Something to look forward to: The CI600-series presents itself as one of the most powerful UCFF (ultra-compact form factor) PCs out there. And passively cooled, to boot. Zotac has made a name for itself by shrinking technology into small enclosures, and apart from Intel's NUC, it is one of a few brands actively promoting compact, powerful desktop solutions.
Zotac, a manufacturer best known for making tiny PC hardware, has announced availability of its CI600-series Nano PCs. The PCs boast new aesthetics but more importantly, like previous C-series Nano PCs, the CI600 family is entirely passive and can handle CPUs up to 25W.
Initially teased at Computex 2018, Zotac is now launching the new family with three main models: the CI660, CI640 and CI620, and a like number of ‘Plus’ models which already include RAM and storage.
The CI660, CI640 and CI620 come equipped with, respectively, Core i7-8550U, Core i5-8250U and Core i3-8130U CPUs. They all feature HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort 1.2 (dual display ready) with integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620. There is no expansion option for an eGPU as Zotac did not include Thunderbolt 3 I/O.
While the C-Series Nano PCs have been around for a while, Zotac has done a complete redesign of the chassis and aesthetics. It departs from the old NUC-style aesthetic common to the company’s ZBOX designs. What’s more, since it’s packing 8th generation Intel Core CPUs, they’ve had to make some hard engineering choices to keep the CPUs cool. In order to achieve this, Zotac says it improved cooling efficiency by 66% when compared to its previous-generation C-Series. This has allowed it to jam a four-core eight-thread Core i7-8550U under the hood, and make it utterly noiseless. Zotac claims this is a 20% performance gain over its previous generation Nano PCs.
The Core i7-8550U is fairly unique in that it has a very low TDP due to its low base clock (1.8 GHz), but it can boost its way up to 3.7 GHz on all cores (or 4.0 GHz on two cores), making it a powerful desktop computer.
To keep things chilled on the inside, Zotac used solid block aluminum heat spreaders and designed every face of the device, except the front, with honeycomb-shaped venting to generate the airflow it needed to keep temperatures in check. If you consider that Zotac also kept the chassis tiny (1.76 liter), it can’t have been easy. Measuring 8.03in x 5.08in x 2.68in (204x129x68mm) it also features an add-on VESA mount, meaning you can hook it up to the back of any VESA-capable screen… or lay it down on a desk, so long as you don’t block the air vents.
The new series also allows for some easy customization options with tool-free access to two SO-DIMM slots and a single 2.5-inch bay (sorry, no M.2). The CI600-series also sport dual gigabit ethernet, 2x USB 3.1 type-C connectors, 5x USB 3.0 and an external antenna to enable wireless 802.11ac communications. The devices also include onboard Bluetooth 4.2. No pricing was announced.