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Linux-Friendly Mini PC Fast Enough For Steam Games

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the tiny-penguins-with-hats dept.

Ubuntu 93

crookedvulture writes "Barebones mini PCs have been around for a while, and the latest one from Zotac is pretty unique. For $270, the Zbox ID42 offers a Sandy Bridge CPU, a discrete GeForce graphics processor, and all the integrated I/O and networking you'd expect from a modern PC. You have to add your own memory, hard drive, and operating system, but the latter shouldn't cost you a dime. The Zbox works well with not only Windows, but also Linux. Ubuntu even recognizes the included remote, which can be used to wake up the system, control XBMC, and navigate Steam's Big Picture interface. Team Fortress 2 for Linux is actually playable, albeit at a relatively low resolution and detail level. The hardware seems better suited to casual games. Zotac also makes a Plus version of the Zbox that comes bundled with RAM and a hard drive, but it costs an extra $130, and you can get much better components if you add them yourself. The user-friendly chassis makes filling out the system a trivial undertaking."

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What a dumb slashvertsement (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42814713)

I have a Zbox, Ubuntu runs like shit on it. XMBC froze and crashed so much I ended up paying for a windows license to make the thing usable.

But whatever, if "company makes a low end computer, and computers can run games" is news, then here's a mindblowing shocker: games also work on laptops and tablets.

Re:What a dumb slashvertsement (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42814905)

Your problem is Ubuntu, not the hardware. I also have a Zotax box, and all distros I've tried except Ubuntu work great. Ubuntu works like crap unless you remove the stupid desktop texturing and Unity.

Re:What a dumb slashvertsement (2, Informative)

jedidiah (1196) | about a year and a half ago | (#42817349)

His problem isn't even Ubuntu. His problem is that he's a poser troll. I have various ION boxes and they all run Ubuntu just fine.

Ubuntu nonsense isn't going to be any worse than the recent desktop nonsense from Microsoft or Apple.

Re:What a dumb slashvertsement (1)

bWareiWare.co.uk (660144) | about a year and a half ago | (#42818691)

Way to set really low goals.

Re:What a dumb slashvertsement (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42822951)

I read over and over Ubuntu bad I have been using Kubuntu for years and really like no matter what I put it on.
KDE sense version 2

Re:What a dumb slashvertsement (2)

aXis100 (690904) | about a year and a half ago | (#42815653)

I have a ZBox, and both XBMC Live (ubuntu) and XBMC OpenELEC both worked great and very stable.

Re:What a dumb slashvertsement (3, Informative)

emaname (1014225) | about a year and a half ago | (#42816385)

I have to echo what the others have said re Ubuntu. Every experience I've had with it has been a disappointment. I've installed it on 4 different systems and always had trouble with something. The most dramatic experience was when I installed it on a Dell Inspiron 1501 AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual-Core with 2GB RAM (admittedly that CPU is weak re cache). After I installed the 64-bit version of Ubuntu, I almost tore the laptop open to see if there really was a dual core 64-bit processor inside because it ran like a 486. Needless to say, I dumped it and installed sidux instead (sidux reorganized as aptosid and then forked to siduction, if memory serves). I used the laptop reliably and extensively for just over two years with sidux and finally aptosid.

Even one of the more popular and respected Linux columnists did a write-up re the disappointments in trying to use Ubuntu. We both had sent comments to their community, but never received any responses.

That was 3 years ago. I would have expected that since then things might have improved. As a matter of fact, I just reconfigured an old P4 box for my niece. And the distro I installed on it was Xubuntu. I had tried several. (I typically have several liveCD distros laying around to do installs.) And to my great relief, Xubuntu worked quite well. Now she's happily using her reconfigured P4 (while her husband and his family members have all been hit by a virus on their Windows machines) Sorry. That last bit is a cheap shot.

So long story short, I have no doubt installing a distro other than Ubuntu would result in better performance. Once more, the availability of choice is shown to be a benefit.

Re:What a dumb slashvertsement (1)

mister_playboy (1474163) | about a year and a half ago | (#42818327)

As a matter of fact, I just reconfigured an old P4 box for my niece. And the distro I installed on it was Xubuntu.>

Just as an aside, I'd recommend Lubuntu for most P4s, especially those with less than 768MB. Xubuntu these days isn't so much a light version of mainline Ubuntu as an alternate full version (like Kubuntu is ).

