Zotac intros third-gen Zbox with desktop CPU, GeForce GPU, more

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Eager to partake in the madness of CES, Zotac has updated its Zbox mini-PC line with two new systems: a new third-generation design (ID42) and a revamped second-generation offering (ID83). Zotac says the former is the most drastic evolution of the series since its introduction three years ago, packing higher-end hardware to tackle loads that prove too demanding for your typical set-top box-like configurations.

The Zbox ID42 ships with a dual-core Sandy Bridge-based Celeron desktop processor, a GeForce GT 610 GPU with 512MB of DDR3 VRAM (Zotac notes that this chip supports up to two displays), support for up to 16GB of DDR3 1333MHz RAM and room for one 2.5-inch drive (the plain ID42 ships without memory and storage, while a Plus model comes with 4GB of RAM and a 500GB 5400RPM hard drive preinstalled).

To accommodate the desktop CPU and GeForce GPU, Zotac has increased the Zbox's thickness by 7mm and improved its cooling system by tripling its ventilation. Other specs include two gigabit Ethernet ports, 802.11n Wi-Fi with dual antennas, Bluetooth 4.0, HDMI and DVI outputs, two high-amperage USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, analog and digital audio ports, a 4-in-1 card reader and support for Windows 7 and 8.

Meanwhile, the ID83 has similar features, except it's powered by a Core i3-3120M and an IGP, has four USB 2.0 ports, one gigabit Ethernet jack, one antenna and it lacks the ID42's updated chassis and cooling system (some folks have criticized the noise of the second-generation Zbox and the third-generation is supposedly quieter, so this may or may not be important to you). No word on pricing or availability.

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