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This review is from: Zotac ZBOX-BI320-U Intel HD Graphics Integrated by CPU Black Mini-PC Barebone System
Pros: 1. Haswell architecture with 10EU integrated graphics.
2. Small unobtrusive form factor.
4. Energy efficient
5. Virtually silent on normal usage (not gaming or benchmarking)
6. Easy internal access: 2 thumbscrews and you're in, even the HDD bay uses a single thumbscrew to secure the drive
Cons: 1. No wifi. 802.11 AC was advertised in the product description
2. No way to integrate wifi internally.
3. No mini-PCIE or msata slots
4. Creaky plastic construction
Other Thoughts: This is a very basic do-it-yourself barebones. Very easy to put together, It took me about 5-10 minutes to installing the OS from opening the box. It does not include 802.11 AC wifi as was listed in the specifications section and there is no way to add wifi internally as it does not have any mini-PCIE slots or onboard connector. If you want wifi you'll have to use a USB adapter. Glossy black plastic lid is a fingerprint magnet.
When plugged in but not powered on, the power and disk activity light glows red, switches to white when powered on.
The BIOS looks similar to the graphical type you see on recent Asrock or Asus motherboards, but does not appear to allow mouse control. Interesting options including a "low power mode" for the onboard GPU.
It may be a dealbreaker for some, but I didn't need wifi on this. I did take an egg off for the lack of it though (it was advertised as having 802.11 AC wifi) and the inability to install it internally
Added 4 GB of DDR3 (2x2) 1600 memory and a 128 GB SSD I had left over from a laptop upgrade and windows 7 installed fairly quickly. It took the longest unpacking the files which is CPU dependent. Downloaded the drivers directly from Zotac's website. installed it all in one go and on to the desktop.
Just using the box for basic prodcutivity, web surfing and media consumption it was very snappy and I felt it was more than adequate for the job. When pushing the CPU on big spreadsheet calculations or packing or unpacking compressed files, you can definitely feel it.
Viewing 1080p Hi10bit test videos was flawless in both MPC-HC and VLC media players averaging 10% and 35% CPU usage. Even the Walt Disney pictures magic kingdom intro which can drive low powered systems to their knees, displayed without dropping frames on MPC-HC
Benchmarking: Passmark 8 reports the following:
CPU Mark: 1619
2D Graphics Mark: 400
3D Graphics Mark: 377
Memory Mark: 1168
.5 Watts Power off
8 Watts at idle
26 Watts highest peak during benchmarking
Its a great basic box for someone who's building their own for the first time. Great for use as a secondary computer, web browser, media box, terminal...just without wifi.
Pros: With the help of Asrock tech support, got the motherboard lockup sensitivity under control.
QoS in the NiC driver does something...
Cons: Will not overclock the Pentium G3258 (The 20th yr anniversary edition) despite what the BIOS reports.
Enabling QoS causes stability issues with the Killer NiC depending on traffic type and whether other devices on the network have QoS enabled as well.
Other Thoughts: Overall, I'd recommend skipping this board and going with a Z97 board. The level of features vs cost just isn't very compelling to me.READ FULL REVIEW
Pros: It comes with a Killer NIC, performance is very fast. The build quality is good too, a lot of solid capacitors. Documentation is a notch better than the usual consumer grade board, the NIC comes with documentation of it's own.
6 native SATA 3 ports. An M.2 slot (uses sata ports 4, 5)
Cons: Very sensitive BIOS. (Ver. P1.10) If I made any settings changes, even something as trivial as disabling the serial ports or change the boot order, the motherboard may or may not boot afterward, necessitating 3 reboots to get the system to revert back to default. ATX form factor (Really? 2 PCI slots in this day and age? I would have rather they left it out and shrank it to an M-ATX form factor), Killer NIC has it's own software that installs with the driver that looks like a windows Metro app. M.2 slot (could have been an msata m-pcie instead)
Other Thoughts: Before I start, I will admit I am a fan of Asrock motherboards. I have been using them mostly over the past 2 years and haven't run into any issues with them. However, every now and then I run into one of their boards that make me scratch my head in confusion, this is one of them. This is a rather unusual board, in that it's an H97 chipset board catering to the enthusiast gamer crowd. It has an unusual mix of the latest and some unusually old legacy ports. It has an M.2 port for future upgrades but it also 2 PCI slots.
I tested this with a Pentium G3220 I had lying around so I haven't had the opportunity to fully explore all the features this board supports. The BIOS has a section for changing the clock multiplier on the CPU, strange for an H97 chipset as they don't officially support multiplier overclocking. I don't know if it works or if it's just a holdover from one of the Z97 boards Asrock also produces.
I would have given this board 4 eggs if the BIOS hadn't been so sensitive. If you are an enthusiast and need the PCI slots and M.2, this motherboard is for you. Otherwise, I would recommend something else like a proper Z97 board like the Z97 Pro 4m.
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