Zotac CI321Nano Barebones System Review



Today we are taking a look at one of Zotac’s latest ZBOX CI321 nano barebones system that is packing a dual-core 2961Y CPU. Something that makes this CI321 nano stand out of the crowd is that it carries dual Gigabit LAN and is completely silent with its passively cooled design. With the inclusion of an onboard IR receiver, this makes it an interesting option for a silent HTPC. With it being a barebones kit, you can use some memory or 2.5″ drives that you have on hand to keep the final build costs down. There has been a lot of growth in the mini PC market and Zotac has been in it for a long time with its ZBOX lineup.

  • Name: ZBOX CI321 nano
  • CPU: Intel Celeron 2961Y (2C/2T, 1.10 GHz, 22nm, 6W)
  • RAM: User Supplied – We tested with Crucial Ballistix 2x4GB DDR3-1600 9-9-9-24 1T 1.35v 
  • SSD: User Supplied – Crucial MX200 SSD 250GB
  • GPU: Integrated – Intel HD Graphics
  • LAN: dual 10/100/1000/Gigabit Base T
  • WLAN: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Built-in Bluetooth V4.0
  • I/O: 4x USB3.0, 1x USB 2.0 , 1x HDMI, 1x DisplayPort, Headphone-out, Microphone in, 2x 1Gb LAN
  • OS: Supplied Barebones, Windows 10 preview used in this review
  • Warranty: 1 Year
  • Price: $149.99

Retail Packaging

Printed materials that the CI321 comes with

The hardware that you get with the CI321 allows you to mount the unit via the VESA mount of a monitor or TV. You also get an optical audio adapter for use with a Toslink connection, a dual band WiFi antenna, and screws to mount your 2.5″ SSD or HDD.





ZOTAC Silences Powerful GeForce GTX 750 Graphics Card

ZOTAC has silences the powerful ZOTAC GeForce GTX 750 graphics card with a new passive cooled ZONE Edition. The new ZOTAC GeForce GTX 750 ZONE Edition graphics card combines the gaming prowess of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 GPU with a zero noise cooling system to deliver a quiet PC gaming experience with class-leading features.

“The PC is the only system where you can truly experience next-generation gaming with unrivalled visual fidelity and smoothness. Our new ZOTAC GeForce GTX 750 ZONE Edition gives gamers the performance and stunning graphics they crave while operating silently to focus on the game and not fan noise,” says Tony Wong, CEO, ZOTAC International.

Silencing the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 750 ZONE Edition is an exclusive dual slot fan-less heatsink that ensures the card operates at optimal temperatures for long gaming sessions. The heatsink consists of two copper heat-pipes and aluminium fins to leverage the excellent heat transfer qualities of copper and the outstanding heat dissipation abilities of aluminium.

Game-changing features such as NVIDIA GeForce ShadowPlay and GeForce Experience enhance the gaming experience with the new card. NVIDIA GeForce ShadowPlay enables it to record and broadcast game-play to Twitch for the world to watch while GeForce Experience ensures drivers are up to date and games are optimized for the best smoothness and eye-candy for the graphics card.

NVIDIA G-Sync readiness enables it to connect to compatible displays and deliver unprecedented framerate fluidity for an amazing gaming experience. It’s time to play quietly with the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 750 ZONE Edition!

Thank you ZOTAC for providing us with this information.

Images courtesy of ZOTAC.

Shipping of ZOTAC ZBOX plus with Windows 8.1 and Bing Has Started

Zotac is most known for their great Nvidia graphic cards and barebone mini PCs. Listening to their users feedback, they’re now venturing into ready-to-use system as well.

In a press release today, Zotac announced that the new “Perfect everyday computing mini-PCs with Windows 8.1 with Bing in four different flavours” have started shipping.

“Users requested we include Microsoft Windows with the ZBOX mini-PCs so the system is ready to use right off the shelf,” says Tony Wong, CEO of ZOTAC International. “We’ve been listening and thanks to Microsoft’s introduction of Windows 8.1 with Bing, we’re able to give buyers the full Windows experience in a mini-PC form factor at an excellent value.”

