Zotac Updates ZBOX mini-PCs with Kaby Lake and Thunderbolt 3

Posted by at 11:35 am on January 17, 2017

Zotac had talked about their mini-ITX GTX 1080 and their external Thunderbolt 3 graphics dock. They had also hinted about some updates to the ZBOX lineup, with some details about the ZBOX CI549 nano, a vPro-enabled passively cooled UCFF (ultra-compact form factor) PC with Thunderbolt 3 support. However, at their suite, we found that many of their existing ZBOX models will be getting a Kaby Lake update. Since Kaby Lake is a minor update in terms of features to Skylake, the Zotac really doesn’t have much to work with compared to the Skylake models. Despite that, Zotac has introduced some new features into the ZBOX series – including vPro and Thunderbolt 3 support – that are not present in the Skylake versions.

Zotac markets their mini-PCs in multiple market segments – the E-series for gaming, the C-series for users interested in passively cooled systems, the M-series for certain PCs with active cooling in multiple form factors, the VR-series for virtual reality use-cases, the P-series for pocket-sized computers, and so on. The Kaby Lake updates are coming to the C-series, M-series, and E-series. While the C-series units come with the nano tag (with a 5in x 5in x 1.78in form-factor), the M-series come in either the regular ZBOX size (7.4in x 7.4in x 1.78in) or the nano size.

The three tables below summarize the specifications of the Kaby Lake mini-PCs announced by Zotac at CES 2017.

Zotac ZBOX nano C- & M-Series with Kaby Lake – Specifications
Aspect CI527 nano
MI527 nano
CI547 nano
MI547 nano
CI549 nano
MI549 nano
Processor Intel Core i3-7100U Intel Core i5-7200U Intel Core i5-7300U
Memory 2x DDR4 SO-DIMM (Up to 32 GB / 2133 MHz)
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 620
Disk Drives 1x 2.5″ SATA III
Networking (Wireless) Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265
(2×2 802.11ac – 867 Mbps)
Networking (Wired) 2x Realtek RTL8111G PCIe Gigabit Ethernet Adapters 1x Intel I-219V PCIe Gigabit Ethernet Adapter
1x Reaktek RTL8111G PCIe Gigabit Ethernet Adapter
Audio 3.5mm Headphone and Microphone Jacks (Realtek ALC892-GR)
Capable of 5.1/7.1 digital output with HD audio bitstreaming (HDMI)
Display 1x HDMI 2.0 / HDCP 2.2 (3840×2160 @ 60Hz)
1x DP 1.2 (3840×2160 @ 60 Hz)
1x HDMI 2.0 / HDCP 2.2 (3840×2160 @ 60Hz)
1x DP 1.2 (3840×2160 @ 60 Hz) (muxed with Thunderbolt 3 Type-C)
Miscellaneous I/O 2x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C
5x USB 3.0 Type-A
1x SDXC Slot
2x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C
4x USB 3.0 Type-A
1x Thunderbolt 3 Type-C
1x SDXC Slot
Cooling CI Series – Fanless / Passively Cooled
MI Series – Air Cooling / Single Fan
Dimensions CI Series – 5.76in x 4.98in x 2.38in
MI Series – 5.03in x 4.98in x 2.00in

The most interesting one in the above table is the Zotac ZBOX CI549 nano / MI549 nano. For a home consumer, the most important update when compared with the Skylake-U C Series models is the availability of a Thunderbolt 3 port. Thunderbolt 3 brings a host of exciting expansion possibilities. In addition, Zotac seems to have retained the two USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C from the ASMedia ASM1142 controller.

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