ZOTAC is throwing their hat in the gaming PC race with an impressive compact gaming rig. The Hong Kong-based company recently announced that their new ZOTAC GAMING brand will bring with it a new line of gaming PCs – starting with the MEK 1. There are two variants of the hardware – a white version with a seventh generation Intel i5 processor, and a black version with an i7. Both devices measure 414mm x 118mm x 393mm and offer up a sleeker-looking design to the usual bulky and garish gaming rig mold that has been out for the past few years. Both versions will feature Spectra lighting for the default blue, but it can be changed to pink, green, yellow, red, and white. White looks the best of them – and matches the trim far better for the white while acting as a stronger contrast for the black model.
The lower-end white model features an i5 7400 CPU with a 6 GB GTX 1060 GCU alongside 16 GB of DDR4-2400 memory and a 1 TB SATA HDD paired with a 24 GB SSD. The more powerful black unit uses an i7-770 processor with a GTX 1070 Ti graphics card. Both models have six USB 3.0 ports alongside two USB 2.0 ports and use 802.11ac Wi-Fi, which should enable solid wi-fi signal strength from anywhere in the home. Having a compact gaming rig like this does make it tempting to bring it on the go for travel purposes – but you would still have to hope that things like hotel wi-fi are good enough to make use of the powerful wi-fi hardware inside.
The motherboard will be a mini ITX – so it shouldn’t be a power hog, and it features a 450 watt power supply. The specs on these machines are promising – but also not quite future-proof. They are very much devices that will seemingly run just about anything that exists now and do a fantastic job of it – if the system itself is efficient. The use of both an HDD and SSD should allow it to work well over the long haul, but having an HDD in there will make it a bit slower and act as a bottleneck. The 16 GB of memory will also be something that will hold it back over time. One major question that has to be asked is just how easy will it be to swap out parts on these devices?
From the fairly low-resolution image shown on the official site of the device’s internal components being separated, it does look like you can do some work to it. Swapping out the RAM should be easy enough – but one downside to a devie this small is you are naturally going to be held back on your graphics card. Many newer models are absolutely gigantic and seemingly wouldn’t fit inside a small case like this – at least not without modifying the casing, which is being hyped up as part of the reason to buy the PC to begin with. The company has produced mini versions of higher-end graphics cards like the 1080 – so there could be a workaround for that, but the mini versions tend to be pricier than the standard versions. This could be a future hidden cost going with a device of this form factor and is something to consider before buying one.
The MEK 1 does at least come with a full-sized LED-backlit mechanical keyboard alongwith an optical gaming mouse with adjustable DPI settings – so you could easily get a perfectly-matching setup in not only device color, but lighting as well. The included mouse looks compact and fairly comfortable – but it’s hard to tell if it has any kind of rubberized coating on it due to the angle of the photo used. Hopefully it does, and it’s well-crafted so that it can endure a long shelflife. Sure, buying gaming mice isn’t the end-all be-all of purchases, but it’s nice to have the included devices not only match visually – but also be built to last.
The line is hyped up as delivering 4K gaming – which should be the case with all of its specs being used well. Both units will be VR-ready, which is pretty much the standard when it comes to anything made with gaming in mind. That’s one great thing about gaming PCs becoming so mainstream – VR is touted as a huge selling point for them, and with most using off the shelf parts, the key is just finding new ways to case them and make them both more attractive and more affordable. However, one major is that with all of the hype in their press clippings – no release date or pricing information was announced.
One would certainly hope that with so many concrete pieces of information on the official site and physical builds seemingly existing for the photos to be taken, they would be coming out fairly soon. If that was the case though, why wouldn’t release information be given? There isn’t a retailer listing either – meaning that places like Best Buy, Newegg, and Amazon can’t be confirmed as selling it just yet. It could be that ZOTAC is going to just sell it on their site – but doing so would certainly hurt the possible userbase of the MEK 1 line. Being able to go to a major brick and mortor store like Best Buy and get a gaming rig does a world of good for companies to build up brand recognition – and if they’re relying on hardcore PC gamers to sell their wares to, they could very well be barking up the wrong tree. While some do prefer slim form factors over power, many PC-centric players put power above form factor and would prefer to just build something that might be less pretty, but more functional.
Hopefully, the company announces more information on a release window and final pricing soon. Otherwise, the hype they’re attempting to build up could easily be squandered. There’s a lot of competition in the pre-built gaming PC market and having devices that look good, but can’t be experienced any time soon hurts anyone who makes them. The MEK 1 line does show great promise and if they wind up being as efficient in execution as they seem in theory, they could do quite well – especially if they’re in the $800 range for the i5 model and around $1,000 for the i7.