Zotac Zbox OI520 Plus "Sphere" SFF PC Review

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Design & Experience

So, what's with the sphere? We hate to be the ones to burst the bubble, but there’s actually nothing particularly innovative about the Zbox OI510 Plus' design. By Zotac’s own admission (although it’s buried in fine print on the product page), the black sphere is simply designed to be a fun form factor that looks cool.



On the other hand, it is kind of cool and fun! Zotac has been making SFF PCs for a long time, and the Zbox OI520 Plus is a refreshing new design.

Granted, the typical flattish rectangular designs we usually see from Zotac are ideal for mounting in subtle sports such as under a bookshelf or behind a TV, and this black ball is not at all as practical. But that’s not what Zotac is going for here; the Zbox OI520 Plus is intended to be a tech chic piece, a conversation starter perched atop a shelf or on your entertainment center.

  

To that end, Zotac did a nice job of keeping the good looks in the front and the business hidden around back. The front is clean and smooth, and all you really see is the sphere, the light band, and, if you look closely, the little feet on which the unit sits.



Other than a lock port on one side and a USB port on the other, everything is tucked away in back--even the vents. There’s also a large vent on the bottom out of which the lone fan exhausts.



The finish on the Zotac Zbox OI520 Plus is matte--which looks great as long as you keep your oily fingers away from it--and the chassis is made of plastic on the outside with a sturdy metal frame onto which the motherboard, RAM, and storage are mounted.



Zotac boasts that the Zbox OI520 Plus is easy to access and upgrade, and we can back up that claim. You can remove the top chunk of the chassis simply by twisting it one way and popping it off; it’s completely tool-less.



Once inside, you can access and remove (or replace) the HDD and mSATA device easily enough; both are attached with just one screw that you can get to without too much trouble. The DIMM slots are right on top of the motherboard, so swapping modules out is quick and painless as can be.



One final note about the look of the Zbox OI520 Plus: Although the spherical shape is distinct, it seems to have been cribbed from Google’s ill-fated “Nexus Q” device, does it not?
 
Tags:  Intel, SFF, Zotac, mini-PC, ZBox, Sphere

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