Zotac have been through many evolutions of their Zbox, starting with the original model around 5 years ago and bringing things into a new, orb style chassis more recently. Today we take a look at a Zbox which has familiar styling but brings the internals into the latest generation by using the new GeForce GTX860M.
Packaging and Bundle
The EN760 arrives in a reasonably large box for a Zbox, around the size of an enthusiast graphics card really. Familiar Zotac branding is prominent, as is an image of the system and we get some information on the key features too. Inside there are two stands, one desktop which holds the system vertical (as on the box) one to mount on the back of our screen if we wish and then of course we can sit the chassis on the desk in horizontal layout. Also present are our Wi-Fi antenna (2.4-5GHz) PSU (Delta 120w), software disc, documentation and various screws for upgrades.
The Zbox EN760
Zotac use their “traditional” style Zbox chassis on the EN760 and go with an all-black colour scheme on this occasion. The top surface has a glossy finish with Zotac logo and glowing orange LED circle. Our base is also glossy with a large perforated area for airflow and four rubber feet mean it will sit still on our desk. The front surface of this Zbox has various items on it which start with 2×3.5mm audio, a card reader, USB 3.0, status LEDs, IR receiver and power button. Two sides of the chassis are perforated, one featuring a USB port and the other a slot for the desktop stand and our other connectivity is on the back. Round there we find the power input, 2x WiFi antenna connectors, HDMI, DVI, 2x USB 3.0, dual GB LAN and optical audio port.
Removing two screws on the side of the unit allows us to slide off the base and this reveals the internal components. Items of note in the Plus model, other than the CPU/GPU are the Intel 3160 Wireless-AC card and Samsung Momentus 1TB hard drive, a single stick of DDR3-1600 (Crucial) and of course our cooler. An MSATA slot is also present for adding in an SSD.
For the “major” components we have an Intel Core i5-4200U CPU which is a dual core model with hyper threading. It runs at 1.6GHz as standard with 2.6GHz as a turbo speed and while the CPU does have integrated graphics (HD 4400) the system uses a discrete part. The EN760 features an NVIDIA GTX 860M GPU which is based on the 28nm Maxwell GPU (GM107). We get 2GB of Samsung GDDR5 connected to a 128bit bus and the core config is split 16 ROPs, 40TMUs and 640 cores. Zotac then clock the GPU at 1020MHz (1085MHz boost) with the memory at 1253MHz. also worthy of note is that this is a DX11 GPU which also supports 3D, 4K and NVIDIA technologies such as PhysX.
In terms of Software Zotac don’t provide an OS with the likes of the EN760 or the Plus edition which we are reviewing here. We don’t get any significant applications either but we do get a reasonably feature complete BIOS. No CPU overclocking is present but we can tweak our memory, save profiles and BIOS updates are able to be completed from USB drives.
User Experience and Conclusion
For those looking for a compact system to use in the home/office there is a lot to like about the design of the Zbox EN760 range. The all black styling is much more discrete than the older black/silver variant and the fact we can turn the orange LED off if desired helps it blend in. For port layouts there is little to complain about here. We have a decent layout front and back with plenty of USB 3.0 ports for faster devices.
Component choice is also decent although pre-built compact systems like this are always cause for debate. For example having 8GB as standard is great, having it on one stick has pro’s and con’s. For example we can easily add a 2nd stick at some point for 16GB. But until then the memory bandwidth is half what 2x4GB sticks would be. The same goes for the drive used… great that we have plenty of storage on the 1TB mechanical drive but this system really benefits from a SSD so it would be good for that to be a base option. Wi-FI choice was also good, Intel-ac always works well and of course all of the above is easy to change by just removing a few screws.
So in terms of value it depends what you want from a system. We can go barebones with the EN760 for £435 (which includes the CPU/GPU) or we can go with the spec as reviewed for £565. Both are reasonably priced and the warranty is decent, we just need to keep in mind the Operating System cost and that a drive upgrade will be beneficial.
The reason for the enhanced drive, which ideally would be mSATA for ease of install, is that it offers a more responsive experience in Windows/Productivity as well as benefiting load times in games and applications. Of the CPU/GPU configuration in the EN760 the CPU is the “weaker” part. It does enough to allow for a good gaming and multimedia basis but in more demanding tasks such as image work and video processing there are noticeable differences between it and some of the more expensive i5’s. That said the benefit of the CPU used here is some great power figures which allow the system to idle at 20watts. Load power never rose above 106w during our testing and other than when we stressed all of the system components at the same time it ran near silent. With 100% load across the system the system was by no means loud or intrusive but it was noticeable in a quieter room.
In terms of a comparison with a desktop system, we get lower power use here (usually lower noise) smaller footprint and comparable SATA/Wi-Fi/USB performance but less flexibility on CPU performance/scalability and although it doesn’t matter so much in this case, higher temps on the Zbox.
So that brings us to the key aspect of the EN760 series, its GPU. Overall the choice of the GTX860M is a good one. It gives us a compact system which is one of the first, if not the first, which feels like a proper gaming system. Games like League of Legends and F1 2013 run flawlessly on maximum detail and then we can move to the more demanding AAA FPS games like Battlefield 4 and with a tweak in detail to high, get some perfectly playable framerates at 1920×1080.
Compact, quiet, plenty of connectivity and some reasonable CPU performance. The highlight of the system is its ability to offer 1920×1080 gaming in popular, modern titles.
Price: RRP £434.99 (Barebones) – £564.99 (As Reviewed)