[section_title title=Introduction]Introduction

Manufacturer: Zotac
Model: ZBOX OI520 Plus
RRP: £350 (without SSDs)

ZOTAC is a name we’re certainly all familiar with due to their graphics card offerings and once upon a time, niche high-end ITX offerings before they became a mainstream focus of motherboard manufacturers. ZOTAC have taken their low-volume know-how and applied this to their ZBOX range as we covered last year in the form of the ZBOX ID90.

In this review we’ll be covering the rather unique ZBOX Sphere OI520 Plus (whew!) – but with an extremely fast twist – we’ll be running and testing the OI520 with two Samsung 840 Pro drives in RAID0 to emphasise the low-volume, high-power nature ZOTAC are pushing with the Sphere.


Product Name ZBOX OI520 Plus
Manufacturer Intel
Chipset N/A
GPU HD Graphics 4400
Name Intel Core i5 4200U (dual-core) (1.6 GHz)(Turbo up to 2.6 GHz)
Memory Type DDR3L
Memory Speed 1600 MHz
Slots 2 x 204-pin SODIMM
Capacity 4GB (up to 16GB)
DirectX DirectX 11.1
OpenGL OpenGL 4.4
Ethernet 10/100/1000Mbps
WiFi 802.11ac + Bluetooth 4.0
Analog Stereo output
Digital 8-ch via DVI-HDMI adapter
Hard Drive 500GB 5400RPM HDD
Memory Card Reader 4-in-1 (MMC/SD/SDHC/SDXC)
DisplayPort 1
SATA 2 (1 SATA 6.0 Gb/s, 1 mSATA 6.0 Gb/s)
USB Ports 4 USB 3.0 (back panel) 3 USB 2.0 (2 on back panel, 1 on side)
Firewire N/A
Cooler Smartfan
Form Factor mini-PC
Graphics Output 1 HDMI / 1 DisplayPort
Content 1 x ZOTAC ZBOX OI520 1 x AC adapter 1 x Power cord 1 x Warranty card 1 x User manual 1 x Quick Install Guide 1 x USB drive with O/S driver 1 x Driver disc

What ZOTAC say about the OI520
Express your individuality with the ZBOX Sphere OI520 series mini-PC from ZOTAC. The ZOTAC ZBOX Sphere OI520 series mini-PC features a sleek and stylish orb shape that’s unique yet functional for everyday computing and multimedia tasks. 

The orb-shape makes the ZOTAC ZBOX Sphere OI520 series the easiest mini-PC to customize. Simply twist the top of the ZBOX Sphere OI520 to gain access to the DDR3 SO-DIMM slot, 2.5-inch HDD drive bay and mSATA SSD slot to install or upgrade your components.

Comparing back to the last ZBOX we covered, the OI520 takes a hit on the CPU front but has a relatively huge GPU gain over the i7 that powered the ID90. A hyper-threaded dual-core isn’t a slouch by any means, but raw CPU power will be behind that of the i3770S where the software can take advantage of the extra cores. The ZBOX also has a DisplayPort connector meaning resolutions above 1080p are supported (up to 4K) meaning this should be an ideal media box for years to come and the extra ‘oomph’ from the Haswell GPU will have all video encoding needs covered.

Aside from the CPU and GPU the inclusion of a card reader is nice to have on a system that seems ideal for under the TV and the mSATA port means you can expand your storage capacity to a large extent (or go for silly performance, like us) and yet keep such a small chassis.

Let’s see what make the ZBOX OI520 tick then, shall we.


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