I purchased this product from newegg for 499.99 USD and was delivered to me on July 18, 2014.
NOTE: After purchasing this computer, you must update the BIOS available from the zotac website. There is incompatibility between the cpu i5-4200U and the GTX 860m which causes the video card to stop working with the newer video driver and preventing its use.
I got this computer because I wanted something cheap but powerful and a very portable form factor as I need to travel between work, school, and my home very often. I didn’t want a laptop because they tend to be overpriced considering the specifications and tend to have a low quality monitor, keyboard and touchpad. So I decided to get this as a transitional computer from a laptop to a desktop.
I must say and I nothing but pleased with this computer. Performance is top notch, while I was worried whether the cpu would bottleneck the cpu, I have had no such problems. I get a consistent 60 fps (with vsync on) at 1080p on high settings on all games so far, and ~45-50 fps on the highest settings. There are no performance issues that I can speak of. Although I would not recommend this computer on the basis for video processing or anything particularly cpu intensive, for those looking for a well performing machine that can run all the latest games (as of the time this review is written), I can not more heavily recommend this computer.
Temperature is a non issue. The highest temperature that I am getting on load is the lowest temperature on my laptop on idle (albeit it was a terrible laptop). When opening the device, you can see an absolutely huge heatsink (relative to laptops) which will not let you down. On Idle I am getting 35-40 degrees celsius and on full load (ex; benchmarking with furmark) I will get maximum 75-80 degrees but while gaming the temperatures generally stay around 60-75 (gpu and cpu respectively). One note is that depending on whether you choose to use the included stand or to mount it on the back of the monitor, mounting it will cause temperatures to rise about 5 degrees due to the decreased airflow. I haven’t encountered any throttling while doing this but that is something I wanted to note. Bravo to the engineers who designed this.
This machine is quieter than whisper quiet. This thing is ridiculous. Although I do not have a meter to measure the decibel output I literally can not hear this machine. And no, I am not using literally in a figurative manner (yes, literally can mean figuratively now). When idle the machine does not make a sound. I can not hear it at all. Even when putting my ear next to the fan, I can not hear it. No the fan does not stop at idle, I can both see it moving, feel the air being pushed, and monitor the rpm in hwmonitor. This thing isn’t even ridiculously quiet. It makes no sound. Although, I can’t say that if you happen to live in a sound proof box, all my time I have used it, I have never heard the fan when sitting in my chair. And yes, that includes while benchmarking or gaming. The only downside to sound is that while benchmarking, I can in fact hear the fan, when I put my ear next to the fan (that was a joke, it’s not a downside). So even while gaming, this machine is below whisper quiet. Sound is not an issue.
There is plenty of connectivity in 4 usb 3.0 ports, a dvi and hdmi video output, two ethernet ports, one spdif audio output, an sd card reader, ir sensor and 3.5 mm audio in and out. I do wish they included a displayport rather than hdmi but that is a small nitpick. It is interesting that they included two ethernet ports but I suppose one of them could be used in a NAS setup. I have not fully populated all the usb ports but I do have a usb 2.0 hub which I am using for my keyboard and mouse.
There are two options of storage in the form of a msata ssd slot and room for a 2.5 inch hard drive or ssd. Both can be populated at the same time. I am currently utilizing a msata 240 gb ssd as a boot drive and a 1 tb hard drive for media. And booting off of this ssd, is amazingly fast. I have used ssd’s in other setups (albeit not in any raid configurations) but none were as fast as this computer boots up. I am using Windows 8.1 as my primary operating system and Windows 8 does have some booting optimizations (If I recall correctly) compared to Windows 7. But gosh darn does this both boot up and shut down quickly. I was actually concerned at how fast it was, start up and shut down times being less than 5 seconds. I thought that the computer had some fault to it. If you are interested in what msata ssd I am using, it is the MyDigitalSSD. I have not used a hard drive as a boot drive so I can not comment on that. I did have difficulty when trying to install my msata ssd because the standoff was not properly secured to the pcb, requiring me to secure the standoff with a pair of pliers in order to remove the preinstalled screw.
Other small comments I can make about it are that there is a glowing orange circle on the front of the machine that looks quite nice but can be disabled in the bios if desired. And almost the entirety of the machine is covered in a high glossy reflective coating. It could not attract fingerprints and smudges more and is unfortunate that they didn’t go with a matte finish. But I don’t care too much about the fingerprints but I know some people will.
The only real complain I have against the machine is that the plastic used for the casing feels weak. I’m not sure how well this computer would last in more rougher conditions. Not that I expected a carbon fibre enclosure with titanium supports but it does feel a bit flimsy. But I haven’t experienced any cracking or breaking of the plastic so time will tell.
The final thing I have to say is the pricing, god damn is this inexpensive.
The device itself costs 500 dollars, if you already have a hard drive, monitor, keyboard and mouse, and a pair of headphones, which I’m pretty sure a lot of people do have, this is a steal. Even if you need to purchase said items, (50-80, 100, 20, 5-10 [educated guess of cheap prices] = 210 + 500), it is still less than purchasing a laptop of equivalent prowess (And equivalent laptop going for ~1200 or 1000 at the cheapest if you can find it). This thing is a bargain
1; High Performance
2; Low Temperatures
3; Low Noise
4; Low Price
1; Shiny (fingerprints)
2; Not the greatest build quality.
Overall, a very well made and well performing device. I can heartily recommend this even as there are almost nothing wrong with the device. Although I wish it wasn’t glossy and used nicer plastics for the casing, I’m really happy with this purchase.
I will update this post to include some pictures and benchmarking information at a later date.