Re:What a dumb slashvertsement (1)

emaname (1014225) | about a year and a half ago | (#42844397)

Intersting you should suggest that. I started with Lubuntu (mostly because I'm interested in trying LXDE more, not because of any noteworthy insight), but decided to go with xfce. My niece had been using a 3- or 4-year-old version of PCLinuxOS I had installed for her. The drive I used originally was too small for her purposes. She takes LOTS of pictures. So that's what prompted the upgrade.

This is another example of how Linux holds up well in terms of being user-friendly, stable, and secure. Just saying. Please. No flames.

I've also used Windows (without any AV software) for long periods of time without incident, but that's because I'm very careful about where I surf and never click on attachments from sources I don't recognize. I also did not use IE except to test my web pages and never used Outlook (I used T-Bird).

Anyhow, to get to the point, xfce seemed like it would be a little more familiar to her as a DE in comparison to KDE. Just a judgment call on my part. YMMV.

Re:What a dumb slashvertsement (2)

flyingfsck (986395) | about a year and a half ago | (#42817913)

Ubuntu with Unity is the new EMACS. It makes any computer slow.

That is not news. You can use Xubuntu/Fedora/Suse/Mageia/PCLinusOS or any number of alternatives and they will all work fine.

Re:What a dumb slashvertsement (1)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | about a year and a half ago | (#42822479)

Ubuntu with Unity is the new EMACS. It makes any computer slow.

That is not news. You can use Xubuntu/Fedora/Suse/Mageia/PCLinusOS or any number of alternatives and they will all work fine.

You could also skip the hassle and go with Slackware. It works well on both high end and outdated hardware.

Re:What a dumb slashvertsement (1)

Spugglefink (1041680) | about a year and a half ago | (#42830455)

here's a mindblowing shocker: games also work on laptops and tablets.

They do? I've tried playing a few games over all the computers in my house over the years, and have yet to find one that can run any Linux game acceptably. My current box is a quad core 3 GHz jobbie but it still can't play Tuxkart worth a damn because the 3D thingie sucks. Who cares. Games are for twelve year olds anyway. Now get off my lawn!

Slashvertisment 101 (4, Insightful)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about a year and a half ago | (#42814721)

Mention Linux and its bound to make it to the front page.

Re:Slashvertisment 101 (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42815037)

Heh... Yeah. I can't imagine why they'd have even thought this was newsworthy. The Zbox is a really low-spec machine that shouldn't be able to handle anything but the casual and mid-end indie lineup that's forming right now in Valve's catalog for Linux.

Re:Slashvertisment 101 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42815961)

Mention Linux and its bound to make it to the front page.

Thats how slashdot gets hits. It will endlessly front page any hot topic of the moment in order to get people coming to comment on it like mindless zealots.

Right now even mentioning the word "patent" and "linux" right now bring out the same old people spewing the same old phrases.

Re:Slashvertisment 101 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42817377)

MPAA and RIA shit doesnt change much, same as Apple and Microsoft.

Re:Slashvertisment 101 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42817937)

He would be a lot better off buying a cheaper and faster box based on an AMD apu. Even the slowest smokes intels latest graphics.

Re:Slashvertisment 101 (2)

couchslug (175151) | about a year and a half ago | (#42819431)

Naturally. Slashdot has been trending this way for years.

There should be a moderation category added to downmod POSTED stories, a retroactive Firehose, so users can kill off this shit.

Re:Slashvertisment 101 (1)

TriezGamer (861238) | about a year and a half ago | (#42828213)

Because that could NEVER be abused ...

Zbox just as good as Zbox (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42814725)

In fact, is better! Is two more than Xbox!

Re:Zbox just as good as Zbox (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42814819)

It is, in fact, C000 more than Xbox!

Looks nice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42814773)

I like the look of this. Would make a nice beefy HTPC.

Re:Looks nice (1)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | about a year and a half ago | (#42822541)

I like the look of this. Would make a nice beefy HTPC.

I don't think I'd call the specs "beefy". It seems to have an older version intel cpu since the current ones have integrated graphics. Also, the cpu speed is really slow at 1.1Ghz (slower than many cell phones now days). You could probably get a beefier HTPC by just using a regular cheap walmart computer. You could also just get an old cell phone with hdmi out and do most of what this thing does with a smaller footprint.

It can almost run TF2. (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42814785)

We have a console killer on our hands.

Re:It can almost run TF2. (1)

cod3r_ (2031620) | about a year and a half ago | (#42820777)

HAHA! I found this hilarious. Would mod you funny if i had mod points.

"actually playable" (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42814787)

"albeit at a relatively low resolution and detail level." ... So it doesn't do it well at all, and it will do it worse in the entire future you own the box. Woot, awesome deal dude! Totally worth posting on Slashdot!

