Zotac showed off their new line of products in style at CES 2012 in Las Vegas. From top of the line video cards to an exciting new line of MiniPCs that are sure to propel them to the envy of the industry, Zotac made a pretty significant splash during the electronic tradeshow. During an extensive booth visit, we were able to talk tech with Hansel von Muller about all the great things coming in 2012.
GI: Sean Gibson of Gaming Illustrated and I’m here at the Zotac booth at CES 2012. I’m with Hansel von Muller. Can you talk about what you do at Zotac?
HVM: Sure. I’m the Tech Support Lead. I’m here in a sense as a Product Manager since I’m actually going to be explaining to you all of the products that we have available. We’ve got mini PCs, we’ve got motherboards, we’ve got high-end graphics cards.
GI: We’re looking here at some of the small form factor MiniPCs and the motherboards. One of the things that I’ve noticed here at CES is that gamers are getting into the small form factor PCs for their home theater system perhaps or just for something to take to their LAN party. It looks like you’re really going to be leveraging that momentum in the industry.
HVM: Exactly. We have our H67 motherboards as well as our Z68 enthusiasts motherboards where you can let’s say overclock the CPU. We’re coming with up to 16 GB of memory and PCI Express 2.0. So you basically can have an overclocked IS7 2600K to like 5 GHz if you like. As well we have the AMD variants, the A75 chipset wearing the latest FM1 socket. And for let’s say the home theater, the latest product available is our Fusion 350 BU. It has an HDMI display port, DVI; and for the power supply it’s actually going be an A/C power adaptor so you actually don’t have to purchase your own power supply.
GI: Very cool. Yeah, it’s just amazing that even the integrated graphics nowadays are pretty good.
HVM: I completely agree. The Fusion, AMD’s APU – the CPU and graphics card basically on one chip – can perform and play Blu-Ray movies with no problem, and it’s also good for casual gaming as well.
GI: You and I are both StarCraft II players. If I wanted to just all of a sudden play StarCraft II on my 1080p system, I mean that’s not a super high-resolution to be honest – 1920×1080. Is this thing going to handle it pretty well?
HVM: I would recommend low settings if you want the most fluid gameplay. I believe the Fusion, it may be a little slower let’s say, even at the lowest settings where playable frame rates I’m going to say is 30 frames, all low-detail 1080p. But you’ll be able to play the campaign. You might not have all the eye candy but you’ll be able to play it smoothly.
GI: I think that’s pretty cool. I mean, we’re looking at a motherboard that’s the size of my hand with integrated graphics. The bar is pretty low so the fact that I can do that much is pretty cool.
HVM: I understand in previous generations they didn’t have anywhere near the graphics to play even older games, let’s say Counter-Strike 1.6 for example. Integrating graphics from Intel in there really cut out. Now with this integrated solution you can play Counter-Strike: Source, so the Source games maxed out without any problems.
GI: Very cool. Let’s move on to the GeForce line of video cards here for the PC. I’m seeing the mid-range GTX cards. What else do we have?
HVM: We have something that’s probably a little bit different. We have the Multiview series. It’s basically the 550 Ti and the GTX 560 Ti Multiview. Showcased here is our 550 Ti. Basically you can actually run up to three monitors; as long as you connect the two DVIs along with a display port or DVI and you can have a spanned image over three monitors at once from one card.
GI: Very nice. Now can you talk about this? It’s a gorgeous looking design honestly but in terms of function, what are we looking at cooling here?
HVM: Cooling is going to be close to the basic from the reference design as well as a little bit different on our side where we can actually manufacture the cards ourselves since we have a factory over in Hong Kong. It’s going to be pushing air inside and out in this case. I understand some people may not like having it blowing inside the case which is strange in let’s say the 460 and the 560 series. People would want everything shooting out of the case.
But it’s actually been doing really, really well and I actually haven’t heard of many overheating issues except for let’s say dual 575 SLi-Ready, and that’s really the only time we actually get some complaints. Other than that it runs almost flawlessly on our side here with the latest drivers, and with older drivers it works pretty well in my opinion.
