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Zotac Zbox Magnus Review


We go hands-on with Zotac’s mini-VR PC

With so many exhibitors, it’s hard to bring something unique to Computex, but Zotac has managed to do just that with its VR-capable mini-PC – which may have more power per cubic centimetre than any other PC on-site.

The Zbox Magnus EN980 is a tiny 225 x 203 x1 28mm PC that packs all the tech you’d need for a serious VR gaming session. It includes a full desktop CPU in the form of the quad-core Intel Core i5-6400 and a powerful 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 graphics chip.

Video: Trusted Explains: What is VR?

The GPU is an MXM module, meaning it’s simply the processing unit and memory, with a totally different set of cooling kit to a standard desktop card. An upgrade to the GTX 1080 is likely to appear in the near future, too.

All fairly standard stuff so far, then. However, look beneath the silver and matte-black exterior and you’ll find a liquid-cooling system that passes through cooling blocks over both the processor and the GPU, with a small radiator and fan dissipating the heat out of the handsome grille on the top of the device.

Zotac Zbox Magnus 1
A Plexiglas model shows the innards of the Zbox Magnus

Performance is therefore excellent; in an HTC Vive-based demo of Valve’s The Lab, I experienced no performance issues whatsoever during the 10-minute demonstration.

Thanks to its water-cooling, the Zbox Magnus EN980 runs incredibly quietly and didn’t kick up much of a fuss during my session, which could be a key selling point in a market full of noisy gaming PCs. Zotac Zbox Magnus 3

It’s well-connected, too. There’s 802.11ac Wi-Fi, six USB ports including a USB 3.1 Type-C connector. Inside, there will be a choice of M.2 and SATA SSDs.

The PC is available as a barebones kit, where you’ll be supplied with only the processor, GPU; thereafter you’ll pick your own parts to install. Also available will be a version with Windows 10 pre-installed, for those who want a working VR PC out of the box.

Pricing is yet to be confirmed, but expect to pay in the region of £1,500 for the Zbox Magnus when it arrives before the end of 2016.

Opening impressions

The Zotac Zbox Magnus is a cool looking bit of kit in more ways than one. It’s small dimensions are full of top end components and mean it could be an ideal choice for any gamer looking for a lounge-friendly VR-ready PC.

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