Zotac: MAG vs. ZBOX

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Hannes The Hun Offline
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I have my Revo 3600 up and running with XBMCbuntu just fine for months now, but for some reasons I'd rather use the revo now elsewhere as mainly an office PC and go for a new Ion system.

after thinking about building my own Mini-ITX HTPC system for awhile, I've come to the conclusion that neither price nor customization options make that big of a difference, so I started looking again at the complete systems.

besides having been very happy with my revo, the weird form factor and some problems with the fan prevent me from just buying another one. also, replacing internal components is a pain in the arse... the Zotac systems have a much nicer, more ordinary case and I like the overall history and expertise of the manufacturer.

now it's just a decision between the gen1 atom/Ion (MAG) and the pinetrail/Ion2 system (ZBOX). add.: there's also a "Zbox" with gen1 atom that has DDR3 support, I'm referring to the pinetrail Zbox

after some reading, the new pinetrail-Zbox has limited memory bandwidth between the GPU and CPU/RAM compared to the first gen, which -at the moment- results in poor flash acceleration; nvidia might try to fix this. no support for dual channel RAM and only one PCI-E lane for the Ion GPU sucks, even if it is somewhat compensated by the 512MB GPU-only RAM.

HD playback via XBMCbuntu (which is what I'm planning to do nearly 100%) seems just as fine as first gen/MAG, no differences there. at the moment there may be the need for new ALSA drivers, have to check if this would also be the case when using lucid as host OS.
interface-wise both systems should be identical AFAIK. the nice thing about the Zbox is that I can get it completely barebone and install an intel 40GB SSD (which should boost overall performance significantly) while for the MAG I have to pay for a slow HDD inside that I won't be using at all.

guys, what would you do? Frown is *newer* always also *better* ?

OpenElec Standalone --> Asus Chromebox 'Panther' --> Onkyo TX-NR709 --> Sharp Aquos LC-46XD1E
Asus Chromebox EZ Script
(This post was last modified: 2010-05-24 16:14 by Hannes The Hun.)
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aptalca Offline
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Post: #2
I am having a similar debate with myself as well. If the revo had the s/pdif in the back, I would go with that.

However, as you mentioned mag and the zbox look a lot cooler as htpcs. From what I read though, the mag apparently gets really hot, the wireless is useless and the fan is noisy. Although I haven't been able to find good reviews that address these issues for the zbox, it seems like zbox doesn't really offer anything extra compared to the 1st gen ion (apart from divx acceleration which is not needed that bad) it actually might have worse results for accelerated flash.

Overall, I am still not decided, I am just waiting to see more reviews on the zbox.
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Hannes The Hun Offline
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Post: #3
my old plan was to build a noiseless system comprising zotac ION-ITX B with 2x1GB DDR2 and intel 40GB SSD inside a JCP MI 103 or 102, add a slimline bluray drive and try to mod my HP MCE IR dongle inside. maybe I'm gonna recalculate this first Wink

OpenElec Standalone --> Asus Chromebox 'Panther' --> Onkyo TX-NR709 --> Sharp Aquos LC-46XD1E
Asus Chromebox EZ Script
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Geeba Offline
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Same here.... ZBOX would be the go for me but I'm not reading great things.... just sold my Antec Minuet setup as it was just to big.... so I'm currently back on old faithful the Xbox... looked at loads, Asrock, acer, MAG, Foxcon, Zino... and was excited to see the Zbox.... but now not completely convinced Confused
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poofyhairguy Offline
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Post: #5
Advantages of ION1:

1. Can play all x264 ION2 can.
2. Can pass to the receiver 8 channel PCM audio in Linux (a feature broken in newer Nvidia releases that an ION2 requires).
3. Should be cheaper
4. Doesn't have to deal with Intel's attempt to block Nvidia from the Atom platform (aka the PCI-E 1x issue).

Advantages of ION2:

1. Plays everything an ION1 does.
2. Upscales divx video.
3. Based on slightly faster Atoms.
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magnetik Offline
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Post: #6
Nice summary.

The upscaling of DivX is nice, but in all honesty I encode everything to H.264 in MKV containers now, so this is going to be a dying requirement.
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Geeba Offline
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Sooooo Poofyhairyguy.... what would you recommend? is the ZBOX any good? is a dual core atom running single channel memory a daft thing to do?

Should I wait for the next thing or maybe the Boxee Box?

