Zotac ZBOX Magnus EC52070D Home Entertainment Mini PC - Hands-On & Review - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 2 Old 05-18-2019, 11:40 AM - Thread Starter
Mark Henninger
 
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Zotac ZBOX Magnus EC52070D Home Entertainment Mini PC - Hands-On & Review

Without question, my living room PC is the most important single piece of electronics I own. I do just about everything with it, including all of my work for AVS Forum. From Photoshop to video editing to music production in Ableton live, it's the focus of my creativity. It's also the source of my entertainment, from streaming music to sports to YouTube, that's how I watch what I watch and listen to what I like. And now, with the Zotac ZBOX Magnus EC52070D Home Entertainment Mini PC, I'm getting a taste of what it's like to leap some years forward, from the big and many a bit clunky DIY PC I built and upgraded over time, to a well-engineered, modern mini-PC.

Zotac sent me a "barebones" Magnus EC52070D, meaning it had the RTX 2070 video card built in, but no hard drive or RAM. I'm not messing around, so I maxed the system with 32 GB of Ballistix Sport LT (16GBx2) DDR4 2666 RAM. The C drive is a 256GB SSD salvaged from an Intel NUC, and for good measure I added a Samsung 1TB SSD. These are both QLC drives (quad-level cell) which are super small. There's still room for a regular SSD in the easily-opened, compact chassis.

I'm just getting it going today, but the scoop is that this PC has a 6-core i5-8400T processor running @ 1.70GHz, with a "turbo" speed of 3.3GHz. This plus the RTX 2070 should allow it to outmuscle the GTX 1080 and i5-2500K quad-core CPU in my DIY unit (also 32 GB RAM).

I've got Steam, so games are part of the equation. And I've got Vudu. Moreover, I have two 75" TVs side-by-side (Sony X950G and Samsung Q90) so comparisons are going to be fun.

Another way I'll be using the Zotac is video. Lots of it. I have all these action cams and 360 cams—I'm addicted really—including GoPro Hero7 Black, Osmo Pocket, Insta360 One X, GoPro Fusion and Theta Z1. I want to see if this box handles the heavy render sessions well.

That's all for now. I've been running my living room experience off a PC for 20+ years, not going to stop anytime soon. I'm surprised at how long my last PC lasted so if I were to upgrade it would have to be to something quality. So far I am liking the Zotac.

FWIW, setup was smooth using the provided USB stick that had all the needed drivers on it, that got the rig up and running event-free.

Mark Henninger
Editor, AVS Forum

Last edited by imagic; 06-02-2019 at 05:21 PM.
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post #2 of 2 Old 05-30-2019, 06:39 AM - Thread Starter
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A minor update, I've been running the ZBOX continuously since I set it up and hammering it with some hard-core multitasking. Lately, I've been shooting a lot of 360 video using a Insta360 One X and a GoPro Fusion. I've had this PC rendering 5.6K 360 video day and night using half of its six cores; the nice thing is that it can still play back the video smoothly while it's rendering in the background. And it does it in commendable silence with very little heat output.

So far, I have noticed a improved stability as compared to my four-core DIY PC. Between the two computers, there is not an appreciable difference in rendering times, the ZOTAC simply has more headroom to handle multitasking. This makes using the double 4K TV configuration feel responsive.

Now, if you're the sort who likes to build and modify PCs, this box is not going to satisfy. Stick with the DIY, gamer friendly builds. This is a much more low-key device, a better fit I think for a living room or dedicated home theater.

So, the obvious main issue is the restrictions on streaming quality placed upon PCs. Grossly unfair! If it can somehow be worked out that you can stream UHD with HDR from Vudu on a PC, I'd have no use for the various little boxes that attach themselves to my gear like little leeches. I've always felt that Windows provides the most complete home entertainment experience, given all the things you can do with it. The unnecessarily draconian copy protection schemes that prevent it from truly being the centerpiece of a dedicated high fidelity home entertainment system need to be challenged.

Experiencing what a well-designed PC can offer in 2019 has me lamenting the current situation.

Mark Henninger
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