for those ports (and even those have USB 2 internally, but don’t break out the connectors), I can’t think of any mainstream PC system that *only* gives you USB 3.0. AMD’s chipsets still include USB 1.1 ports BTW, although they aren’t usually broken out and used.

          You are forgetting something in your argument: Power & thermal ratings for components and systems have to take into account high usage scenarios. Just because it is possible for me to not plug anything into my USB 3.0 ports doesn’t mean that the manufacturers can assume this is always the case. If they put in 4 of those ports, they have to assume that somebody is going to use all 4 simultaneously under heavy USB 3.0 load, and if the system can’t take the abuse, then they are likely going to have problems with returns and bad publicity.

            • Bensam123
            • 7 years ago

            Good thing you noted that those AMD chipsets have upwards of 10+ USB 2.0 ports on them and those 2 USB 1.1 ports are more then likely there for legacy compatibility.

            I’m pretty sure you could overload this system by full utilizing all it’s ports and maxing out it’s processor/GPU/memory, regardless of USB 3 ports. It’s good you’re using forethought in your argument though. Now if only you could think of a hypothetical situation where people may want more USB 3 ports… Like powering a hairdryer or something.

        • Bensam123
        • 7 years ago

        Do you have a second (and third) account you use to rate yourself up and others down on? You have some pretty ridiculous posts that get modded up by +2 and the account you’re disagreeing with always gets modded down by -3.

        Who cares if something is ‘good enough’. It’s not about technology we use today, it’s about technology for tomorrow. Always looking forward and moving ahead. That’s the nature of technology.

          • chuckula
          • 7 years ago

          Idiot: Name one single fact that I posted that is wrong. Oh wait you can’t. Is Dposcorp your sockpuppet account where you selectively whine about any and every Intel system that doesn’t give you 75 USB 3 ports and then openly brag that AMD embraces the future by still providing USB 1.1 ports?

            • Dposcorp
            • 7 years ago

            Hey, nimrod; let me correct you; I am a SUPER sockpuppet, so don’t try and belittle ,me.
            Respect your betters and go fix me a chicken pot pie. 🙂

            I hope your next PC purchase is filled with multiple serial ports and ISA slots.

            • chuckula
            • 7 years ago

            Machines with serial ports & ISA slots are expensive these days! I didn’t mean to drag you into this directly, but Bensam123 has a long running campaign of putting on completely fake “outrage” whenever an Intel system shows up on the market that includes less that 40 or 50 USB 3 ports (and any inclusion of a USB 2.0 port is proof of a vast evil conspiracy).

            At the same time, he claims that AMD is great and wonderful because some of their chipsets (only the ones that support Trinity) include the exact same number of USB 3 ports as the Intel chipsets that he hates so much. He also thinks that AMD loves USB 3 because they expressly don’t include any USB 3 support for any chipset that suppports Bulldozer or Piledriver chips in the AM3+ platform. You just saw some of his standard issue hypocrisy above where he simultaneously accuses Intel of being evil for having USB 2.0 ports in its hardware while claiming that AMD will single handedly save the world by having “backwards compatible” USB 1 ports… or something like that.

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