- 3D Mark: Ice Storm: 25804, Cloud Gate: 3943, Fire Strike: 484
- Cinebench 11.5: CPU performance: 2.78, OpenGL graphics performance: 10.73fps
The Zotac is small, but the Haswell processor helps the ID92 Plus punch above its weight. In Cinebench's processor test the Zbox scored 2.78, which is better than both Lenovo machines and the revised Gigabyte Brix, and it'll still be competitive when all of the systems we've mentioned have been upgraded to Haswell – only the smaller Zotac, with its upgraded mobile Core i7 chip, will have a chance at overtaking the ID92.
The addition of HD Graphics 4600 to the Zotac's Haswell processor worked well in Cinebench's OpenGL benchmark. The Zbox's result of 10.73fps easily beat both Lenovo machines. The updated hardware in the Gigabyte Brix won't be far behind, but the Zotac Nano machine will be closer – or even a little quicker.
The new graphics core impressed in 3DMark's tests, too. The Zotac's Ice Storm result of 25,804 trounced the Lenovo IdeaCentre Q190, which scored 18,555, and the Zotac's Cloud Gate score of 3,943 was more than double what the IdeaCentre could manage. Of the revised Haswell specifications now available on rival machines, only the other Zotac will have a chance of catching this box.
The Zotac's processor and graphics core are clearly capable, and the Zbox case kept the interior cool: the processor's idle and peak temperatures of 28°C and 61°C are nothing to worry about. The ID92 is frugal, too, thanks to minimum and maximum power draws of 25W and 41W – among the lowest figures we've seen from any desktop PC. There's very little noise, either, at any point – even when the Zotac is run through demanding stress-tests. We only heard the small fan when we pressed our ears to the case.
The only real disappointment, when it comes to performance, is the hard disk. While the 500GB hard disk is reasonably big for a tiny, cheap machine, its measured sequential read and write results of 66.7MB/sec and 68.8MB/sec are poor – some hard disks are twice as fast.
Zotac's latest small-form-factor machine gets plenty right, starting with its diminutive size and sensible design – it's small enough to fit into tiny spaces, and the included stand and VESA mount add versatility. The interior sports easy access and upgrade room, and the addition of Haswell hardware means this system has enough power to handle a broad range of everyday computing tasks as well as casual games. Build quality is middling, though, and rival systems such as the Gigabyte Brix and Zotac Nano are even smaller thanks to mobile hardware.
The Haswell processor is a great addition to this tiny PC: the new architecture is efficient enough to make this machine cool, quiet and frugal despite its size, and there's enough application and graphics power to put the Core i5-4570T ahead of almost everything else in this part of the market – small systems such as the Gigabyte Brix and Zotac's own Nano only have a chance if they use mobile Core i7 processors.
The included hard disk and RAM make it easier to get going with this machine, too, and the Zbox is still easy to open up for upgrades and component replacements. There are plenty of ports around this machine's chassis, and it's also got 802.11ac Wi-Fi – the latest wireless standard, and a smart bit of future-proofing by Zotac.
This impressive machine isn't without issues. Rival systems such as the Gigabyte Brix and Zotac Xbox Nano might not have quite as much power, but they offer the grunt for daily computing inside enclosures that are half as small as the Zotac Zbox.
The Zotac's chassis is versatile and easy to use, but its plastic side panels are a little flimsy, and the glossy finish looks a little dated.
One of the components, too, is showing its age: the hard disk's read and write speeds are half as quick as better platter-based parts, and the disk obviously can't hold a candle to solid-state storage.
The Zbox we've reviewed comes with the 500GB hard disk and 4GB of RAM included, and a barebones version without both of these components is cheaper, but there's no operating system – so you'll either have to shell out for Windows or make do with Linux.
Other systems are smaller and the odd rival might be faster, but the Zotac is a great balance between size and power: it's small and versatile enough to fit into tiny spaces or behind screens, and the desktop-edition Haswell processor has enough grunt for applications and casual games – and it's able to best the mobile chips on offer in tinier systems.
The build quality and lack of OS are minor niggles, but the Zbox ID92 Plus is one of the best small-form-factor machines on the market – a great buy if you need a reasonable PC without using much space.