The quartet of ZOTAC ZBOX Plus mini-PCs will ship with 2GB of DDR3 memory and Windows 8.1 with Bing x64 pre-installed on a 64GB SSD.

The ZOTAC ZBOX C-series nano Plus mini-PCs provide silent PC aficionados with snappy performance and noiseless passive cooling in Intel and AMD flavors. The ZBOX CI320 nano combines the performance and energy efficiency of a quad-core Intel Celeron N2930 processor while the ZBOX CA320 nano takes advantage of a quad-core AMD A6-1450 APU with Radeon HD 8250 graphics.

ZOTAC ZBOX BI320 and ID18 mini-PCs deliver a good computing experience for daily web browsing and productivity tasks with dual-core Intel Celeron processors and Intel HD Graphics. A classic ZOTAC ZBOX chassis provides the ZBOX BI320 and ID18 with vast external expansion and flexible placement capabilities.

Availability has started at the different retailers, but most are estimating the arrival in 1-2 days. The cheapest price for the four devices as of writing is €124, €165,  €120 and $102 respectively.

Thank you Zotac for providing us with this information

Images courtesy of Zotac

Sapphire R7 250 Ultimate Passive 1GB GDDR5 Graphics Card Review

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Sapphire’s Ultimate series already has quite a reputation for consumers interested in passively cooled AMD graphics cards. Sapphire have been making their Ultimate series with AMD graphics cards for a very long time and there is a common trend among all the GPUs – they tend to be entry level GPUs. We’ve seen a HD 4670, HD 5670, HD 6670 and HD 7750. Today we have a new Ultimate series card with us from Sapphire, although let’s cut right to the chase – this isn’t new at all. The Sapphire R7 250 Ultimate graphics card is merely a Sapphire HD 7750 Ultimate, Sapphire have just renamed it. In fact from what I can tell AMD’s R7 250 was meant to only be a 384 GCN core Oland XT part, this is how AMD explained the product on launch and at their tech conferences. Yet a few months down the line and we now have these 512 GCN core HD 7750 rebrands being dubbed R7 250s, a move AMD has endorsed on its own official product specification. My suspicion is that HD 7750 inventories needed to be digested so AMD gave board partners permission to use those as R7 250s. The reality is that this is great news for consumers – you can get an R7 250 with more GCN cores and better performance for the same $90 price point as the Oland XT variant.

Specifications Analysis

So the Sapphire R7 250 is different to other R7 250 graphics cards we’ve looked at – it has 512 GCN cores at 800MHz. It has a lower clock than the Oland XT version but the extra GCN cores mean we will see more performance and this will become particularly apparent when we move into overclocking. The Sapphire R7 250 Ultimate holds a $10 premium over R7 250 reference pricing which is very reasonable.

Packaging and Bundle

The packaging is typical of Sapphire with their usual robotic theme. Key features include 1GB of GDDR5 memory and their passive silent cooling solution.

The back details all the key features a little more.

Included is some documentation and a driver CD.

Accessories are limited to a 1.8m HDMI cable and a DVI to VGA adapter.

AMD XFX Radeon R7 250 Core Edition Passive 1GB GDDR5 Graphics Card Review

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

While the low-end graphics card market is fairly monotonous, passive graphics cards always make for interesting system builds and the XFX R7 250 we have here today this is certainly no exception. The R7 250 from AMD offers a surprisingly punchy amount of performance for quite a modest price of just $90 and with low power consumption. XFX’s take on the R7 250 costs just $10 more than the MSRP and in return you get an awesome looking passive cooler but there is of course no factory overclock because taming heat is of the essence. XFX is targeting their R7 250 (R7-250A-ZLH4) at the gamer or HTPC user who wants a silent experience but with enough power to get involved with gaming or 4K playback. Unlike the R7 240 the R7 250 offers up almost twice the performance yet costs only $20 more, making it a viable gaming card for a user on a budget. The R7 250 does of course face stiff competition from the R7 250X which offers a substantial leap in performance for just $10 more but the R7 250 has the advantage of not needing supplementary power and being cool-running enough to facilitate a variety of passively cooled models.

