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This review is from: Zotac ZBOX-BI320-U Intel HD Graphics Integrated by CPU Black Mini-PC Barebone System
Pros: Small, quiet, low power consumption, quick for what it is, modern graphics, no OS "tax", audio through HDMI works immediately as does suspend to ram and suspend to disk.
Other Thoughts: I bought this system to replace my dreadfully slow 425 Atom and to reduce power consumption. What I got was something that, at idle, drew 8-9 watts of power, 15-16 running Mythtv at 1920x1080 and 25 watts running the Unigine Tropics demo. Compiling a relatively small package like stella takes three mintues 30 seconds; in comparison, my 2.8 GHz Core i7 920 takes about one minute ten seconds. Half the GHz, half the cores and 33 % the speed, all the while only using 15 watts of power; amazing.
The Tropics Demo runs, albiet in the single digits frame rates but it runs and renders correctly. My atom would render Google Earth at slideshow rates but this Celeron renders it smoothly and easy to watch.
The box is nearly silent, only the disk activity is a little bright but a bit of electric tape can take care of that.
Nearly the best $90 I've ever spent on a computer.
Pros: Low power, will run any game that has come out or will come out until the PS-5 and whatever MS calls their next console. Processor-wise it's about 90% of a Core i7 920. Graphics-wise it's akin to a R7 250. It's perfect for a small, low-power, low noise build.
Cons: Current video drivers are still beta but work well enough. Some motherboards still have incompatibility issues.
Other Thoughts: In 2009, I paid $740 for a Core i7 920, 6GB of RAM and a nVidia gtx260 video card. The AAA game, Crysis, had come out and that system could really play it beautifully. Now I have this 7850K and my mobo, RAM and CPU ran $310. CPU-wise it's about 90% of the i7 920 and about 80% of the video; more on modern games that use features such as Tesselation that the GTX260 didn't even support.
So, on one hand, it can't keep up with a five year old gaming system but on the other hand, the new rig draws less power at full honk than the i7 920 does at idle. To it's credit, the i7 920 was in a league of it's own, nothing could come close or touch it, at the time it was an astonishing chip. Also, since then, very few games have come out that were even as demanding as Crysis so the need for faster processors and faster video cards have diminished.
Kaveri is also similar to the core processors in the Playstation 4 and XBone, because of that, few if any games will exceed the capabilities of Kaveri, at least until the next generation of consoles.
So is it the perfect chip for a bargain build gamer? No, a Vishera 4300 and a R7 260x will be a less expensive build and deliver more FPS but will consume more power.
Summer is coming and it will take 30-50 watts of air conditioning power to remove 100 watts of heat from a computer. That takes the amount of energy my i7 920 uses from 400 watts of energy to 600. Compared to the Kaveri which at full honk is pulling around 100 watts, the total energy consumption is 1/4 the i7 920.
My i7 920 now has a GTX 660 TI video card and can now render 3x the frame rates of my Kaveri, however, for a game like Tomb Raider or Far Cry 2 that run around 30-45 FPS on Kaveri, I can't really tell the difference, when immersed in game play, that the experience is that much better on a "real gaming" system. Then there is all that fan noise.
Pros: Works out of the box with Kaveri, easy to flash the BIOS, stable, no crashes, good performance, will accept DDR3 2400.
Cons: MSI is not a Linux friendly company thus I tend to avoid them; thus if you're doing a Linux install and run into trouble, don't expect help from MSI. Despite this, this board is one of the few that will post with a Kaveri processor.
Suspend to RAM causes a system hang and the BIOS interrupts the boot following a suspend to RAM. This happens with both Windows and Linux, thus don't use suspend to RAM.
Other Thoughts: Before you try to install anything on this system, download the latest BIOS from the (SLOW!) MSI web site and unzip it in the root directory of a flash drive. Plug it into your new system, boot and from the BIOS, flash up to the latest.
If you're installing Windows, the CD that comes with the MOBO will be sufficient to get your NIC going but your sound won't work you'll have to DL that from MSI. It's a huge file (well huge considering the speed of the MSI site) but it will get your sound going. Be sure and get the latest video drivers from AMD. As of this writing, they are Beta but seem to work well and are stable. Currently the driver is 14.3 and you have to hunt a little to find the beta driver.
The Catalyst driver works well in Linux and the rest of the board seems to be fully supported with the exception of sensors. Only one temperature sensor is found and it's not giving accurate temperatures. The Kavari sports the "Southern Island" GPUs which are not as well supported as the older GPUs. Despite this, it will be fun to watch the radeon driver evolve over the next year. Till it's up to snuff catalyst is good enough.
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