ZOTAC ZBOX Magnus EN980 review and test: expensive but quiet gaming PC for the living room

ZOTAC ZBOX Magnus EN980 review and test: expensive but quiet gaming PC for the living room

Water cooling systems today are found not only among desktop PCs. In April, we tested the laptop ASUS ROG GX700, the first model with a water cooling system. Now came the turn of the mini-PC. The new model ZOTAC ZBOX Magnus EN980 for cooling embedded iron uses water cooling, but the dimensions of new items is unlikely to exceed the usual audio / video receiver. This performance far exceeds the mini-PCs have been tested in our laboratory before.

Mini PC ZOTAC ZBOX Magnus EN980 was first shown in March at CeBIT 2016 in Hanover, but retail sales were scheduled only for the second half of the year. In Europe, the mini-PC is available in retail for several days, but only in the version we tested Special Edition. Unlike the basic version, your computer uses a faster core Core i7. In the basic version Magnus EN980 have to settle for less powerful Intel Core i5-6400T. As for the graphical solution, there is no difference. ZOTAC has installed video card NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 with 4 GB of GDDR5 memory. Used mobile version of the chip, but it is 1: 1 corresponds to the desktop version. Recall that a year ago NVIDIA introduced GM104 chip for mobile segment without the usual victims of Function Block. Thanks to the powerful cooling system GPU has to work at high clock speeds longer than laptops.

ZOTAC ZBOX Magnus EN980 Special Edition available in Europe only in barebone version. Therefore, the buyer should take care to purchase the memory, and storage. Dimensions 225 x 203 x 128 mm can be called a compact but SSD M.2 supported and an additional 2.5-inch drive. Memory installed two bars SO-DIMM, supports DDR3L modules, but not the new DDR4 standard.

The set of interfaces can be called modern. In addition to the four USB 3.0 ports have a game of mini-PC ZBOX available modern port USB 3.1 Type C. Present two outputs HDMI, two DisplayPort, memory card slot 3-in-1 ports and two Gigabit LAN. wireless network support is provided not only a WLAN module standard, 802.11ac, and Bluetooth 4.0. The mini computer system installed with the cooling water closed circuit, diverting heat from CPU and GPU 120 mm exchanger. As a result, the components are always well cooled, which allows them to operate at higher clock frequencies. A cooling system pleases pleasantly low noise level.

But there is a caveat: for ZBOX Magnus EN980 Special Edition ZOTAC asks 1.788 euros in Europe. Therefore, we face the most expensive system ZBOX manufacturer, and it is even more expensive than the recently announced models in Pascal graphics cards without water cooling. Add to this the cost of memory and storage. We chose the Corsair strip on 1.866 MHz and 850 EVO SSD Samsung 2.5-inch format with a capacity of 120 GB. It will be interesting to see how the price would be justified.

ZOTAC ZBOX Magnus EN980 review and test: expensive but quiet gaming PC for the living room

Below we describe the ZOTAC ZBOX Magnus EN980 Special Edition and conduct tests. It will be interesting to see how the mini-PC will show itself in performance, noise levels and energy consumption.

ZOTAC ZBOX Magnus EN980 SE | Hardware

Before we proceed to the tests ZOTAC ZBOX Magnus EN980 Special Edition, let me talk about the hardware.

“The heart of the” ZOTAC ZBOX Magnus EN980 Special Edition is a processor Intel Core i7-6700. He belongs to a generation Skylake and produced by 14-nm process technology. ZOTAC chose a desktop processor Z170 platform, which is only slightly inferior to the flagship Intel Core i7-6700K. Unlike the latter, the possibility of increasing the multiplier locked, so, in spite of the integrated ITS, the substantial acceleration should not count. In addition, the base clock and Turbo slightly lower – 3.4 and 4.0 GHz. At the Core i7-6700K nominally frequency can be increased up to 4.2 GHz. Four core support Hyper-Threading, so the processor can simultaneously execute up to eight threads. There are 8 MB of L3 cache, 1 MB cache L2 (256 kB per core). The data cache and instruction L1 is at 32 KB per core. Due to the slightly reduced clock speeds, and locked multiplier TDP managed to reduce from 91 to 65 W, which simplifies the cooling of the processor ZBOX Magnus EN980 Special Edition.

