Zotac, a company that's best known for its line of mini PCs, just fleshed out its Zbox family with a new model. The newly introduced Zbox ID45 comes to town wielding a 3rd Generation Intel Core i3 processor (Ivy Bridge) paired with Nvidia GeForce GT 640 graphics. It's a bit of a blast to the past to see a new system rocking a last generation foundation, though Zotac claims this combination offers plenty of performance while remaing energy efficient.
It doesn't take a monster system to run Microsoft Office or surf the web, hence why we're starting to see so many small form factor (SFF) PCs as of late. One of the newest SFF rigs to emerge is the Asus Eee Box EB1037, which is a mini-desktop system that looks like a router but is a full-fledged PC build around Intel's Bay Trail platform with a Celeron J1900 quad-core processor clocked at 2GHz.
A new crop of small form factor gaming PCs starting at $599
Don't have room for a hulking desktop tower but still want to get your gaming fix? CyberPowerPC may have a solution. The boutique system builder today rolled out eight pre-built Zeus Mini Small Form Factor (SSF) Series PCs ranging in price from $599 to $1,479. In an attempt to cater to all preferences, you'll find Intel and AMD systems rocking AMD and Nvidia graphics solutions.
Steam Machine announcements are coming in pretty fast and furious, though not all systems are created the same. Enter Zotac, a specialist in mini PC configurations best known for its Zbox line, which is previewing a Zbox Steam Machine slated to arrive in the second half of this year. Details are few and far between, though Zotac says its Steam Machine will ship in an all-black 3rd generation Zbox chassis with orange lighting intended to give it an aggressive and sporty aesthetic.
Ultra-compact PCs measuring less than 13 inches high
One thing we saw towards the tail end of 2013 is a concerted effort to shrink the desktop. Perhaps it was Valve's aggressive push to get PC gamers into the living room with Steam Machine systems, or maybe it's simply the evolution of desktop design based on advances in technology. Whatever reason(s), the trend continues into 2014 with boutique builder Velocity Micro rolling out what it's calling "SmallBlock" desktops.
Microsoft last week made it be known that system retailers would not be allowed to sell Windows 7 PCs past October 2014. The deadline is known as the "End of sales" date, which refers to the date when a particular version of Windows is no longer shipped to retailers or OEMs, as well as the last day partners are allowed to peddle the OS. After listing October 30, 2014 as the end of sales date for Windows 7, Microsoft pulled a 180 and is now leaving it up in the air.
Traditional PC sales might be on a decline, but c'mon, they're not evaporating. Therefore it's business as usual for Hewlett-Packard, the world's second largest PC maker, which just updated its Elite line with four new models. One of those new systems is an HP EliteBook Folio 1040 G1, the thinnest and most durable EliteBook to date, the company says. It's 16.1 percent slimmer and 7.3 percent lighter than the previous generation, yet still is able to pass a dozen military-grade tests for reilability and durability.
Earlier today we reported on International Data Corporation's (IDC's) analysis that overall PC shipments are on pace to decline to 10.1 percent in 2013, marking the worst decline ever recorded. IDC reasoned that consumers are finding existing PCs are able to get the job done, as opposed to cannibalization by tablets and smartphones. While that might be true, one category that seems to be doing well is all-in-one PCs.
We know a thing or two about building insanely fast PCs, budgets be damned. If you need reminding of that, just take a look at our 2013 Dream Machine loaded with over $16,000 worth of parts. Sure, it's over the top (and without apology), but if we didn't build it, who would? There are only a few answers to that question, and one of them is our sister site PC Gamer. Giving our Dream Machine a run for its money is PC Gamer's Large Pixel Collider, "the most irresponsibly powerful gaming PC we've ever built."
We love Pure PC Power, and hate noise, so we set out to satisfy both primal desires with a hand-built and almost totally silent gaming PC
The Mission Powerful computer components often run hot, which requires loud fans or expensive liquid to cool them, bringing us to a central conundrum of the PC Power lifestyle—we want a big, powerful PC, but we want it to make as little noise as possible. Not only do noisy computers make it more difficult to relax, but there’s a principle at work here—you should be the master of the space where you put your PC; you must bend it to your will, not the other way around.
Note: This article was originally featured in the July 2013 issue of the magazine.