Looking to add a Media Center in your home?
The Zotac ZBOX ID-80 Plus is based on the Intel NM10 Express chipset and powered by the Dual Core 2.13Ghz Atom CPU and 2GB RAM. Thankfully, Zotac equips the ID-80 with a dedicated NVIDIA GeForce GT 520M GPU with a frame buffer of 512MB. This helps the Z-Box output to the latest HDMI 1.4a standard. On the connectivity side, you’re provided with support for Gigabit LAN, 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 3.0.
The Plus models of Z-Box come equipped with RAM and storage and in the case of ID-80, you get 2GB DDR3-1066 as well as 320GB 2.5″ hard drive. If you prefer, you can get the barebones version instead which is something I would highly recommend as it would be cheaper and allow you to equip the PC with an SSD which will make it run a lot faster.
One of the nicer additions to the ZBox is the inclusion of an iR receiver and remote control. I had always found it a bit strange that Zotac targeted the HTPC sector but didn’t including a remote with the ZBox. With the ID-80, you get a receiver with a fairly long USB cable that alows plenty of flexibility on it’s positioning, which comes handy if the unit is hidden behind a display. The included remote is compact in size and supports Windows Media Center keys along with color coded keys that other apps take advantage of. The buttons aren’t exactly the most comfortable or easy to press but it’s a free remote at the end of the day and not one targeted towards an enthusiast who will definitely use their own universal remote.
We did some benchmarks on the ID-80 to show you how it performs. I think the most important benchmark for a machine like this is to see how it does in playing 1080p movies and possibly WinRAR if you also use it to download and auto-unarchive files. Some people might want to connect their video camera but we highly recommend against that as that brings the best of machines to their knees.
As you can see from the benchmarks above. the Zotac did farily well, compared to other machines in its class. While hi-def movie playback was fine, the ZBOX ID-80 is still pretty slow to be used as an everyday PC and I wouldn’t recommend it for regular office use. The Atom CPU shows its weakness, especially when trying to juggle between two or three applications
Other than good quality playback, your HTPC should also try to be as silent and cool as possible and the ID-80 scores well here. Even during benchmarks like 3DMark, we could not hear the system at all and while the ZBox ID-80 got a bit warm at times, it was never uncomfortable to touch.
Priced close to AED 1000, the Zotac ZBOX ID-80 is a nice little HTPC that would make a good client for XBMC or Plex. If that is that you’re looking for then go for it by all means- although I would recommend the barebones version and add an SSD.