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HomeReviewsZotac ZBOX Magnus review: GeForce RTX 3070 Mobile and Tiger Lake SoC in a 2.65 Liter case

Zotac ZBOX Magnus review: GeForce RTX 3070 Mobile and Tiger Lake SoC in a 2.65 Liter case


Under the Zotac ZBOX label, the manufacturer offers a number of compact PCs that are meant for various individual usage scenarios. In combination with the Magnus label addition, the direction is that of a gaming PC, which is also reflected in the built-in components. The current version of the Magnus EN173070C contains an Intel Core i7-11800H , which is supposed to ensure fast gaming operation in combination with the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Laptop graphics. This combination isn’t new for us as a laptop review platform, and we can already give a rough estimate on what performance to expect. In our equipment configuration, the Magnus EN173070C costs almost 1650 Euros (~$1743). However, since this is always a barebone system, you also have to calculate for the SSD, the RAM, and the Windows license. Depending on the components you choose, the total bill can easily surpass 2000 Euros (~$2113). Those for whom the performance of the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Laptop GPU is not enough can also get the EN173080C version of the Magnus, which contains a faster GPU with the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Laptop graphics. The CPU remains the same with the Intel Core i7-11800H . You can also get the Magnus EN153060C, which offers slightly less performance and includes the Intel Core i5-11400H CPU and Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Laptop GPU. Visually, the Zotac ZBOX Magnus EN173070C can be clearly distinguished. The Zotac ZBOX Magnus EN72080V was already based on the compact case, which only changed minimally in the front. Things can also be done completely without RGB, as Zotac shows here. Those who like a simple and compact design will be pleased. The case is made from plastic and left a very good haptic impression in our minds. Together with the added RAM and the two M.2 SSDs, the system weighs slightly less than 1.8 kilograms (~4 lb). Added is the hefty 330-Watt power supply, which weighs 1.3 kilograms (~2.9 lb). In terms of size, the power supply is about half as large as the Magnus EN173070C itself, which doesn’t need much space at a footprint of 21 x 20.3 cm (~8.3 x 8 in). At a height of only 6.22 cm (~2.45 in), the device is also relatively slim. The Zotac ZBOX Magnus EN173070C offers a wide variety of external connections, but this should also be expected from a desktop PC. There are a total of five USB Type-A ports and a single Type-C connection, which supports Thunderbolt 4. However, the latter has a limitation in that it is only meant for data. In addition, you can run up to four external displays simultaneously. To connect them, there are two DisplayPort and two HDMI ports. In addition, the users also don’t have to live without an SD card reader. The SD card reader inside offers USB-3 speeds and is unable to use the full performance of our test card (AV Pro SD microSD 128 GB V60). In contrast, the Intel Dragon Canyon NUC shows what is possible with UHS II support. Zotac uses a WLAN module from Killer in the Magnus EN173070C. The AX1650x offers Wi-Fi 6 and does a very good job in our test. The performance remains stable even over a longer time period and there are no significant variations. However, in the direct comparison, the Intel Dragon Canyon NUC with the Intel Wi-Fi 6E AX211 is able to deliver better values. We performed the test under optimal conditions using the Asus GT-AXE1000WiFi-6E WLAN gaming router. The Zotac ZBOX Magnus EN173070C uses an Intel Core i7-11800H CPU. This processor is really meant for laptops and offers 8 cores and 16 threads at a maximum clock speed up to 4.6 GHz. The SoC, which belongs to the Tiger Lake series, does a good job in the compact system. Zotac defines the PL1 value at 55 watts, and the system is able to consume up to 69 watts for a short time period. While the performance isn’t really reflected in the results, the SoC of our test unit runs at the level of an Intel Core i9-10900K during the single core load, and at times is even able to surpass that. On the other hand, the Intel Core i7-11800H is surpassed by the AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX in many tests. We only expect a noticeable performance jump with Intel’s Alder Lake P SoCs. Perhaps Zotac is already planning a small upgrade in the near future here, which should improve the performance in all the areas. The compact build requires a well-designed and effective cooling system. Zotac offers exactly that here, since we do not measure any strong loss in performance under constant load during the repeated Cinebench R15 load loop. In the application benchmarks, we see a clear performance increase compared to the Zotac ZBOX Magus EN72080V . Together, the newer SoC and the significantly faster graphics card ensure the good result. Overall, the Zotac ZBOX Magnus EN173070C is even slightly faster than the Intel Dragon Canyon NUC with its full-sized desktop GPU and more current Alder Lake CPU. In the render tests, the GeForce RTX 3070 Mobile is able to gain the deciding points compared to the GeForce RTX 3060. Looking at it subjectively, the speeds in everyday operation are very good. Whether you are surfing the Internet, watching videos, or playing games, the Zotac ZBOX Magnus EN173070C masters all these tasks without any problems. For this review, we equipped the mini PC with 32 GB of DDR4-RAM and two 512-GB SSDs. The models from Transcend deliver a solid performance. However, you can still