Zotac Zbox BI320 ... it's pretty nice!

Info & chat about quiet prebuilt, small form factor and barebones systems, people's experiences with vendors thereof, etc.

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Jay_S
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Zotac Zbox BI320 ... it's pretty nice!

Post by Jay_S » Tue Feb 24, 2015 5:25 pm

The Zbox BI320 is part of Zotac's B series (where "B" stands for Basic). There's a bunch of different configurations, many are country-specific. I'm in the USA where two versions are readily available:
Barebones P/N: ZBOX-BI320-U
Mini PC P/N: ZBOX-BI320-U-W2

(The "U" means USA market, the "W2" includes Windows)

In my opinion, the mini PC is the one to get, even if you don't want Windows 8.1 w/Bing. It alone includes the mSATA mini PCIe slot on the back of the motherboard. The barebones model has the solder pads, but not the connector.

This is an inexpensive complete desktop PC. It's price jumps around between $160-$200. I purchased it on sale from Newegg for $140. Amazon sells it as well. You can track its price over time on camelcamelcamel.com (ASIN B00M2UKY1Q). The "usual" sale price is $159.

Basic specs:
  • CPU: Haswell Celeron 2957U (1.40GHz)
    RAM: two slots, one comes populated with a 2GB DDR3 1.35V SODIMM
    HDD: comes with a 64GB mSATA SSD (preinstalled underside of motherboard), PLUS a 2.5" tool-less HDD site.
    OS: Windows 8.1 with Bing, 64-bit;includes reinstallation media
I purchased another 2GB SODIMM from Crucial (P/N: CT6636620 - $20).
http://www.crucial.com/usa/en/zbox-bi320/CT6636620

Even with 2GB of RAM, the system was perfectly responsive in everyday basic use. I honestly do not notice a performance difference with the second stick of RAM, but I haven't tried opening 50 firefox tabs or anything yet.

The case is very cheap, thin plastic. It's easy to open (two thumb screws), exposing the RAM slots and 2.5” HDD site.

The 64GB SSD is made by Forsee, model# S600M064G. It's actually not that bad!
CrDM_Forsee.png
In my brief experience so far, the biggest limitation is the CPU. I've kept task manager open, casually keeping an eye on CPU usage. Even seemingly simple tasks peg one or both CPU cores. Windows updates and Disc Cleanup, for example.

Noise:
It's about 25cm closer to me than my gaming PC, and it's quieter. Even with the CPU at 99% (Windows Updates?!) the fan speed did not increase and the outlet air wasn't noticeably warm. It's not silent, but it's very quiet. It's a soft “hiss” more or less.

Power consumption measurements with my kill-a-watt:
Off = 1W
Boot peak = 13W
Win 8.1 desktop idle = 5W
1080p full-screen youtube = 10W
Windows Disc Cleanup (99% CPU) = 11-12W!

I'm watching for a deal/steal on a 2.5" HDD to see how this performs as a little file server. At ~5 watts idle, that beats my current lowest-power file server by 10 watts! I picture an identical pair of these little machines with 1TB HDDs, a primary NAS and a mirror that wakes up to do nightly backups.
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Jay_S
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Re: Zotac Zbox BI320 ... it's pretty nice!

Post by Jay_S » Tue Feb 24, 2015 5:37 pm

Just for giggles... the new system stability benchmark: Win 8.1 w/Bing Disk Cleanup!
Disk_Cleanup_WTF.png
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CA_Steve
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Re: Zotac Zbox BI320 ... it's pretty nice!

Post by CA_Steve » Tue Feb 24, 2015 9:05 pm

For grins, take a look at CPU utilization and power use under Netflix.
1080p Gaming build: i5-4670K, Mugen 4, Asrock Z97 Anniversary, MSI GTX 1660 Gaming X, 8GB 1866 RAM, Samsung 860 Evo 500GB, Crucial MX100 256GB, WD Red 2TB, Samsung DVD burner, Fractal Define R4, Antec True Quiet 140 (2 front + rear) case fans, Seasonic SSR-550FX. 35W idle, 45-55W video streaming, 170-200W WoW, 318W stress test (Prime95 + Furmark)

Jay_S
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Re: Zotac Zbox BI320 ... it's pretty nice!

Post by Jay_S » Wed Feb 25, 2015 5:16 am

Alas, we canceled our Netflix account years ago. It was turning us into zombies.
it's the only jib I got, baby

CA_Steve
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Re: Zotac Zbox BI320 ... it's pretty nice!

