ZOTAC ZBOX Sphere OI520 Review


[section_title title=Closer Look]Closer Look

Due to the off-piste nature of our specific configuration we don’t have any off the shelf packaging to go over so we’ll be diving straight into the good stuff.

Our opening image is of the front right of the Sphere. Naturally, the most striking thing of the OI520 is its shape and I personally found it quite smart and wouldn’t have any problem with it being in view next to an AV setup or desk.


Tipping the Sphere on its back, we get a glimpse of the front and underside. As you can see there is a fan vent located centre and the feet are about half a centimetre in height meaning clearance for ventilation shouldn’t be an issue. The lock symbols show which way to screw the lid to open and close the chassis.



A closer look at the vent – you can just about see the small 40mm fan through the grill.



Flipping the Sphere back upright you can see the top and rear are extremely well sliced out for cooling purposes. The liberal gaps left in the chassis should ensure the Sphere can perform great as a desktop or media counterpart.




A closer look at the IO section should ease any fears of expansion limitations down the line. Six USB ports, 4-in-1 card reader as well as ethernet and dual display outputs should, really, have anything covered. As per the introduction wireless is integrated into the Sphere so you don’t lose a USB slot by having to buy a wireless adapter.




There is a tertiary USB port on the left-side of the Sphere which is used initially for driver installation. Of course, there is no dedicated disc drive, or even room for one with the Sphere, so ZOTAC had the novel idea of shipping an extremely slimline USB thumb drive which slots in should you need any drivers upon OS installation.



Sliding open the shell we get our first look inside ZOTAC’s Tardis. Obviously the Samsung 840 Pro takes centre stage here with the RAM off to the left (which was Crucial, for the curious).



A top down look at the internals gives a better idea of how far the motherboard tray sticks out. It seems obvious the Sphere approach to designing the chassis was to fit high-end hardware into a small space whilst retaining an identity beyond just being an ITX/NUC box. ZOTAC definitely achieved their aim, even if the physical volume of the Sphere defies its stature.



The motherboard itself is double-sided with the CPU being underneath, obscured by the mSATA 840 (the lower green PCB).


So, how does a RAID0 supercharged i5 SFF build perform when put through the Play3r ringer? Time to find out.


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