Skylake processors are equipped with an integrated graphics core. As we get Intel HD Graphics 530 case, Intel Core i7-6700 version GT2 with 24 execution units EU and the clock frequency from 350 MHz to 1,150 MHz. However, for today’s game iGPU still gives too low productivity. Fortunately, ZOTAC has established a fast graphics card.

ZOTAC ZBOX Magnus EN980 review and test: expensive but quiet gaming PC for the living room

If ZOTAC ZBOX Magnus EN970 or Steam Machine manufacturer used NVIDIA graphics card GeForce GTX 960 and GeForce GTX 970M, but in the ZOTAC ZBOX Magnus EN980 installed GeForce GTX 980. In this case, the mobile version is not inferior to a desktop GPU. NVIDIA GPU GM204 use the full version without cutting function blocks, dropping the name “M” suffix. Like the desktop version, the mobile version of GPU GM204 contains 5.2 billion. Transistors that make up the 2,048 stream processors. They are grouped in four clusters of Graphics Processing Clusters, each block contains four SMM (Maxwell Streaming Multiprocessors) for 4x 32 stream processors. Each cluster contains SMM eight texture units, so the graphics card NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 ZOTAC ZBOX Magnus EN980 Special Edition we have 128 TMU.

In the market there is a mobile version of GPU with 8 GB of video memory, but ZOTAC decided to limit to 4 GB. GDDR5 memory connected by a 256-bit bus. Clock frequencies NVIDIA memory chip and represents at 1.126 or 1.750 MHz, but due to the support Boost graphics processor may operate at a frequency of not lower than 1.216 MHz, depending on the temperature, load and power consumption. Due to water cooling, in practice, the frequency is not always retained a higher level, in most games, we got more 1.300 MHz.

Other hardware

Other hardware ZOTAC ZBOX Magnus EN980 Special Edition customer have to buy their own. In addition to SSD M.2 without support NVMe protocol into a mini-PC, you can install a 2.5-inch hard disk or SSD, as well as two memory modules in the SO-DIMM format. But last only support DDR3L standard, although Skylake processor memory controller can work with more modern bars DDR4. This lack of ZOTAC corrected only recently announced ZBOX Magnus EN1060 and EN1070.

ZOTAC ZBOX Magnus EN980 review and test: expensive but quiet gaming PC for the living room

For the tests we took the drive Samsung 850 EVO 120GB and two quick DDR3L module on 1.866 MHz Corsair production. We recommend that you install the operating system and the most important programs on M.2 SSD, and games -. 2.5 “hard drive, which can take the capacity of 1TB and above then you do not have to think about what games to remove to free up space .

Major ports, memory card slot 3-in-1, WLAN module and Bluetooth, two Gigabit Ethernet interfaces are already installed in the system. Power to the ZOTAC ZBOX Magnus EN980 Special Edition is supplied via two external power supply for notebooks 180 watt. All components ZOTAC packed in an aluminum case with dimensions 225 x 203 x 128 mm.

ZOTAC ZBOX Magnus EN980 SE | In detail

ZOTAC ZBOX Magnus EN980 Special Edition significantly larger than the previous ZBOX lineup in Magnus – especially the height of the EN980. Of course, the reason lies in the powerful hardware stuffing and an integrated water cooling system.

The color of the body is different from the previous models. For version ZBOX Magnus EN980 Special Edition manufacturer chose textured aluminum, although it is too noticeable scratches. Front mini-PC closed black plastic panel. Cap and base also plastic, but white.

Front mini-PC offers a wide range of interfaces. In addition to memory card slot 3-in-1 we get two 3.5mm audio jacks for a headset and USB 3.1 port. There is even a USB Type C port.

