Zotac Zbox ID42 Plus - Interior and Connectivity
The removal of two thumbscrews grants you quick and easy access to the internals of the ID42 Plus. This reveals black cooler for the CPU and GPU chips, and next to this is the included 500GB hard drive, which can also be easily removed with a single thumbscrew. Doing so grants you access to the system's memory slots, one of which is already filled with a single 4GB stick of RAM.
The included 500GB hard drive is a Toshiba 5,400RPM model. A 7,200RPM model would have been a nicer sight to behold, but there's obviously a need with such a system to keep costs down to a minimum. You could in theory upgrade the ID42 Plus with a silent and super fast modern SSD and take full advantage of the speed permitted by the system's SATA 6Gbps interface.
Click to enlarge - The hard drive and memory are simple to access and upgrade
Dual channel memory would also have been preferable to the single 4GB stick that Zotac provides, but at least the bundled memory runs at 1,333MHz, the fastest supported by the system's CPU. A quick bit of research reveals that Zotac's £50 price premium for the hard drive and memory included with the ID42 Plus is well in line with market prices, but the barebones ID42 gives users the option to put in their own configurations.
As you'd expect, the CPU and GPU are both soldered to the motherboard, and thus won't be able to be upgraded. A single heatsink draws heat away from the pair of chips, and is cooled by a small fan. Air is drawn in from the underside of the chassis (when it's resting horizontally), and then exhausted through the ventilated side.
The included CPU itself is an Intel Mobile Celeron 847 dual core chip, which runs at 1.1GHz. Although this 32nm based CPU is constructed on the Sandy Bridge architecture, it's only an entry level CPU and as such lacks features such as Hyper-Threading. Its main appeal comes from its ultra low power consumption, as it has a rated Thermal Design Power of just 17W.
Click to enlarge - The Zbox ID42 Plus is well equipped with video, audio and USB connections
While the Celeron 847 does feature an onboard HD-capable GPU, it's not suited for rendering intensive HD footage. Thankfully, Zotac provides a discrete GPU to make up for this, in the form of Nvidia's GeForce GT 610. Although part of the 600 series of Nvidia GPUs by name, this 40nm based chip is actually built on the older Fermi architecture, and is really just a rebadged GT 520. It has access to just 512MB of DDR3 memory via a 64-bit memory interface and has a total memory bandwidth of 14.4GB/s. It's hardly a graphics powerhouse, therefore, but it will still provide a significant step up in multimedia performance compared to that of the CPU.
Connectivity is naturally very important in a HTPC, and in this regard the ID42 Plus is well equipped for its size. With HDMI and DVI ports, it supports up to two displays. Meanwhile, 7.1 channel digital audio can be supplied via the single S/PDIF connection, and there's also analog stereo audio input and output front panel ports. Front and side USB 3 ports accompany two rear USB 2 ports and a pair of Gigabit Ethernet ports, and the front mounted 4-in-1 card reader is an added bonus. Finally, the power button is touch sensitive but there's no reset one.