GI: Now over your left shoulder here I’m seeing something really bizarre. It looks like a computer filled with water. What are we showing up here with ZOTAC?
HVM: One of our guys here, Zach, he can actually explain more. It’s weird because we’re using this Novec 7000 liquid made by 3M. You can tell already it’s already cooling the whole system. It’s nonconductive. You can see the boiling temperature is actually much lower going around, I believe 30C to 40C for the boiling temperature so that’s why you see the bubbles coming out of the CPU, and some of the portions of the motherboard as well as the graphics card and GPU.
It’s completely submerged and it’s cooling the system. The graphics card I believe is a 560 Ti and it’s only running around 50C. We’re running three instances of [FirmRock] and two instances of Prime95. The CPU does not even have any kind of cooling on it. It’s just bare and it’s running at 70C. It lacks the settings on the 2600K but being that it is only submerged and there’s no cooling pace as well as the heat synch I believe it’s actually running really well.
GI: It looks pretty cool. So we also have the small PCs right behind me here.
HVM: Sure. This one’s going to be more of our mainstream line right here. We have the ZBOX line, ZBOX ID81 AD04. We have different flavors of them. For the mainstream ones we have Intel- and AMD-based ones. This one here, the ID80 is going to run the Atom D525 1.8 GHz Dual-Core as well as NVIDIA next-generation ION. Just to let you know, all of our mainstream minis will be able to run HDMI without any problem. Every single one will have HDMI-out. Something a little different about let’s say our AD04, it’s going to be latest AMD APU, the E-450 with a 1.66 GHz Dual-Core as well as the AMD Radeon HD 6320. It can also play Blu-Ray just fine.
We have our Nano and our Giga series, which are our latest ones. Here we have our AD10. It’s actually a much smaller design than our mainstream mini PCs. It’s also going to be running the AMD variant but we’ll be running the AMD E350 1.6 GHz with the 6310. It’s going to be running a little bit slower than the AD04 which will be out on the market soon but when it comes to again running Blu-Ray, not a problem at all. It has an IR receiver; that’s a USB remote for a media center dongle; audio in the front, power in the front; a display port, HDMI-out as well as USB3, a 2GB Ethernet E7 as well as a Wi-Fi antenna that comes with the product itself.
GI: It’s pretty cool.
HVM: Yeah. The latest addition is going to be our Giga model. It’s going to be called the ZBOX Giga ID70 Plus running an Intel Core i3 2100T, basically like the i3 2100 with the laptop processor version; the GeForce GT430. It has a Blu-Ray optical drive as well. It comes with a USB dongle for IR for the media center remote. It has 4 GB of memory and plenty of storage as well as a display port, HDMI-out, DVI-out – you name it. And this thing can pump out anything you wanted for a media center, for home office use. It’s really our general all-purpose machine right now.
GI: Yeah, that’s very impressive to have those kind of hardware specs in what you would traditionally figure would just be your home theater PC and you wouldn’t expect much performance out of it. I mean that’s a decent system.
HVM: I completely agree. It may be the heaviest machine we have available but it’s going to be the most powerful ZBOX we have available right now.
GI: Well, I know you have a lot of dedicated users out there, PC gamer enthusiasts that are big fans of ZOTAC. Any words back to them, to your fans?
HVM: Yeah, sure. You can always expect the highest performance from our video cards – low-end, high-end, mid-range, the casual to the heavy gamer. We have our ZOTAC Cup where we have the tournaments going on every month, almost every week and there’s cash prizes and whatnot. And you can always take a look at that on our website.
GI: Alright, great. Thanks so much.
HVM: Thanks for having us.
Gaming Illustrated would like to thank Hansel von Muller, the Zotac PR team and the rest of the Zotac staff for being so accommodating for this interview. Stay tuned to our site for more information and upcoming looks at Zotac products.