Specifications Analysis

As we’ve mentioned the XFX R7 250 is clocked at stock speeds and is priced $10 higher. It is also worth noting that it uses only 1GB of GDDR5 which in my opinion is the best choice. XFX are not offering DDR3 models or variants with 2GB of VRAM which is a sensible decision – for this type of graphics card 1GB is ample. A technical detail worth noting is that XFX use the “new” Oland XT based R7 250, that is in contrast to the “old” Cape Verde Pro R7 250 which is based on the HD 7750. The HD 7750 variant is slightly faster but availability of these cards are quite scarce and so far I only see Sapphire offering Cape Verde Pro based R7 250s.

Packaging and Bundle

The packaging retain’s XFX’s usual styling and it points out the key feature – a passive 0 dB cooling solution with a 6mm heat pipe.

The rear details the card’s features.

Included with this card is a variety of documentation and a driver CD. There are no adapters, brackets or cables.

AMD XFX Radeon R7 240 Core Edition Passive 2GB DDR3 Graphics Card Review

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

The R7 240 may not be the most exciting graphics card to review but I think this review will still be interesting for a number of reasons. Firstly, the R7 240 is incredibly affordable at just $69.99. Believe it or not graphics cards in the sub $100 price bracket are actually the most popular even if they are not the most glamorous – so it will be very interesting to see what $70 actually gets you. Secondly, this is the first of our reviews on our new graphics card test system. As we detail further on the test system and procedures page this is a purpose built test system for low end to mid range graphics cards, we will continue to use our high end test system from upper mid range and enthusiast grade graphics cards. With a new test system comes a revised set of games, as chosen by your votes, and some new compute and mining tests to give you a wider perspective on what additional performance graphics cards can offer outside of gaming.

However, let’s get back to the product in hand for today’s review which is the XFX R7 240 Core Edition (R7-240A-CLH4) graphics card which features a fully passive cooling solution and 2GB of DDR3 VRAM. From the low profile, passive and compact design of this graphics card it should be quite clear that this is aimed at the HTPC market but also the light usage home PC or the budget gaming PC. This isn’t going to be powering a fully fledged gaming desktop PC, however, it will still play games at lower resolutions and detail settings despite what anyone may tell you.

Specifications Analysis

XFX’s R7 240 Core Edition passive graphics card has identical specifications to a reference R7 240. The main difference between the reference design is that this Passive Core Edition model comes with a choice of only 2GB of DDR3 VRAM and has a premium of $15 over the $70 MSRP on the R7 240.

Packaging and Bundle

The XFX R7 240 comes with XFX’s usual style of packaging and the front of the box presents the key features – a passive cooling solution, a low profile design with interchangeable brackets and support for stereoscopic 3D and BluRay playback.

The back of the box has a more extensive list of features.

Included with the product is some documentation about installation, warranty and other XFX products as well as a driver CD.

Additionally XFX provide a low profile kit that allows you to change your rear I/O configuration.

Passive Cooled Powercolor R9 270 Launched

Powercolour have rolled out their latest R9 270 graphics card, which features a completely passive cooler design. Now of course this may not be the most powerful graphics card on the market, but the temptation of having a card that runs at 0dBA is great for those wanting a silent build or HTPC.

The heatsink is of course huge, featuring six heatpipes to keep the thing from overheating and given the overall specifications its not exactly easy to keep it cool. The card features a clock speed of 920MHz for the GPU, 2GB of GDDR5 memory at 5600MHz and a 256-bit memory interface. This being part of the R9 270 range, the card is based around AMD’s Pitcairn architecture, which features 1280 stream processors, 80 TMUs and 32 ROPS.

Of course you’ll want a nicely ventilated chassis if you’re going to install this kind of card, but a little forward planning can get you a long way to a virtually silent, or at least a lot quieter rig. With prices of around £149.99 from places like overclockers.co.uk the card is affordable too.

Thank you Fudzilla for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Overclockers.

Akasa Reveals Fanless Newton V Case Series For Intel’s NUC

Akasa has unveiled its Newton V series of passive cases for Intel’s NUC platform. Akasa first showed these all aluminium cases at Compute 2013 and we know that they will be available in black, silver and gold. The passive cooling solution works by drawing heat from the processor, chipset and other hot components towards the body of the case. This means the case doubles up as a large heatsink.

