announced its upcoming next-generation-based Ion system at the beginning of March and has firmed up its launch plans and final system price. The ZBox (model number HD-ID11) is going to be a bit more expensive than what we were initially quoted; instead of $209.99, the ZBox will sell for $239.99. That's still significantly lower than the Zotac MAG HD-ND01 we reviewed (and liked
) last winter; it's only $5 more than the lower-end HD-NS01 which is selling for $235.99 at Newegg after a $25 manufacturer rebate.
It's important to remember that the Zbox is not
a direct update to the MAG products. The two series use the same chassis, but the feature sets are different. The two MAG systems currently on the market are based on NVIDIA's
original Ion chipset, have two DIMM slots, offer VGA and HDMI outputs, and ship with a 160GB hard drive and 1-2GB of RAM depending on the model.
The ZBox is built on Intel's Pine Trail SoC, uses NVIDIA's NG-Ion
graphics solution, and includes a 512MB frame buffer. It's clocked a bit faster than the original MAG systems; 1.67GHz on a 667MHz FSB as opposed to 1.6GHz on a 533MHz FSB (expect a minimal performance difference). The ZBox offers a dual-link DVI output in place of the MAG series' VGA but does not include a hard drive or RAM.
The cost comparison against the HD-ND01 currently is as follows. A single 2GB SODIMM (Crucial DDR2-667) is $43.99; a 7200.4 RPM Seagate Momentus is $58.99. That brings the ZBox's effective purchase price up to $341.98 before shipping. That's a fair bit more than the HD-ND01, but it's not a bad price—the extra $40 buys you DVI output, 512MB of dedicated video memory, and a faster GPU (NVIDIA claims its second-generation Ion will offer up to twice the performance of the original.
Given the additional features the price seems reasonable; we're quite curious to see how the ZBox performs against the Mag once both units are in the field.