There ain’t no party like an Intel Skylake party, 'cause an Intel Skylake party don’t stop (as it were). That at least seems to be the case for Zotac, which announced an update to its ZBox line of computers, finally integrating the latest Intel chipsets into its living room-oriented mini PCs.
|ZBox M551||ZBox M551-PLUS|
|Processor||Intel Core i5-6400T||Intel Core i5-6400T|
|Graphics||Intel HD Graphics 530||Intel HD Graphics 530|
|Memory||None (2 x DDR3L SO-DIMMs)||4 GB (1 x 4GB) DDR3L-1600|
|Storage||None (1 x 2.5-inch HDD/SSD Slot, 1x M.2 SATA SSD Slot)||120 GB M.2 SATA SSD|
|Internet Connectivity||802.11ac WiFi, Dual Gigabit LAN||802.11ac WiFi, Dual Gigabit LAN|
|Ports||2 x DisplayPort 1.21 HDMI 1.41 x USB 3.1 combo 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C 2 x USB 3.0Mic in/ audio out jack||2 x DisplayPort 1.21 HDMI 1.41 x USB 3.1 combo 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C 2 x USB 3.0Mic in/ audio out jack|
Zotac’s ZBox MI551 mini PCs have been refreshed to include an Intel Core i5-6400T (Skylake) quad-core processor clocked at 2.2 GHz, with a Turbo boost up to 2.8 GHz. The onboard Intel HD Graphics 530 provides enough horsepower to drive up to 4K (4096 x 2160) resolutions via an HDMI 1.4 port (4K @ 24 Hz) or two DisplayPort 1.2 (4K @ 60 Hz) interfaces. Dropping down to lower resolutions could even provide a decent light gaming experience, and the ZBox is capable of supporting up to three displays.
Inside the ZBox, two SO-DIMM slots support up to 16 GB of DDR3L-1600. Storage options include a single M.2 SATA SSD slot and one 2.5-inch SATA 6 Gb/s HDD/SSD slot. An internal 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 wireless card provides speedy Internet connectivity and a deeper pool of peripheral options, respectively. Additional connectivity includes a USB 3.1 combo port that supports SD, SDHC and SDXC memory cards; a USB 3.1 Type-C port; two USB 3.0 ports; and two RJ45 ports supporting dual gigabit Ethernet.
The entire lineup is available as a barebones system, but for consumers looking to purchase a completed ZBox, the MI551-Plus models offer a 120 GB M.2 SSD and 4 GB (1 x 4 GB) of DDR3L-1600, unburdening the customer from having to install the components themselves.
Although it feels like Zotac is a little late to the party with its Skylake refresh, the addition of Intel’s 6th generation processors adds much more value to these mini PCs with increased productivity, graphics performance and power efficiency.
The MSRP for the Zotac ZBox MI551 (barebones version) is $459.99, with Plus-models coming in at $559.99. Both of these products are set to arrive at Newegg and Amazon in the next few weeks.
Updated: 12/11/2015, 1:10am PT:Added pricing and availability.
Derek Forrest is an Associate Contributing Writer for Tom’s Hardware and Tom’s IT Pro. PC gaming, graphics hardware and VR devices are among his favorite topics to cover. He is a lifelong PC enthusiast, former IT administrator and a custom PC builder with a penchant for creating music, voice acting and all things geek.