Akasa have stated that this particular case is designed for Intel’s D53427RK NUC motherboard only. The Intel D53427RK features a Core i5 3427U 17W dual core. The Akasa Newton V measures in at 150 x 150 x 47mm and weighs 950g. There are VESA wall mounting holes and two holes for WiFi or Bluetooth Antennae. The front panel includes three USB ports of which one is USB 3.0. Pricing is TBA, availability should follow within a month.

Image courtesy of Akasa

“Haxx.eu” Unveil Passive ATX Case With Integrated CPU Cooler

It is very rare that we see many passive cases but seeing ones of an ATX variety is certainly very rare indeed. The company “Haxx.eu” have revealed an ATX case that doubles up as a CPU cooler too. These kinds of cases aren’t that rare in the mini-ITX and Intel NUC form factors, where the body of the case doubles up as a passive CPU cooler. Yet in the ATX space it is very rare. The “Fanless Case 0.1” made of 3.1mm thick aluminium sheets is capable 0f housing ATX, Micro-ATX and mini-ITX motherboards.

It offers up 7 expansion slots (aka midtower), has two 5.25 inch bays and five 3.5/2.5 inch bays. The case also houses room for a 140mm fan and 120mm fans but of course it doesn’t really need these at all. There is a rather huge aluminium heatsink over the CPU socket area for removing heat from the CPU, it is connected by copper heat pipes and a copper base. Haxx.eu says CPUs up to 95W TDPs are supported.

The case measures 180 x 420 x 420 mm and costs €333. To do it justice you’d really need to opt for a passive power supply, GPU and some SSDs to keep everything truly silent.

Images courtesy of Haxx.eu

Thermalright HR-22 CPU Cooler Displayed

While we did our best to cover as much of Computex as possible in our Computex event section, it just wasn’t possible to cover everything as there was so much at Computex 2013. But thankfully TechPowerUp were at hand to grab a lot of stuff we missed and interestingly they managed to find the new Thermalright HR-22 CPU cooler at the Nanoxia booth.

The HR-22 is the evolution of the HR-02 from Thermalright. The main change is a shift from six 6mm nickel plated heatpipes to eight 6mm nickel plated heatpipes which means it should have a fair bit of extra cooling potential. Furthermore the Thermalright HR-22 has an even larger aluminium heatsink stack when compared to the HR-02. Like the HR-02 it is expected that this CPU cooler can be used passively but Thermalright will supply a version with a fan, as these images show.

The HR-22 continues the off-centred design that allows in the most part 100% RAM compatibility even with a full sized 25mm thick 140mm Thermalright TY-141 fan. Yet on LGA 2011 and LGA 1366, where there are RAM modules on both sides of the socket, you will probably find that the RAM slots near the motherboard I/O (as demonstrated in the above picture) end up getting blocked while the ones nearest the SATA ports are unobstructed.

Expect more details of this product soon and hopefully we will have a review for you guys. If you missed our review of the Thermalright HR-02 then be sure to check that out here.

Images courtesy of TechPowerUp

Computex: Rosewill Display Silent Night Passive/Fanless Power Supplies

Fanless technology seems to be ramping up in the power supply market this year as we are seeing passive supplies with growing capacities. Typically we’ve only seen 300/400 and 500W passive power supplies at a push. However, on the back of Enermax showing their fanless 550 and 650W power supplies, Rosewill have also displayed their 500 and 600W passive Silent Night power supplies too.

The aptly named Silent Night series has 80 Plus Platinum certification and a fully modular design. Rosewill didn’t really tell us any specifics about the Silent Night power supply but given the 80 Plus Platinum rating we can expect some high quality hardware inside. There is also extensive venting through the casing to allow for ambient air to flow through without obstructions.

Rosewill, like with most new products announced at Computex, did not announce pricing or availability but we expect them to be available shortly after Computex and will most definitely be available in North America on Newegg.com since Rosewill is Newegg’s in-house brand.

Stay tuned to eTeknix for more Computex coverage in our Computex section.

