Performance Summary & Conclusion
Performance Summary: Zotac has been putting a lot of focus on the mini PC market with its ZBOX line, and its ZBOX ID80 Plus is an interesting addition. It's built around Intel's new(er) Cedar Trail platform and features a discrete GeForce GT 520M GPU soldered onto the motherboard. Neither of these are particularly powerful components, a fact that's evident in our gamut of benchmarks, but as a streaming box, the ID80 Plus handled itself very well. It played back HD content from the Web without dropped frames, and it was also capable of driving our 30-inch display at 2560x1600, at least for simple tasks like surfing the Internet and firing off emails.Zotac has built up an extensive lineup of small PCs, and the ZBOX ID80 Plus is another worthy addition for HTPC chores. It's relatively affordable at $320 MSRP, which is more expensive than a dedicated set-top media player, but it's also far more flexible. With a wireless keyboard and mouse added to the mix, you can be the king of the couch in ways a set-top box simply won't allow. Or you can use the included media remote and USB IR receiver.
The model we reviewed here includes an Intel Atom D2700 processor, NVIDIA GeForce GT 520M GPU, 2GB of RAM, 320GB hard drive, and built-in Wi-Fi, along with the usual assortment of ports and connectivity options. That's a decent foundation for a basic HTPC, though we'd like to see twice the amount of RAM included (Zotac provides a single stick), and a faster spinning hard drive would be worth the trade-off in power consumption for a slight overall performance boost. Then again, if more performance is what you're after, there's always the barebones ID80 (non-Plus version) that ships without a hard drive or RAM. If you wanted to, you could slap in a 4GB memory kit and speedy solid state drive in the ZBOX and have a peppy HTPC in a compact profile.
As it stands, the ZBOX ID80 Plus is a respectable HTPC that's capable of streaming content from the Web and has ample storage space for your own collection of music and movies. We also like that it looks snazzy and has a compact footprint that can sit horizontally or vertically, or sit hidden behind an LCD display. It's not a great option if you intend to venture beyond the realm of streaming video, but as a basic HTPC, it's worth a look.