Top positive review
46 people found this helpful
High Performance, Low Temperatures, Low Noise. Near perfect device.
on July 20, 2014
I purchased this product from newegg for 499.99 USD and was delivered to me on July 18, 2014. I will update this review if necessary.
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 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 ssd as a boot drive and a 1 tb hard drive for media. One unfortunate thing is that when I did populate both internally, I had issues with my hard drive which tended to stutter and stop reading and writing inside the device. I did end up using an external enclosure with usb 3.0 connection which works well enough. I do not know whether it is a problem with my hard drive or if it's a problem with the computer as this hard drive has had problems. I will do further testing and update the review as necessary. 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.
The nitpicks I have to say is that I can not seem to get the included stand to actually fit on the device. It's not impossible as I've done it once but it is more difficult than it needs to be and I ended up mounting it on the back of my monitor. There are no drawbacks to that (other than a slight rise in temperatures as mentioned earlier) but I would have preferred to use the included stand. The front of the device, when turned on, has a glowing orange circle that looks rather nice. Also, the entire face and back of the device has a glossy and reflective plastic coating. I'd prefer a matte finish because fingerprints but as I probably won't touch the device too often, it isn't a very big deal.
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.
EDIT - July 22 2014: The stand is not difficult to put on. I found out I was trying to install it backwards. Yes, I am that stupid. But using the included stand is not difficult at all so long as you pay attention as to how to install it.
EDIT - July 23 2014: There is no problem with the hard drive connection. I simply had a bad drive. After doing some tests with a new 2.5 1 tb hard drive and 120 gb SSD, the read and write speeds are perfectly fine. Populating both the msata and hard drive caddy has no problems at all.
EDIT - July 23 2014: The device seems to not be made from the most solid material in the world. Not that I expected a carbon fiber enclosure with titanium supports, but it does feel a little bit flimsy, while I haven't encountered anything too bad, it does leave me worried about the longevity of the device.
1; High Performance
2; Low Temperatures
3; Low Noise
4; Low Price
1; //Can't seem to get the included stand to work - Disregard as of July 22 2014
2; Shiny (fingerprints)
3; //(Which I'd prefer you disregard until I get more definitive results) Using a hard drive internally with an msata card seems to have problems which essentially prevent the hard drive to be used. - Disregard as of July 23 2014
4; 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. I knocked one star off because I really just dislike the glossy coating but if not for that I would have given this a 5 star rating and I think others would probably do too. I'm really happy with this purchase.