The small form factor market has seen a ton of innovation as of late, and while it’s quite nice to have so many tiny PC options that offer generally impressive performance in a package that you can stick just about anywhere (often with price tags that make these machines affordable enough as your second PC), system builders need to work harder than ever to differentiate their products.
Zotac has decided to take a stab at a radical chassis design with its Zbox OI520 Plus “Sphere”, and indeed, the black orb will make you do a double-take when you see it.
It’s small. It’s spherical. It’s certainly different. And it has an icy blue LED light band around its entire circumference. What manner of devilry is this?
|Zotac Zbox OI520 Plus
Intel Core i5-4200U (dual core, 1.6GHz, Turbo up to 2.6GHz)
HD Graphics 4400
4GB (2x2GB) DDR3L-1600MHz
802.11ac WiFi + Bluetooth 4.0
500GB 5400rpm 2.5-inch HDD
4-in-1 card reader (MMC/SD/SDHC/SDXC)
4 x USB 3.0
3 x USB 2.0
$532.81 (at Amazon.com)
We’ll get into the chassis design on the next page, but first up let’s look at what’s under that (round) hood. The system runs on a dual-core Intel Core i5-4200U (1.6GHz, Turbo 2.6GHz) with respectable Intel HD 4400 series graphics.
There’s 4GB (2 x 2GB) of DDR3L-1600MHz RAM, a 2.5-inch 500GB (5400rpm) HDD, and a 4-in-1 card reader that supports MMC, SD, SDHC, and SDXC cards. Further, there’s an mSATA slot (6Gbps) that you can use to upgrade or augment your storage.
There is also an 802.11ac WiFi + Bluetooth 4.0 module on board (which comes in handy if you’re looking to cut down on cable clutter), and there’s a LAN port, too. Other ports include four USB 3.0; four USB 2.0 (two in the rear and one on the side); HDMI and DisplayPort; dedicated mic and headphone jacks; and a lock port. The back of the machine is also home to the power button and DC-in jack.
The Zbox OI520 Plus is cooled with a single “Smartfan”, and there are no expansion slots nor an optical drive. It’s also important to note that although this model comes with memory and storage installed (the non-Plus version of the Zbox OI520 does not), you’ll have to install Windows on your own. That’s not too much of a hassle, but it does add to the cost of the unit if you don’t have any licenses on hand.