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Breakin' in
Getting into the Zbox to install memory and storage is an almost tool-free process. After removing a pair of thumb screws and sliding the base plate toward the front of the Zbox, we have full access to the memory slots and storage ports.

The EN970 has a pair of SATA 6Gbps ports and an M.2 slot for storage. The 2.5" drives get dedicated trays that are held in place with a single thumb screw each. The trays have tabs that line up with the standard screw hole placements, and storage devices just pop right into them. The M.2 slot requires a small, not-finger-friendly screw to hold down the drive, though. A variety of M.2 2280 SSDs are supported by this slot, and AHCI or NVMe drives get two lanes of PCIe 3.0 connectivity.

The stacked SO-DIMM slots support low-voltage DDR3L at speeds of up to 1600 MT/s. This low-power RAM runs at only 1.35 volts, so those buying the barebones Zbox need to be sure to pick up the right memory. To outfit our Zbox, Kingston supplied a pair of 8GB DDR3L-1600 SO-DIMMs and an SSDNow 240GB M.2 drive. Our thanks to Kingston for providing us with this hardware.

All that separates us from the Zbox's naughty bits are some screws and a warranty-controlling seal. Five screws hold the motherboard in place, and one of them is under that seal. I also had to remove the six smaller screws that mount the backplate to the enclosure to break the motherboard free from its bonds. After that, the whole system slips right out.

The Zbox stays cool with a pair of blowers mounted to a copper-and-aluminum cooler. One blows through the rear of the system, while the other breathes through the left side. We'll examine the Zbox's thermal performance and noise levels in more detail in a bit.

Once the cooler is out of the way, we can see something interesting: the GeForce GTX 960 in the EN970 resides on an MXM card. Huang tells us that using MXM graphics cards is more for Zotac's benefit than the end-user's, though. Swapping out the MXM module would allow Zotac to sell a Radeon-based version of the Magnus, and the expansion card also makes its easy for Zotac to build a Zbox using whatever graphics chips Nvidia and AMD have in the pipeline.

Now that we've taken the Zbox EN970 all the way apart, let's put 'er back together and see how this system performs.