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Reviewed: Zotac ZBOX Magnus EN970-P-BE

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Shawn Baker

Page 1: Reviewed: Zotac ZBOX Magnus EN970-P-BE

zotac magnus en970 teaserWhile the SteamOS has been around for a while now in the form of the Beta, time is closing in that the OS becomes more real. With the impending launch of the Steam Controller, companies are getting ready to offer SteamOS compatible machines that are ready for playing the latest and greatest games on Steam. One such company is Zotac. While maybe better known for their high end NVIDIA based graphics cards, the ZBOXs have been around for a while. With a potent CPU and NVIDIA based GeForce GTX 960, we’ll have to see just what this little ZBOX is capable of.

Almost two years ago Valve announced SteamOS, Steam Machines and the Steam Controller with promise of great things. The proprietary platform was a newly developed operating system designed to be easy to use and the perfect platform for the living room taking on Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft. Since the announcement, there were indeed some releases from hardware manufacturers time to time, but the lack of controller, Beta nature of the OS and difficult installation was a turn off. The following weeks and months saw the whole platform quieten down. The release of the impending controller, though, has breathed new life into the platform and in the coming months we’re going to see more and more partners release Steam Boxes. While the Linux based SteamOS lacks the same game support as the Windows version, the controller is going to be useful with your standard Windows Steam install and Big Picture mode. The lack of game support here means that most people with a Steam Box will most likely prefer to stick to the Windows version and Big Picture mode.

While the Zotac ZBOX Magnus EN970 isn’t sold under the Steam Machines name, it has everything you need and carries with it a size that can compete with a game console. Until the first real Steam Machine hits, Zotac will have adjusted the housing color and upgraded the hardware to the latest Skylake generation. Paired with a Core i5-5200U and GTX 960, the Magnus EN970 will set you back $799.99. To get everything up and running, you’ll need to add a SO-DIMM DDR3 module and HDD / SSD.

As mentioned, inside we see the Intel Core i5-5200U with two cores offering a speed of up to 2.7GHz. The graphics is handled by the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 with 3GB of GDDR5 video memory. Also installed in our machine today is a single 8GB DDR3L-1600 SO-DIMM memory module and 120GB M.2 SSD. While the SSD is a bit small for most modern day games, the addition of two 2.5” drives means that plenty of space can be offered while RAID is also an option for people wanting a speed boost. As for the size, everything comes packed into a 210 x 203 x 52.5 mm slim housing.

The Zotac ZBOX Magnus EN970 is part of the company’s popular ZBOX family and comes in two different variations. One is the Plus version we’ve got on hand today that comes preinstalled with memory and storage while the other is a Barebone version that requires both items to be purchased separately. Neither come with an operating system.

The ZOTAC ZBOX Magnus EN970 Plus at a glance
Manufacturer and nameZOTAC ZBOX Magnus EN970-P-BE
Street Price: $799.99 (Barebone)
Homepage: www.zotac.com/
Hardware 
Dimensions: 210 x 203 x 52.5 mm (L x W x H)
CPU: Intel Core i5-5200U, 2x up to 2.7 GHz
Graphic card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960, 3GB GDDR5
Mass storage: 1x 120GB SSD M.2
2x 2.5 "SATA III
Memory: 1x 8192 MB DDR3L-1600
Connections: 4x USB 3.0
2x USB 2.0
4x HDMI 2.0
2x LAN (RJ45)
2x 3.5 mm jack
1x WiFi antenna
Others: WiFi (802.11ac)
Bluetooth 4.0
3-in-1 Card Reader

Moving forward we’ll take a closer look at the ZBOX while also seeing how it goes in terms of performance, power and volume.