Image(s) courtesy of eTeknix at Computex

Computex: Enermax Display Fanless Series Power Supplies

Enermax have been displaying their premium fanless power supply series at Computex this year. They showed us their fanless series which consists of 550W and 650W models and as they are both totally fanless they are also both totally noiseless. The wattages Enermax have managed are pretty impressive as most fanless power supplies are only available in 350-500W models let alone 650W.

Enermax achieved this high power fanless possibility by getting 80 Plus Platinum certified components that create minimal inefficient heat wastage. They also come ErP Lot 6 2013 certified.

The design of these power supplies is aimed at the really premium user – that is someone who has the cash to make their system totally silent and these PSUs will not be cheap. As far as we know these units will be announced next month sometime and available in August October sometime. The 650W unit will cost around £170 while the 550W unit will probably be about £140 based on what we learned from CeBIT this year.

These units use a Directly Heated Triode and a Copper-Bridge Array Transmission.

Stay tuned to eTeknix for more Computex coverage in our Computex section.

Image(s) courtesy of eTeknix at Computex

Computex: Powercolor Display Passive SCS3 HD 7850 Graphics Card

Passive cooling is quite a specialist market and a lot of us will find that we never really need passive cooling because we can get by just fine with some fans running at low RPMs. Yet for those crucial environments where fans are just not an option for whatever reason, then passive cooling has its place. Powercolor have developed one of the highest performance passive GPUs on the market in the form of the SCS3 HD 7850. As the name suggests it is an AMD HD 7850 graphics card with a totally passive cooling solution.

The Powercolor SCS3 HD 7850 uses a 1GB HD 7850 GPU at stock clocks with a rather dense aluminium heatsink cooler that uses four 6mm heat pipes. Everything is cooled passively and all that is required is that your case does have a decent amount of ventilation. We have actually reviewed this card right here so be sure to check out our review where the Powercolor SCS3 HD 7850 walked away with our innovation award.

Stay tuned to eTeknix for more Computex coverage in our Computex section.

Image(s) courtesy of eTeknix at Computex

Passive Cooled Powercolor HD 7850 Out Now

Powercolor has finally released their latest HD 7850 graphics card, a passively cooled and very stylish looking number that may be perfect for HTPC, or silent builds that don’t want to sacrifice on GPU performance.

The card if pretty well designed under the cooler too, with some high efficiency VRMs, Gold Power Kit PCB, Ferrite Core Choke and Solid Capacitors that should all add up to a really clean pull in terms of power usage and a really stable card overall. All this power management is backed up by their SCS3 passive cooler which features four 6mm heatpipes that feed that huge heatsink on the bottom of the card.

The card runs at stock but it still packs a fair amount of performance and given that it runs completely silent, that’s not a bad trade off.

  • PowerColor SCS3 HD7850 1GB GDDR5
  • Core Speed 850MHz
  • Memory Speed 1200MHz (4.8Gbps)
  • Memory 1GB GDDR5
  • Memory Interface 256 bit
  • Eyefinity Yes
  • DirectX 11.1
  • Output DL-DVI-I / HDMI / DisplayPort

Best of all, the card should be available at retailers from this week and should only set you back around $20/£20 over the standard card and that’s not a bad deal at all in my opinion.

Gaming at 0dB Noise Level

“The HD7850 strengths passive cooling solution with PowerColor patent G-shape heat pipes, which provides the same cooling effect as dual U-shape heat pipes, efficiently cooling down the temp. through enlarging the cooling surface. Also, armed with 6 X 6 ø heat pipes can easily dissipate the heat through the solid cooling based which fully cover GPU and key components, providing an absolutely silent and excellent cooling performance without any compromise. Furthermore, the HD7850 uses intensive and enormous surface of aluminum cooling fins can double the dissipation efficiency of heat away from copper based which fully covers GPU.”

Solid built with Gold Power Kit

“PowerColor SCS3 HD7850 is built by solid combination, the exclusive Gold Power Kit. PowerPAKSO-8 inside can provide stable voltage and high Peak Efficiency up to 82%; Ferrite Core Choke offers 33% extra power for GPU; Solid Capacitor secures 50,000 hours operating time. All these firm ingredients make PowerColor SCS3 HD7850 undefeated, and bring absolutely no-compromise gaming experience to every gamers.”