Zotac Mek1 Desktop Review: Killer 1440p Gaming

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Gaming Benchmarks

We weren’t able to record performance metrics for the MSI G25 Vortex 8RD in our gaming benchmarks at 1440p, due to its mobile MXM graphics card. (It didn’t allow 1440p at fullscreen.) So we excluded the data from our charts but kept the Vortex in the mix at 1080p and 4K.

Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation

Our gaming benchmarks appear to (if not just temporarily) redeem the Mek1’s unremarkable productivity performance, with the Zotac offering starting off strong in the Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation tests. At the highest possible settings, the Mek1 takes a seat at the table in second place behind our GTX 1080-equipped test rig. The GTX 1070 Ti will place the Mek1 in this position frequently, but it’s important to note that the performance gap is far more substantial at 1080p, where the CPU plays more of a role in frame rate.

Bioshock Infinite

The Mek1’s weaker CPU (versus the rest of the comparison set here) drops the Mek1 to a third-place position against our test rig’s GTX 1080 and 1070 in the Bioshock Infinite benchmarks at 1080p, despite having a better GPU (and higher minimum frame rates) than the latter configuration. However, putting more pressure on the graphics card by turning up the resolution places the Mek1 ahead of the GTX 1070-equipped reference machine in average frame rate, albeit by less than only 1 FPS at 1440p and 4K.

DiRT Rally

DiRT Rally responds better to GPU horsepower than CPU performance, and the Mek1 lands back in its second-place position at the highest settings on all tested resolutions. It averages over 60 FPS at 1440p, and it even gets playable frame rates at 4K (about 35 FPS average) with all the eye candy turned up. Gaming at 4K may be a stretch for the hardware if you’re looking for that ideal target of 60 FPS, but the Mek1 is starting to look like a surefire win at 1440p.

Grand Theft Auto V

GTA V is one of the most demanding games in our suite when it has the details and AA turned all the way up, and it favors a blend of GPU and CPU horsepower. The Mek1’s weaker CPU slates it below the GTX 1070-equipped test rig with a stronger K-series processor at 1080p, and neither system can average the 60 FPS sweet spot at 1080p. However, when the bottleneck shifts to the GPU at 1440p and 4K, the GTX 1070 Ti in the Mek1 takes a slight lead over the lesser graphics card. If you want to play at 4K with a comfortable frame rate, expect to sacrifice on effects to a big degree.


The Mek1 performs similarly in Hitman, falling behind the GTX 1070-equipped reference rig at 1080p but pushing ahead of it at higher resolutions. The CPU is surely the deciding factor at 1080p, but the Zotac desktop continues to shine at higher resolutions, and you get quite-playable average frame rates (above 45 FPS) at even 4K with all the effects at maximum.

Rise of the Tomb Raider

Rise of the Tomb Raider is another hard-hitting game at maximum settings, and the Mek1 is able to (barely) provide a 60 FPS average frame rate at 1080p with eye candy turned up all the way. It can even hold a playable 35 FPS at 1440p, but kicking the resolution up to 4K will require lower detail settings to get playable frame rates. Similar to DiRT Rally, ROTR doesn’t hinge as much on CPU performance, and the GPU hierarchy dictated how the systems in the field performed.

The Division

The Division exhibits the same disregard for CPU performance at 1080p as Rise of the Tomb Raider, with the Mek1 taking its familiar spot (trailing the GTX 1080, besting the GTX 1070) and providing well over 60 FPS at 1080p. The Tom Clancy shooter is much less demanding than Lara’s shoot-n-search story, and the frame rates are decidedly playable at 1440p and 4K. The Mek1 is able to net close to a 60 FPS average (56.9 FPS, to be exact) at 1440p and maintain an average above 30 FPS at 4K.

Middle Earth: Shadows of War

We saw high average frame rates in Middle Earth: Shadows of War, with the Mek1 outperforming a GTX 1070-equipped Z270 test rig with a better CPU at all tested resolutions and the maximum detail and effect settings. Although the game isn’t as demanding as some others in our suite, the weaker processor still seems to hold it back from touching the GTX 1080. However, the game is quite playable at these settings, averaging an enjoyable 56 FPS at 1440p and managing a playable 32 FPS at 4K.

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Derek Forrest
Derek Forrest is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He writes hardware news and reviews gaming desktops and laptops.
  • bigdragon
    This is an impressively compact system given its performance. It's always nice to see attempts to minimize the footprint of a desktop system without compromising on performance.
  • MCMunroe
    I am a fan of the console sized PCs with full sized GPUs. I own a traditional tower (Deepcool Genome 2), a Alienware Alpha, and a Node 202 (about the same size as here). I really don't feel like I am missing anything in the Node, where as the Alpha is as upgradable as a laptop. Too me it's a new sweet spot.
  • velocityg4
    Given the specs. There is no surprise about performance. A decibel reading under load would have been a useful addition for some people. If there was mention. I didn't notice it.
  • raymes0428
    Can the stand be removed and it placed on its side? Looking for an Alienware M1 replacement.
  • DerekA_C
    at that price they could have thrown in a 500w full modular psu
  • Lutfij
    The chassis reminds me of Silverstone RVZ/Milo series of SFF chassis's.