I’ve reviewed enough ZOTAC ZBOX devices in my time that I can now pretty much benchmark them in my sleep. ZOTAC certainly likes to push out these mini-PCs as often as possible, gently tweaking the hardware each time to either include a faster processor, more connectivity options, or just to improve up on the overall look. CES 2013 was an opportunity for ZOTAC to feature their latest ZBOX lineups, and this week I was lucky enough to get my hands on one of the devices shown, the ZBOX ID83 Plus.
Build quality & Design
As far as looks go, the ZBOX ID83 pretty much keeps up with ZOTAC’s design aesthetic, featuring a slim black plastic case with a familiar blue ring at the top when the unit is powered on. The front of the device features the power button, LED status indicators, memory card reader, and audio ports. At the back you’ll find an optical out port, HDMI and DVI connectors, Ethernet, Wifi, and a host of USB ports, including USB 3.0.
The ZBOX ID83 also follows in the footsteps of other models by making it extremely easy to get under the hood. Simply unscrew the two thumbscrews and you can slide off the base plate, making it easy for you to upgrade the RAM or HDD. You also get the included monitor mount if you want to attach the ID83 to the back of your display to keep it out of sight.
What makes the ZBOX ID83 special is that this is the first model I’ve seen with an Intel Core i3 processor and Intel HD 4000 Graphics, making it quite a souped up little thing. While I’ve previously had to deal with AMD architecture, the ID83 is a refreshing change and performed just as well as an entry-level desktop or Ultrabook would. The BIOS also offers power users the option to get deep into the processor to try and squeeze as much performance out of the unit as possible.
Benchmarks & Performance
When it came to performance, the ZBOX ID83 was able to handle pretty much whatever I threw at it. Whether it was scrolling through complex spreadsheets, flipping through large pdfs or even watching HD videos on full screen, the ZBOX ID83 never skipped a beat. I did spot a slight framerate issue when I connected it to my LG TV, but I think this is more down to my TV trying to be a ‘smart TV’ and less to do with the ZBOX. Another great feature of the ID83 is that you can connect two simultaneous displays, which is a bonus for anyone who requires that kind of a setup.
The onboard Intel HD 4000 Graphics allows you to play a few games at lower resolutions – I was able to fire up Guild Wars 2 and run it at the lowest setting. It certainly wasn’t the prettiest sight, but the fact that I would never be able to run this program on previous ZBOX versions is a testament to what a difference this new tweak in hardware can bring.
Heat and Noise levels
Like with most ZBOX units, the ID83 runs fairly quietly even with its internal fans whirring constantly to keep the device cool. Even when I pushed the unit to continue streaming various HD clips, there were no loud noises or excessive heat from the unit.
With the ZBOX ID83, ZOTAC have certainly upped their game in the mini-PC market. The improved Intel processor makes the ID83 a great and compact desktop replacement for most office or home tasks, and even the odd videogame or basic Photoshop. If you’ve got one of the older ZBOX units or are looking for a slightly faster media-based PC, then this is the unit to grab.