ZOTAC ZBOX Magnus EN980 review and test: expensive but quiet gaming PC for the living room

The two sidewalls are not as interesting. On the left panel there is a lock Kensington, helps protect your mini-PC from theft. In the right pane, there is nothing – ZOTAC refused even from the air vents.

Behind handed the remaining ports. Among other things, there are two wireless antenna can be seen and two jacks for connecting external 180-watt power supplies.

You can see the four port USB, two DisplayPort outputs and HDMI, two-port Gigabit LAN.

Top ZOTAC has established a panel with hexagonal holes, through which the hot air is thrown out. In ZBOX Magnus EN980 Special Edition air is blown from bottom, passes through the body, and then discharged to the outside through the numerous holes in the cover.

Bottom ZBOX Magnus EN980 Special Edition removed, after which you can reach the components. At least until the hard disk, M.2 SSD and memory. It is enough to unscrew four screws.

After removing the bottom of the housing can reach the components. Since ZBOX Special Edition is available only in barebone version without easy access is indispensable. In the photo you can see the installed memory and storage.

We chose two DDR3L strips line from Corsair Vengeance at a frequency of 1.866 MHz, trims operate in dual channel mode. The operating system and most of the tests we have installed on the Samsung SSD 850 EVO 120GB capacity. Of course, we could establish a capacious 2.5 “HDD and SSD M.2.

The advantage ZOTAC ZBOX Magnus EN980 Special Edition in addition to powerful hardware is a cooling system. ZOTAC has chosen water cooling of the processor and graphics card.

The reservoir and pump are mounted in a separate unit. According to the manufacturer, to service its not required.

A complex system of tubes provides a water-cooled Intel Core i7-6700 processor and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 graphics card.

Refrigerant enters the heat exchanger 120 mm fan. The same fan provides an air flow inside the cabinet, it is exposed to cold air from below blows it through the radiator, and then emits through the holes housing cover. As we shall see the results of the tests, the fan runs at low speed.

For sufficient ZOTAC power system had to use two external power supply capacity of 180 watts each. The processor and graphics card together consume no more than 250 watts, this power is more than enough.

ZOTAC ZBOX Magnus EN980 SE | Tests

Mini PC ZOTAC ZBOX Magnus EN980 Special Edition nominally provides a high level of performance sufficient for all modern games at high resolutions and with full detail. Below, we will evaluate the performance in practice.

ZOTAC ZBOX Magnus EN980 review and test: expensive but quiet gaming PC for the living roomZOTAC ZBOX Magnus EN980 review and test: expensive but quiet gaming PC for the living room


ZOTAC ZBOX Magnus EN980 Special Edition offers a lot. Mini-PC can handle all the latest games due Skylake processor and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980. This graphics card As for the resolution Full-HD, but, depending on the game and the quality setting, you can play in the resolution of 2.560 x 1.440 pixels. This applies, in particular, the game Grand Theft Auto 5, Dirt Rally and Tomb Raider, which gradually go faster than 60 fps. In the Shadow of Mordor we got the level of 55 fps, which slightly lower, but the game still can be quite comfortable. Compared with prefixes ZOTAC ZBOX Magnus EN980 Special Edition provides significantly greater levels of performance, despite greater detail graphics. PlayStation 4 in the same GTA V at 1080p 30 fps gives the order with a lower level of detail and at a range of viewing. ZOTAC ZBOX Magnus EN980 Special Edition is ready to work with the glasses VR Oculus and HTC, as it exceeds the minimum requirements for NVIDIA virtual reality, namely the graphics card is not worse than the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970.

In the synthetic gaming benchmarks ZBOX mini-PC also demonstrates excellent performance. Thanks to SSD we have read and write speeds of 525 MB / s, the operating system and programs run very fast memory bandwidth to planks topped Corsair 18 GB / s. Unfortunately, to obtain a higher level of performance through M.2 slot does not work, because the ZOTAC refused to support PCI Express lines and NVMe protocol M.2, as well as on the DDR4 modules. Both are available on the recently introduced models Magnus 10 Pascal with a fast video card up to NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070.

