This mini PC is powerful and easy to upgrade, giving you desktop PC power in a tiny chassis.
THE ZOTAC ZBOX IQ01 Plus may look like a wireless router, but there’s some serious power hidden in Its plastic case. We’ve reviewed the Plus version here, which comes with 4GB RAM fitted and a 500GB hard disk, but you can also buy a barebones model (without the Plus suffix). If you build it yourself, which Is comparable to the price of the complete system reviewed here.
Either way, you’ll have to add an operating system, so if you want to go with Windows 8.1, you’ll need to budget a further for the DVD OEM version of Windows 8.1 64-bit. As the IQ01 has no DVD drive, you’ll also have to use the Windows 7 USB/DVD download tool (ihttp://tinyurl.com/windowsusbtool) to transfer the DVD contents to a 4GB flash drive. The IQ01 Is very easy to customise. All you need to do to open the chassis is undo two small thumbscrews on the base of the PC and slide the side away with the handy thumb grip. Inside, there are two slots for up to 16GB of DDR3 laptop memory, a 2.5ln hard disk bay, a mini PCI Express slot and a half-height mini PCI Express slot The half-height Mini PCI Express slot Is filled with an 802.11ac wireless adaptor, which also has built-in Bluetooth.
Round the back, the IQ01 has a rather odd selection of ports. Instead of the usual VGA and HDMI video outputs, there are two DlsplayPorts and a single-link DVI port.
Thankfully, Zotac has included DVI-to-VGA and DVI-to-HDMI adaptors in the box to make it easier to connect to your TV or monitor.
The single-link DVI port could be a problem, as this means you won’t be able to use It with a screen with a resolution higher than 1,920×1,200, but you could always use a DlsplayPort monitor instead.
There are also two U5B3 ports, two Gigabit Ethernet ports and an S/PDIF optical audio output on the rear of the chassis, along with two more USB3 ports on the front and side, a multi-format card reader, an IR receiver and separate headphone and microphone jacks, so you’re covered for connections.
The IQ01 is slightly larger than many mini PCs we’ve seen, but this means there’s room for a desktop version of one of Intel’s Haswell processors in a standard LGA1150 socket. Most mini PCs have mobile chips, and the IQOTs Core I7-4770T gives It a big performance advantage. Even with a relatively meagre 4GB of RAM, the IQ01 scored 83 overall in our multimedia benchmarks, putting It on par with many gaming laptops and budget desktop PCs. This is fantastic for a system of this size and price, and you can be sure It will be able to handle almost any type of program you throw at it. It could also play our 4K test footage without a problem.
The processor’s Integrated HD Graphics 4600 chip showed a lot of promise when it came to playing games. It’s not quite as capable as the Scan 3XS NUC N16’s HD Graphics 5000 chip, but we still saw a respectable 21.5fps In our Dirt Showdown test when we ran It at 1,280×720 with High detail and 4x anti-aliasing, showing you’ll get a playable frame rate with some detail tweaks.
We also tried out the super-pretty platform game Trine 2. We only saw 23.8fps on Low graphics with no anti-aliasing at 1,920×1,080, but the game was still playable at this frame rate. Once we dropped the resolution to 1,280×720, we found the IQ01 could produce a smooth 46.3fps at High graphics detail with no anti-aliasing.
It may not be well suited to playing games at Full HD resolutions, but the IQ01 is still a good choice if you’re looking for a media centre PC. You can download the open-source XBMC media centre application straight from Zotac (http://tinyurl.com/xbmczotac) and the PC comes with a VESA mount so you can attach it to the back of your TV or monitor. There aren’t any options to wake the PC from Sleep mode via LAN In the BIOS, though.
The Zotac ZBox IQ01 Plus is a superb mini PC. It may be slightly bigger than the competition, but there’s no denying its power or sheer value. If you don’t mind Installing an operating system yourself, It’s a great buy.