Review: Zotac's Zbox EN1070K is the tiny game PC that could


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/04/17/review-zotacs-zbox-en1070k.html


#2

I’ve been stuck in research hell configuring a DIY SFF gaming PC. My 8 year old iMac is pretty much end of life as a side gaming desktop, and since Apple has seen fit to discard the idea of an upgradeable desktop for the foreseeable future I’ve chosen to get a small PC just for gaming to tide me over (my iMac still functions fine for the design/dev work and as a daily use home computer and multimedia machine).

I actually love the cases available in the ITX space, some of these companies are doing great work here (Bitfenix, Cougar, Phantex, Silverstone, and NZXT in particular).

What games are you playing on this prebuilt @beschizza ?


#3

Shouldn’t you say how much things cost when you do a review of them? (The version with the 1070 is $1114.56 if you buy it without HD or RAM)


#4

Right now the problem is that alt-coin mining is killing the GPU market at least with respect to enthusiasts. It’s frustrating seeing midrange cards go for formerly high performance prices (entry level of that market to be specific). It’s best to stick with whatever PC you have because the prices are out of whack for now. Heck, even RAM has gotten fairly high it seems and I need to look into an upgrade in that area myself (I just piecemeal my PCs).


#5

The only annoyance, for me, is the case design. You’d think it’d be the sleekest most minimalist thing going, but it looks like an off-brand cable modem, right down to the plastic fins and haphazard port placements.

There’s no accounting for taste, but nothing haphazard going on there. The “fins” are ventilation to keep the thing from overheating, the case isn’t made entirely out of aluminum, so it can’t use the chassis to help dissipate heat. It’s very generic and unassuming looking, which is precisely what I would want out of it. A pointlessly shiny thing isn’t any better to me than a big box of obnoxious blue blinkenlights.

Edit: Just looked at the price. Damn Rob, you’re placing form quite significantly above function there…


#6

This seems way more expensive than it’s worth… especially with such an unattractive package and not being able to keep up the GPU.


#7

I would love to do that…methinks you did not fully read my post. :slight_smile:

My 8 year old iMac is pretty much end of life as a side gaming desktop, and since Apple has seen fit to discard the idea of an upgradeable desktop for the foreseeable future I’ve chosen to get a small PC just for gaming to tide me over

I’d love to keep playing Hots and WoW on it…but Blizzard is either no longer supporting it (WoW) or it is getting to the point that even low settings are rough to play (SC2, Hots).

While the prices are high…it’s still cheaper than buying a new iMac which will leave me in the same boat in 5 or so years (no expandability or upgradeability).


#8

Too true. The hardest part about my last PC build was picking a case. Lots of cases with good interior space, cable management and lots of front ports…but so many of them looked like they were doodled by a nine year old fresh off a Transformers movie marathon.


#9

That seems high. You can buy gaming laptops with faster processors, memory, and disk for around that price pretty easily, although most in that bracket only come with the GTX1060.

Once you add in the memory and disk though you’re looking at more like $1300-$1500 at which point your gaming laptop options are wide open.

It seems that Rob was really enamored with the form factor of this box and was willing to pay the premium.


#10

Gaming laptops are kind of shit. Not really powerful enough to be dedicated gaming machines and too heavy to actually be laptops.


#11

I’m at war with blue LEDs. They hurt my eyes at almost any brightness, and manufacturers seem to think that not only does everything need blue LEDs, they need blue LEDs that are so bright that it completely defeats the purpose of turning out the lights.

I’ve actually gotten to the point where I’m more or less at war with the things. For the last several years, whenever possible, I replace the blue LEDs with some other color, usually following a green/amber/red scheme for alerts.

If I can’t replace the LEDs, I diffuse them or cover them up. A normal blue LED is somehow just as effective with the plastic lens covered entirely save for about a square millimeter. That way it becomes visibly lit without actually projecting meaningful amounts of light into the room.


#12

Exactly why I ended up with this. I just had enough with all the r e s e a r c h

What games are you playing on this prebuilt @beschizza ?

Minecraft, obviously. Bit of Infocom Adventure Collection too.


#13

I usually do and neglected to here . I’ve just added the following:

“It’s about $1130, and you’ll have to bring your own RAM and storage. The bundled options on Amazon are a poor deal: get it barebones.”


#14

As I said, about $250 above. I just priced equivalent parts with generic, but not dirt-cheap parts and it came out at $948.33. You could squeeze this down to $900 or so, but with GPU prices the way they are, it’s rough going for game-ready desktop builds.

Once you’ve put in a nice m.2 storage stick and a full rack of RAM, it’s the difference between $1400 and $1650. We’re so far into dork hobby country another couple of benjamins are hardly going to make a difference.


#15

I’m actually thinking of selling this because I have a baby, and baby is more fun and demonstrates a superior command of narrative coherence than Far Cry 5.


#16

Essentially you are paying a premium for A) the small form factor and B) It being built and ready to go out of the box for you.

I’ve been using PC Parts Picker to generate a bunch of builds and research what folks have done.

Generally mATX builds with either core i5 or Ryzen 5 chips, 16 gb RAM (2x8), and a GTX 1060 (the 3 and 6gb versions are the best bang for the buck performers) will run about $1500. Similar ITX builds are running slightly less at $1350.

I can get builds down to $800-900 but that means skimping on memory and dropping it to 2x4/8gb and going for a 5400 rpm hdd instead of an ssd. Additionally this also means going fan only cooling, which is not best case scenario for small form factor boxes and a hefty GPU. Liquid cooling is not cheap, but it is worth it to ensure long lasting hardware.

I’m actually thinking of selling this because I have a baby, and baby is more fun, less time consuming, and demonstrates a superior command of narrative coherence than Far Cry 5.

Speaking as a dad of 3…don’t. You will want this around for some well needed “Dad time” every so often.


#17

#18

Dammit Rob, do we look like we’re made out of money?? *sobs quietly*


#19

You’re not the only one. While an LED merely being blue isn’t a problem for me, it’s when they crank the brightness up to 11 that I get pissed. I don’t need power indicators that are bright enough to fry my retinas.


#20

To be fair, I think our bases of comparison are so different that it’s probably not worth comparing at all. I am very much the sort of person to think things like “form should follow function” and “function is aesthetics” so I’ve got no problem erecting a big silent black monolith of a computer somewhere.

I recently built a “new” computer that cost me around $250 in parts. It’s a dual HT hex-core Xeon workstation with 48GB of RAM with my old GTX780 in it. I salvaged the Intel chassis and power supply, and I had that quantity of compatible RDIMMs lying around, so it was really just a matter of getting CPUs and a USB3 controller and a few other goodies. I’ve got a paltry 6Gb/s SATA SSD in it at the moment, but that’s only until I manage to score another good deal on RAM to get it up to 96GB, at which point I’m switching to a RAID5 of platter drives and I’ll just copy/symlink games entirely into RAM if I want to play games. I can already do that now with the amount of RAM that I have, but quite a few more games will fit within 90GB of RAM. Six left over for system + applications is fine, since my resting RAM usage is only about 380-400MB.