The advantage is a Special Edition a faster processor. In the normal version uses Core i5-6400T, ZOTAC is here established a faster Core i7-6700. In both tests, Cinebench, we got the result 809, or 8.95 points, which is significantly higher than other mini-PCs in this class of price and performance.

Noise level:

With powerful water cooling system and one 120-mm fan, ZOTAC ZBOX Magnus EN980 Special Edition remains silent even under full load. After loading the CPU and GPU tests Prime95 and Furmark, when the cooling system is working at the limit, the noise level increased to 43.7 dB (A). At comparable performance of notebooks and desktops noise level is usually higher. In games that are not as demanding on the load, the noise level does not exceed 42.1 dB (A). Under the office load the noise level was pleasantly low – only 31.2 dB (A). The fan controller copes with his work, we are not faced with a cyclic promotion / decrease speed.

Energy consumption:

The processor and graphics card reduce the clock frequency when idle, so the power consumption of the Windows desktop was only 33.7 watts. In games power ZOTAC ZBOX Magnus EN980 Special Edition increases significantly. System with our SSD and memory consumed almost 230 watts. The maximum level of almost 300 watts, we recorded under stressful load Prime95 and Furmark. However, in practice, a level unlikely to be observed.


With built-in water cooling system with overheating problems were observed. Under full load the processor and graphics card remained relatively cool – 86 or 73 ° C, throttling was not observed. SSD and motherboard temperatures, too, were in the “green” zone 47 and 61 ° C. Under the temperature of 2D-loading was much lower, we have a range of 42-44 ° C. So ZOTAC ZBOX Magnus EN980 Special Edition will work fine and hot summer days.

ZOTAC ZBOX Magnus EN980 SE | conclusion

Without a doubt, ZOTAC ZBOX Magnus EN980 Special Edition – one of the fastest gaming PCs on the market. Thanks to Intel Core i7-6700 processor and graphics card NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 system copes with all modern games, not only in the resolution of Full-HD, but in 2.560 x 1.440 pixels. The video card installed very powerful, although the market has already come out mini PC with a new generation of Pascal. In particular, the ZOTAC ZBOX Magnus EN1070 announced a full-fledged graphics card GeForce GTX 1070, which will certainly increase in graphics performance, and will cost less. Mini-PC with the top model Pascal can be bought for around 1,300 euros, almost 400 euros cheaper.

However, in the case of ZBOX Magnus EN980 you get water cooling ensures low temperature under full load as well as pleasantly quiet operation system. Under the regular Windows desktop work ZBOX almost inaudible. It is quite a high price barebone system will have to add the price of RAM and storage. The purchaser can install 2.5 “HDD / SSD drive and M.2, but in the latter case it is not connected via PCI Express, unlike many gaming notebooks. It is also not supported by modern DDR4 memory standard.

In general, the mini PC ZOTAC ZBOX Magnus EN980 Special Edition was released to the market too late. Maxwell Video cards already giving way to new models of Pascal, and processors Kaby Lake is not far off. If the mini-PC came out immediately after his announcements at CeBIT in March 2016, it can be recommended to buy. Even if the price of about 1,800 euros is able to “eat through hole” in your budget. Therefore, we can give ZBOX except that our technology award for its innovative cooling system, modern set of interfaces, low noise and high efficiency.

Benefits ZOTAC ZBOX Magnus EN980 Special Edition:

  • High performance
  • Very quiet operation
  • Many modern interfaces
  • Stylish design

Disadvantages ZOTAC ZBOX Magnus EN980 Special Edition:

  • Very expensive
  • The main body of visible fingerprints and dust

Source: trustedreviews

ZOTAC ZBOX Magnus EN980 review and test: expensive but quiet gaming PC for the living room was last modified: September 15th, 2016 by Tomas Shellby