Now that low voltage parts from Intel and AMD feature much more powerful graphics, very few vendors choose to use a discrete GPU on their mini PCs and notebooks based around Atoms and AMD APUs, but there is a catch. UHD or 4K is coming and although few people actually need it at the moment it is nice marketing tool. A somewhat more powerful GPU should make cheap systems a bit more future proof and since people donâ€™t tend to upgrade their media PCs that often, it makes sense.
Zotacâ€™s new ZBOX ID45 resurrects the ION concept, but with a much more powerful CPU in tow. It is based on an Ivy Bridge Core i3-3227U clocked at 1.9GHz and it features an Nvidia GT 640 GPU with 2GB of DDR3. The GPU is 4K capable and users can choose between HDMI, DVI-I and VGA outputs (of course you canâ€™t get UHD on the latter).
â€śZOTAC has always married the capabilities of energy-efficient Intel processors with incredible NVIDIA GeForce graphics since the first ZBOX shipped with NVIDIA ION,â€ť said Carsten Berger, senior director, ZOTAC International. â€śThe latest ZBOX ID45 series pushes that synergy even further with greater performance while maintaining excellent energy-efficiency.â€ť
The rest of the package is more or less standard. Ivy based ZBOX systems have been around for a while, but this one features 802.11ac wireless, which should come in handy for high-resolution streaming. It also has gigabit Ethernet, just in case. The design hasnâ€™t been changed and it might be time for Zotac to tweak it a bit. The ZBOX has been around for four years and it could do with a new paint job or an even bigger makeover.
There is still no word on the price and as always the new ZBOX will be available as a barebones unit or a complete system with the Plus moniker, in which case youâ€™ll get 4GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive.