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
3DMark Time Spy
We start off with 3DMark's latest benchmark suite, Time Spy. It offers both isolated graphics and processor scores, and here we see that the Zotac Magnus is about 5% behind in terms of graphics performance, and about 75% as fast in terms of CPU performance. Its Intel Kaby Lake-based Core i7-7700HQ is, for all intents and purposes, a low-voltage version of the Core i7-7700K we used in our reference desktop, and it typically runs at a boost speed of 3.2-3.4GHz under load, versus the 4.5GHz our 7700K hits while gaming. A quick calculation is all it takes to show you that the 7700HQ is performing right in line with what we'd expect given its clockspeed deficit.
While we don't use it for CPU benchmarking purposes, we did run Prime95 on the Magnus, and found that the system aggressively throttled at 88 °C, which seems to be a setpoint dicated by Zotac's firmware to avoid CPU damage. The CPU then throttled down to 2.8GHz, which we assume will be the lowest speed you'd find in any application.
While most review sites don't bother to test Battlefield games in multi-player mode, with the excuse that it's "just too hard," we always go the extra step and provide these numbers given that they are such amazing measures of overall system performance. Yes, it can be done, and yes, it's worth it! This game is heavily reliant on CPU performance, so while the GTX 1080 in our Zotac Magnus sample was running at around 1759MHz during this test, versus 1797MHz for our desktop GTX 1080, the performance deficit was far greater than can be explained by these numbers alone. Clearly, the lower-powered CPU is having an effect, and to a certain degree is bottlenecking the GTX 1080.
Rise of the Tomb Raider
Finally, we look at Rise of the Tomb Raider, a game with an impressive graphics engine that really pushes modern systems (note that the frames per second are about half that of Battlefield 4's!). In this game, the Zotac Magnus is about 90% as fast as the reference desktop system, which is slightly surprising given that this really isn't a CPU-intensive test. To see if we could sort out what was going on, we overclocked both GTX 1080s to similar levels in this game, adding 175MHz to the core and 400MHz to the memory (800MHz effective). Note that because the Zotac GTX 1080 Mini comes with Zotac's typical 1-bin overclock, its official baseclock is 1620MHz, which is a tad higher than our reference GTX 1080's 1607MHz. Even so, when both were overclocked by 175MHz, the Zotac only hit 1974MHz while gaming, whereas the reference desktop hit 1987MHz. More concerning was that even at 1974MHz, the Zotac Magnus was still behind our stock GTX 1080 reference system, which boosts to around 1800MHz.
While we considered the possibility that a different system component, like the laptop-style 2400MHz RAM, was holding back the scores here, the GTX 1080 in the Magnus actually scaled just as well when overclocked as our reference desktop, meaning it wasn't actually being held back. We've let Zotac know about our findings, so perhaps they'll get to the bottom of this eventually. But let's not get too caught up in the details - the performance of the tiny Zotac Magnus is still really, really good! One thing overclockers will want to take note of: the CPU in this system cannot be overclocked, and while the GPU clearly can be, Zotac for whatever reason doesn't include its own Firestorm overclocking tool in its Magnus software suite.
Yes, this system has its limitations, but they are all reasonable, and more importantly are far outweighed by the novelty of having so much power in such a small box. No, you simply can't do this yourself, and even if you could, it wouldn't be anywhere near this price, making the Magnus EK71080 an incredible design win as well as an incredible value.
The Zotac Magnus EK71080 was launched in limited quantities in early February 2018, and will soon be available again at the $1499.99 retail price. It will certainly be making an appearance in our Desktop Buyer's Guide for Spring 2018!