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Zotac Zbox Magnus EN1060K-U Barebones Mini PC Review

Price Analysis & Conclusion

The Zotac Zbox Magnus EN1060K-U is meant for the living room with its trim chassis design, and it’s priced right at $900. It offers excellent 1080p gaming and VR-ready performance for considerably less money than other barebones solutions (see the Gigabyte Brix Gaming VR, priced at $1,150). Although you have to purchase your own storage, memory and operating system, the reasonable price of entry can afford you better components (in both speed and capacity) without pushing the total cost too high.

The Zbox isn’t much to look at if tucked away in a niche, but that can make sense for a PC designed for the living room. (Our DVD players don’t light up like a Christmas tree; why should any other device in our entertainment center?)

There’s enough USB connectivity to attach an HTC Vive or an Oculus Rift, but you’ll have to do so from the rear panel due to the lack of an HDMI port on the front panel. This is by no means a deal breaker, but the feature has been making its way to many other SFF gaming PCs bound for the living room, and it seems like it’s the only thing missing from Zotac’s VR-ready GTX 1060-equipped Zbox.

Installing the components took all of three minutes, and we’re impressed with Zotac’s simplistic interior design. Even novices can easily figure out how to get it up and running with tool-less access that makes similar barebones products seem like a nightmare to configure. The USB thumb drive loaded with all the drivers is another small thing that goes a long way for first-time DIY consumers. It would be a tough order to find another SFF gaming PC with as small a footprint and simplistic a setup process as the Zotac Zbox Magnus EN1060K-U, and it’s one of the best designs we’ve come across in this segment.

The Zbox Magnus EN1060K-U does have a few drawbacks. The Intel Core i5-7500T processor inside is not the fastest Core i5 on the market, with a base clock of 2.7GHz and a max turbo frequency of 3.3GHz in lightly threaded applications. As such, it falls behind in CPU-intensive workloads against higher-clocked Core i5s (the Vortex and our test bench) and mobile Core i7 (the BRIX) systems. However, it doesn’t severely affect most game tests.

The gaming performance of the EN1060K is on par with the other GTX 1060-equipped systems in our charts, exhibiting exceptional thermal dissipation despite the appearance of having little to cool the components. We observed temperatures of 69C with prolonged usage, which is right behind the Vortex and its impressive cooling system (observed at 61C). The EN1060K-U handily outperforms Gigabyte’s GTX 1060 barebones offering because of its stable thermals, with the BRIX topping out at 85C (and throttling). This is apparent in our game results, where the ZBox upends the BRIX in almost every test.

We may be nit-picking with this factor, but M.2 connectivity is limited in comparison to other barebones PCs we’ve encountered. A single slot appeals to standard users, but it wouldn’t have been difficult to fit another M.2 interface for more advanced consumers. (The PCB certainly appears to have some space for it.) The Zbox has some appeal to enthusiasts (we can’t build it that small and have to install our own components), and more storage connectivity would be a sweet incentive for those on the fence.

The Zotac Zbox Magnus EN1060K-U offers the best bang for your buck that we’ve seen in the SFF barebones PC segment by a landslide, coming in at $900 ($250 less than Gigabyte’s offering with the same GPU). Enthusiasts can always make the argument that you can build something more powerful for less money, but you definitely won’t be able to make it this small. Those same enthusiasts also likely have a powerhouse full tower PC sitting at their desk. Having an exceptionally priced SFF living-room gaming PC with enough power under the hood for excellent 1080p and entry-level VR gaming can give them the satisfaction of doing it themselves. Plus, you'll get better-than-console performance at a smaller cost and size than the competition.

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  • atomicmonitor
    Very nice review. This is a very attractive SFF pc for living rooms and I can definitely see myself recommending it to users not prepared to build a "power house desktop pc"
    Reply
  • Pailin
    wonder how noisy this thing is?
    Reply
  • Tarc Novar
    That USB-C port would be better served by having Thunderbolt 3 available.
    Reply