Zotac is known for making mini-desktop PCs. Their products have always looked like good candidates for people looking to build a small form-factor home theater PC. While most of their previous products have relied on low-end processors, like the Intel Atom, this year they are bumping up the performance by offering Intel Core processors.
We took a closer look at the new ZBOX ID83 while we were at CES, and the biggest improvement over prior models is the inclusion of an Intel Core i3 processor with HD4000 graphics. Intel’s Core series with HD graphics have always been at the top of our recommendation list for anyone looking for a new home theater PC, but it’s been hard to find PCs this small that incorporated these more powerful processors. If the Intel Core i3 3120M (dual-core, 2.5 GHz) isn’t powerful enough for your needs they will be offering it with a Core i5 option.
There’s obviously more to a PC than its processor though. The ID83 has 2 DDR3-1600 SO-DIMM slots supporting up to 16 GB of RAM and room for one 2.5″ hard drive. It also has HDMI and DVI-I outputs for video and optical audio out if you need that. It offers dual gigabit Ethernet ports along with 802.11n Wi-Fi backed up by two antennas. You will also be able to pair you Bluetooth devices with the computer as it includes built-in Bluetooth 4.0. There are also four USB 2.0 and two USB 3.0 ports around the chassis in addition to a memory card reader.
Clearly this box was meant to be used as Windows Media Center PC as it comes with an IR receiver and Windows Media Center remote. It’s also VESA mountable so that you can hide it right behind your TV. You can purchase a bare-bones model to supply your own memory and hard drive, or get the Plus option which includes 4GB of RAM and a 500GB 5400RPM hard drive. Zotac showed the ZBOX ID83 at CES this year, and they plan to make it available soon for under $500.