DIY Builds

As a kid, if you liked to tear things apart just to see what made them tick and didn't worry about being able to put things back together later, this section is for you. Anybody with a screwdriver, some zip ties and a little bit of know-how can build a custom enthusiast gaming PC. Here we'll offer you that all important know-how, skill set and insight, along with some other cool project-based stuff, from DIY Amigas to retro gaming systems built on maker platforms like Raspberry Pi and even 3D Printers.

The small form factor market has seen a ton of innovation as of late, and while it’s quite nice to have so many tiny PC options that offer generally impressive performance in a package that you can stick just about anywhere (often with price tags that make these machines affordable enough as your second PC), system builders need to work harder than ever to differentiate their products. Zotac has decided to take a stab at a radical chassis design with its Zbox OI520 Plus “Sphere”, and indeed, the black orb will make you do a double-take when you see it. It’s small. It’s spherical. It’s certainly different. And it has an icy blue LED light band around its... Read more...
If you're a proponent of the desktop, don't worry, the sky isn't falling on your form factor. Yes, we've read the same reports you have, the ones pointing out how traditional PC sales are shrinking in the wake of a mobile revolution that has consumers turning to tablets and smartphones for surfing the web and logging into Facebook. There's no denying mobile is sexy right now, but when it comes to getting work done and playing games with more depth than Angry Birds, desktops haven't lost their swagger. Desktops are evolving, however, and getting smaller and less intrusive. Zotac is a company that's been at the forefront of this evolution by offering up a constantly-expanding line of small form... Read more...
Zotac has been making ultra-small form factor systems for quite a while now. You can check out a number of our reviews of various ZBox systems right here. If you read those previous reviews, you’ll notice that most of the systems have been built around low-power platforms like AMD’s E-Series APUs or Intel’s Atom processors. With its latest generations of mini-PC’s, however, Zotac has been able to crank things up a few notches. With some recently released ZBoxes, Zotac has managed to squeeze in Intel Core-series processors, which put the diminutive systems into an entirely different performance category. The latest Zotac ZBox to hit the lab is the ZBox Nano ID65... Read more...
In addition to building graphics cards, Zotac is one of only a handful companies to fully embrace small form factor and home theater systems. Whether you want to build something yourself from the ground up, quickly assemble a barebones rig, or pick up a fully built HTPC, Zotac has you covered. The company offers a wide array of mini-ITX motherboards based on many modern chipsets (including the just released Z77) and barebones ZBOX systems for the DIY Crowd, along with full SFF systems that need nothing but an OS. Over the last couple of years, Zotac has introduced a number of ultra small ZBOX systems that have seemingly gotten smaller and smaller with each new generation. The latest model... Read more...
A new era of home entertainment is upon us. If you think about how you watch TV today versus 10 or even five years ago, it's probably a completely different experience. Nearly everything is served up in high definition, digital video recorders (DVRs) are now the norm and not the exception, and streaming services are making a big push to be the primary way in which you view content traditionally served up by cable and satellite TV. Unless you live way out in the boonies, you're probably rocking a broadband Internet connection, which is your gateway to any number of streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go, VUDU, Pandora, and so forth. With so much online content to choose from, you could... Read more...
Zotac is one of a select few companies that have fully embraced the ultra-small form factor and home theater PC markets. Although they’re also known for producing custom, high-end graphics cards, and an array of motherboards, which include a smorgasbord or mini-ITX options, Zotac’s Zbox and Mag lines of mini PCs are quite diverse. A quick jaunt to their website reveals over 30 ultra small form factor designs that leverage technology from Intel, AMD, NVIDIA, and even VIA. What’s also interesting about Zotac’s mini-PCs are their extensive feature sets. Zotac seemingly crams as many features into a small space as physically possible. If you need proof, look no further than... Read more...
Nettops are not nearly as popular as their mobile contemporaries, i.e. netbooks, arguably due to the lack of any significant horsepower within the tiny machines. Up until now, most nettops have been good for little more than basic Office duties, Web surfing, and occasional 720p (max) movie playback. There's a fine line that has to be walked with a nettop; there's far too little space to shove a Core i3 or better CPU in there, and besides, companies are trying to keep pricing at reasonable levels. Thus, nettops have largely been left with one main processor option: Intel's Atom family. If you've read a few of our past netbook reviews, you may have noticed that we've been somewhat... Read more...