Xbox was easy! LOL! you had a black or crystal one! obviously there were a few differences inside but that didnt really matter....
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Hannes The Hun Offline
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Post: #8
Geeba Wrote:Should I wait for the next thing or maybe the Boxee Box?

lol that was exactly my third option Cool but as far as I heard nvidia has had some problems with the tegra2 chipset production, so stuff like the boxee box might be delayed some months

when doing some more research for a barebone system with a nice small form factor I stumbled upon the Foxconn nT330i Nettop/Netbox:

http://joel.thegoodmanblog.com/2010/04/0...nn-nt330i/
http://www.netbooknews.de/13911/kpc-jcp-...n-gerupft/

apart from some problems with the atheros LAN (!) and fan control, this might be an excellent and comparably cheap choice for me right now. just plug in the 40GB intel SSD and 2GB RAM. what do you guys think?

edit: today I ordered said foxconn HTPC, will keep you posted over the weekend how it performs with the intel SSD and how noisy it actually is

OpenElec Standalone --> Asus Chromebox 'Panther' --> Onkyo TX-NR709 --> Sharp Aquos LC-46XD1E
Asus Chromebox EZ Script
(This post was last modified: 2010-05-25 18:42 by Hannes The Hun.)
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danbst Offline
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Post: #9
I've had my Zbox (ID11) for a couple of days now.
Must say I'm not too impressed with the noise.
I flashed the beta BIOS thats supposed to quieten it down but IMHO it's still too noisy.
I also run a watercooled AMD with a silent fan cooling the radiator and despite being a beast of a machine is all but inaudible. It's in a full size tower and I wanted to go small to de-clutter my TV in the Lounge.
The Zbox is never going to replace it as it's simply too noisy. I'll probably end up putting it in one of the kids bedrooms.

Not a happy punter.
On a + side it runs Win 7 reasonably well. I'm just about to dual boot it with Live XBMC.
Should be fun.
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poofyhairguy Offline
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Post: #10
Geeba Wrote:Sooooo Poofyhairyguy.... what would you recommend?

A custom built Zotac ION box.

That is what I use, and it rocks!
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Hannes The Hun Offline
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Post: #11
sorry to hear that the zbox is noisy

I'm in the process of installing the foxconn netbox, apart from the problem with the onboard atheros LAN everything went smooth so far

http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread.php?tid=69513

OpenElec Standalone --> Asus Chromebox 'Panther' --> Onkyo TX-NR709 --> Sharp Aquos LC-46XD1E
Asus Chromebox EZ Script
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Geeba Offline
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Post: #12
poofyhairguy Wrote:A custom built Zotac ION box.

That is what I use, and it rocks!

Hmmm but I cant find any decent cases...Sad they're ether cost more than my house or look like they're made out of fag packets and chewing gum.....
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smalla Offline
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Post: #13
Price is not an issue... I just cannot find any good looking cases that are as small as the zotac of the revo for example...

any advice is welcom

thx
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poofyhairguy Offline
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Here is a case that is barely larger than a Mini ITX mobo WITH an external power supply:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.as...-_-Product

I have its big brother (mine has a PCI express expansion slot for better GPUs in the future) and it works great.
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BORIStheBLADE Offline
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Hannes The Hun Wrote:I have my Revo 3600 up and running with XBMCbuntu just fine for months now, but for some reasons I'd rather use the revo now elsewhere as mainly an office PC and go for a new Ion system.

after thinking about building my own Mini-ITX HTPC system for awhile, I've come to the conclusion that neither price nor customization options make that big of a difference, so I started looking again at the complete systems.

besides having been very happy with my revo, the weird form factor and some problems with the fan prevent me from just buying another one. also, replacing internal components is a pain in the arse... the Zotac systems have a much nicer, more ordinary case and I like the overall history and expertise of the manufacturer.


now it's just a decision between the gen1 atom/Ion (MAG) and the pinetrail/Ion2 system (ZBOX). add.: there's also a "Zbox" with gen1 atom that has DDR3 support, I'm referring to the pinetrail Zbox

after some reading, the new pinetrail-Zbox has limited memory bandwidth between the GPU and CPU/RAM compared to the first gen, which -at the moment- results in poor flash acceleration; nvidia might try to fix this. no support for dual channel RAM and only one PCI-E lane for the Ion GPU sucks, even if it is somewhat compensated by the 512MB GPU-only RAM.

HD playback via XBMCbuntu (which is what I'm planning to do nearly 100%) seems just as fine as first gen/MAG, no differences there. at the moment there may be the need for new ALSA drivers, have to check if this would also be the case when using lucid as host OS.
interface-wise both systems should be identical AFAIK. the nice thing about the Zbox is that I can get it completely barebone and install an intel 40GB SSD (which should boost overall performance significantly) while for the MAG I have to pay for a slow HDD inside that I won't be using at all.

guys, what would you do? Frown is *newer* always also *better* ?


Well.... I bought a Zotac mag 330 and brought it back because it was too loud with the fans running.
I don't know how loud you Acer is. I don't know if that matters to you.

I loved the way the box looks, but way too loud and it also ran hot too. So I figured how much hotter can it get if I slow down the fan?

I just wish someone would make a single core ion that is passively cooled.

I found this at Newegg, but didn't pull the trigger yet. It just went out of too.


http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.as...-_-Product
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