squeeze a few more percentage points in terms of the performance by using even faster SSDs. The case can fit up to three storage solutions. In addition to the two M.2 connections that aren’t only limited to 80 mm length, you can also install a 2.5-inch drive. For a gaming PC, a fast graphics card is indispensable to achieve smooth frame rates. In our case, there is a fast graphics card with 8 GB of VRAM with the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Mobile . At the same time, you cannot really compare this to the desktop versions of the same nomenclature. Instead, the mobile version of the GeForce RTX 3070 reaches a similar performance as a Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 . The direct comparison with the Intel Beast Canyon NUC illustrates this very well. In the TDP classification, Zotac goes full speed ahead, allowing for up to 125 watts under load. With this, the performance of the dedicated graphics card isn’t artificially limited, as is often the case in compact laptops. This also leads to the at times good result compared to the average performance of the graphics adapter. The games we tested can be reproduced at maximum detail levels in FHD and QHD resolution without any trouble. However, when the resolution moves toward 4K, things can become tight at times. But there are still many games that can also be reproduced smoothly in that high resolution. You can find additional comparisons and benchmarks in our G PU comparison table . When you purchase a gaming laptop, you are usually aware of the increased noise level that this brings. However, things are often different for a desktop PC, since larger cooling systems are able to dissipate the heat more effectively and quietly. But since Zotac uses a very compact case here, the built-in fans have to work quite hard under load. The noise levels under load remind us of an average gaming laptop. At 45 dB(A), the device is clearly audible. Under low load, we still measure 41 dB(A). In 2D operation, the fans whirr along quietly and are hardly noticeable. During the stress test, we put the highest load levels on the system with Prime95 and FurMark. During this worst-case scenario, the Intel Core i7-11800H reaches a maximum temperature of 88 °C (190 °F). In the graphics card, we measure a slightly lower value at 77 °C (171 °F). The CPU clock speed is 2.6 GHz, which is higher than the basic clock speed of 2.3 GHz. The constant load on all of the components does not have a negative effect, and a 3D benchmark right afterwards produces an identical result compared to the cold start. During idle operation, the power consumption of the Zotac ZBOX Magnus EN173070C is between 31 and 41 watts. For a desktop system, these are very good values. On the other hand, compared to similarly equipped laptops those values are much too high. Under load, we measured 214 watts on average. At the same time, the hefty power supply is able to easily handle the peak consumption of only 231 watts that we measured. With the ZBOX Magnus EN173070C, Zotac provides a good product upgrade. The fast Intel Core i7-11800H offers a very good operation speed, and the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Mobile is similarly able to produce a good performance without being throttled artificially. The full 125 watts are available here, which means that even the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Mobile is often surpassed. However, we still have to consider that the performance levels are in the range of an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Desktop GPU. But considering the compactness of the only 2.65-Liter case, it is amazing what Zotac can offer with its ZBOXes here. All that of course also has its price. Compared to affordable gaming laptops such as the Acer Nitro5 AN515 , the price is at a similar level. Sometimes you even have to pay more, since an SSD and the RAM are not included in the base equipment. At 1650 Euros (~$1743), Zotac is asking for a hefty price. On the other hand, you also get an ultracompact gaming PC that you can store or take with you just as easily as a laptop. The gaming performance was able to convince us, and the variety of connections is also sufficient. At the same time, you also have to keep in mind that you can only transfer data via Thunderbolt 4 but cannot use it to run an external graphics card. This is unfortunate in our opinion, since it would otherwise allow you to increase the 3D performance without having to purchase a completely new device. The Zotac ZBOX Magnus EN173070C is a very fast gaming PC based on mobile components. However, before purchasing it, you should be familiar with the characteristics of a barebone system. In terms of the noise level, the Zotac ZBOX Magnus EN173070C loses compared to conventional desktop PCs. Under load, the fans have to rev up considerably, but the fan noise is still relatively comfortable and not too high-pitched. An alternative is offered by Intel with the Dragon Canyon NUC , which is another barebone system, just like the ZBOX Magnus EN173070C. While the device isn’t quite as compact, it can also be equipped with conventional desktop graphics cards. As usual, the customer has the choice and needs to decide which parameters are most important in their purchase. While the Zotac ZBOX Magnus EN173070C is listed at the Zotac US site and in many others of their country-specific sites, it seems to be hard to find for purchase in the US. The model most prevalent in the US seems to be the ZOTAC Magnus ONE ECM7307LH Mini PC, which uses a different case and already includes the RAM, SSD and HDD for $2130 at Amazon .

From: notebookcheck

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