Post by CA_Steve » Wed Feb 25, 2015 9:21 am

ok - how about Hulu? :D I'd like to compare your system's power use and cpu utilization to mine.
Power Use:
Off: <1W
Sleep: 2W
Idle: 6W (occasionally 7W).
YouTube: Firefox 1080P(Flash) 7-9W; Chrome 720P (HTML5) 11-13W
Netflix 720P: Firefox (Silverlight) 12-14W; Chrome (HTML5) 10-13W
1080p Gaming build: i5-4670K, Mugen 4, Asrock Z97 Anniversary, MSI GTX 1660 Gaming X, 8GB 1866 RAM, Samsung 860 Evo 500GB, Crucial MX100 256GB, WD Red 2TB, Samsung DVD burner, Fractal Define R4, Antec True Quiet 140 (2 front + rear) case fans, Seasonic SSR-550FX. 35W idle, 45-55W video streaming, 170-200W WoW, 318W stress test (Prime95 + Furmark)

Jay_S
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Re: Zotac Zbox BI320 ... it's pretty nice!

Post by Jay_S » Wed Feb 25, 2015 5:57 pm

CA_Steve wrote:ok - how about Hulu?
Hulu in Firefox...

Code: Select all

Windowed        30% CPU      8W
Fullscreen      34% CPU     10W
it's the only jib I got, baby

CA_Steve
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Re: Zotac Zbox BI320 ... it's pretty nice!

Post by CA_Steve » Fri Feb 27, 2015 11:13 am

Here's mine for Hulu (first few minutes of Arrow):
Firefox
- windowed 30% CPU, 8-9W
- Full screen 35%, 9W

Chrome
- windowed 45% CPU, 11W
- full screen 70%, 12W
1080p Gaming build: i5-4670K, Mugen 4, Asrock Z97 Anniversary, MSI GTX 1660 Gaming X, 8GB 1866 RAM, Samsung 860 Evo 500GB, Crucial MX100 256GB, WD Red 2TB, Samsung DVD burner, Fractal Define R4, Antec True Quiet 140 (2 front + rear) case fans, Seasonic SSR-550FX. 35W idle, 45-55W video streaming, 170-200W WoW, 318W stress test (Prime95 + Furmark)

Jay_S
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Re: Zotac Zbox BI320 ... it's pretty nice!

Post by Jay_S » Sat Mar 14, 2015 6:50 am

I scavenged a 2.5" HDD from an old laptop. Nothing special. It's just space to point user directories at. This PC is going to my mother, who needs more space than the 64GB SSD has remaining, but nothing huge.

Hitachi Travelstar 5K320
Model# HTS543216L9A300
160GB, 5400 RPM

Noise hasn't increased appreciably with the HDD. It's quieter than the system fan, which is already quiet.

And not a whole lot changed in terms of power consumption:

Code: Select all

boot peak:       14w
idle:             5w
defender scan:   12w
500MB file copy: 13w
[edited to add]
Also, the motherboard mounting holes are NOT mITX spacing. They're smaller and symmetrical: ~145mm x ~156mm. So, no easy case swaps.
it's the only jib I got, baby

quest_for_silence
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Re: Zotac Zbox BI320 ... it's pretty nice!

Post by quest_for_silence » Sat Mar 14, 2015 8:26 am

Jay_S wrote:Hitachi Travelstar 5K320
Model# HTS543216L9A300
160GB, 5400 RPM

Noise hasn't increased appreciably with the HDD. It's quieter than the system fan, which is already quiet.
That 5K320 is one of the quietest (top three? Top five?) HDDs of all time, though it's really slow (nowadays).
Regards,
Luca

Support SPCR, use these links when you buy: NCIX, Amazon and Newegg

Jay_S
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Re: Zotac Zbox BI320 ... it's pretty nice!

Post by Jay_S » Sat Mar 14, 2015 9:13 pm

quest_for_silence wrote:That 5K320 is one of the quietest (top three? Top five?) HDDs of all time, though it's really slow (nowadays).
It originally came in a budget Acer laptop that rec'd a SSD upgrade a while ago (an old OCZ Agility 2). The laptop's CPU fan behavior is completely annoying. It cycles between off and (what seems like) 75% and then 100%. So stupid. It's ironic that one of the quietest drives was packaged with one of the most annoying fan controllers. Whole bits of cheap plastic have broken off the laptop, including the screen latch. There's a trick to opening it; it's like a security feature I suppose. I still use the laptop almost daily. I lust ofter a new XPS 13, but my Acer isn't broken enough to warrant replacement.

After swapping in the SSD I gave the HDD to my boss's kid, but his laptop suffered a bad end so I cannibalized it for parts (got my old Hitachi HDD back + a pair of DDR3 1.35V SODIMMs and a Broadcom mini PCIe .11g wlan adapter).

If the subject Zotac BI320 goes back on sale, I plan to buy more of them. Those SODIMMs will come in handy then.
it's the only jib I got, baby

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