ProsIncredibly small; very reasonable price; allows user to choose their own RAM and storage
ConsSmall size limits performance of powerful components; a little loud at idle
Here at The Tech Buyer's Guru, we publish the most widely-read series of small form factor PC guides on the Web, so we're no stranger to mini systems. In fact, we're not even strangers to Zotac's Zbox line, the newest member of which is the subject of today's review. Almost three years ago to the day, we checked out one of Zotac's most cutting-edge models at the time, the budget-pridced Zotac ZBOX BI320, and came away incredibly impressed. Thankfully, we were able to connect with Zotac at CES 2018 this year, and given TBG's established track record of covering this market, they were kind enough to provide a media sample of their newest Zbox model, the high-end Magnus EK71080, for review.
Description, Features & Assembly
Rather than show you a couple of photos and rattle off some specs, we've put together a mini-review on YouTube that will let you see this system from every angle, so you really get to know what it's all about.
The one thing we'll add that isn't mentioned in the video is the actual volume: the Zotac Magnus is 8.86" x 7.99" x 5.04", which works out to just under 6 liters. That's impossibly small for a system of this caliber, and literally half the size of our reference mini-ITX system shown off briefly in the above video, which uses the SilverStone SG13 case!
By the way, as noted in our video, we completed this barebones system with the following components:
- Samsung 960 Evo 500GB PCIe solid-state drive
- Seagate 1TB Solid-State Hybrid Hard Drive
- Crucial 2x4GB DDR4-2400 SODIMM RAM
- Windows 10 Home
The total cost of this system as built would be just under $2,000, with $1,500 of that being the Magnus itself.
Temperatures, Power, and Noise
So we have to get this out of the way: while the GPU in the Magnus runs reasonably cool, the CPU heats up quite a bit. We're used to seeing mobile CPUs get up above 70 °C when used in compact laptops, but we were hoping the Core i7-7700HQ would have more breathing room in this system. It didn't really turn out that way. Now, to put these numbers into perspective, our reference desktop is a full-size ATX system using the SilverStone PM02 case and Noctua NH-D15 cooler, which is the highest-performing air cooler on the market. We didn't expect the Magnus to come close to matching it, but we are a bit concerned that the Magnus is throttling the Core i7-7700HQ more than the space-constrained gaming laptops it's designed for.
On a more positive note, at idle, the system measured 32dB, just above the 31dB for our reference ATX desktop, and at load it hit 38dB, which is actually slightly quieter than our full-size system. From these figures we can conclude that Zotac has optimized for GPU performance and load noise levels, perhaps at the expense of CPU performance. Also interesting was that at idle is uses just over 30W, and at full load it pulls just over 250W. It's quite efficient, no doubt about it! The only concern we have about the idle noise is that a small system like this is more likely to be placed close to the user, or in a home theater environment, where a 32dB idle noise level will be noticeable. The 80mm side-mounted case fan is the likely culprit, and we think Zotac should consider punching out more mesh vents into both sides of the case. They have left the entire top of the case fully-meshed, which is great for GPU temperatures, but it's not doing much for the CPU, which even at idle is running pretty hot, forcing the case fan to go into overdrive.
All right, now that you've learned what makes this system tick, let's get into the gaming benchmarks!