Re:"actually playable" (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year and a half ago | (#42817683)

also.. 270+130 isn't actually cheap.

Re:"actually playable" (3, Interesting)

ntropia (939502) | about a year and a half ago | (#42817973)

I still feel a bit of sore, so I'll chip in the discussion.
Few months ago I read several good reviews about the Zboxes as HTPC, so I bought one, together with 4Gb of RAM and a 160Gb SSD. The GPU was a ION and no, there were no chances to have a decent XBMC experience nor playing 720i videos (1080p? don't even think about it) without having very unpleasant "hiccups" here and there in the playback. Forget about any online streaming with more than 360p resolution (average YouTube videos were enough to put the thing on its knees). No, desktop effects were not on the way (i.e. barebone XFCE). It shouldn't have been a surprise, since it was sporting a crappy Atom D525 processor 1.8GHz, and I blame myself for having bought the positive reviews despite the terrible hardware specs.
After two frustrating weeks of tweaking trying to squeeze more juice out of it (Xorg.conf, VDPAU, Nvidia drivers...), I've sent it back and with pretty much the same amount of money, I've tried one of the cheap solutions I've found on the XBCM forum [xbmc.org] .
I got a i3@3.1GHz machine that's able to run smoothly Black Mesa, SteelStorm and TF2.
The box slashvertized here has a Celeron 847 instead of the Atom, but CPU performances are equally poor [cpubenchmark.net] , so don't even think about games (or at least nothing more complex than Gchess).

The rather trivial moral of the story is that if you want a powerful machine you should buy one, and not waste your time with toy computers.
Be wise with your money and never look back.

Re:"actually playable" (1)

ntropia (939502) | about a year and a half ago | (#42817985)

I got a i3@3.1GHz machine that's able to run smoothly Black Mesa, SteelStorm and TF2.

I forgot to mention an interesting aspect: I have enough spare power to watch Netflix using XP in a VirtualBox machine

Re:"actually playable" (1)

Alarash (746254) | about a year and a half ago | (#42857745)

Uh, the ION does hardware MPEG decoding, it's just not possible that you had "hiccups" in that configuration. Something was wrong. I have a ION-based HTPC, under Ubuntu as well, and I can play 1080i videos and DTS audio (that's more than 20 Mbps of data) with absolutely no problem. My Raspberry can do the same for the same reason, although the rest of XBMC is kind of slow because there's no acceleration there.

Re:"actually playable" (1)

LoRdTAW (99712) | about a year and a half ago | (#42819301)

For $400 I can put together a pretty powerful AMD A10 system that will run circles around the Zbox. I just priced it out on NE and here is what I got:

Motherboard: ASRock FM2A85X-ITX FM2 AMD A85X - $100
CPU: AMD A10-5700 Trinity 3.4GHz Quadcore 4GHz 65W - $128
RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3 1866 - $54
HDD: Western Digital WD Blue WD5000AAKX 500GB - $65
Case: Rosewill RS-MI-01 BK Mini ITX Tower with 250W Power Supply - $47

TOTAL: $395

There ya go, a very capable PC that costs the same as the Zbox AND is built with standard parts. If the Zbox dies then guess what? You junk the whole thing save for the RAM and HDD. Sure the ITX system will be bigger but its still quite small compared to a desktop tower. Mine lacks an SD card slot, remote, second GBE port, Bluetooth and WiFi. But those can be added on for cheap, USB wifi ~$20, HTPC Remote ~$20, USB Bluetooth ~$15. And they aren't all that necessary depending on what you need. I would only need to add the Remote, the other features are useless for me.

Nothing to see here (4, Insightful)

Master Moose (1243274) | about a year and a half ago | (#42814833)

In other news, 50cc Motor Scooters are able to travel on they same roads as other vehicles. They may not go as fast as other behicles but can still get you fron point a to point b

Re:Nothing to see here (0)

DFurno2003 (739807) | about a year and a half ago | (#42814873)

shittiest car analogy ever

Re:Nothing to see here (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42814941)

Agreed, that analogy was just plain bad.

Re:Nothing to see here (1)

Master Moose (1243274) | about a year and a half ago | (#42815171)

If you want, I am sure I can make worse. . Although I think it is just safer for everyone reading this that I just shut up now

Re:Nothing to see here (4, Informative)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year and a half ago | (#42815873)

In other news, 50cc Motor Scooters are able to travel on they same roads as other vehicles. They may not go as fast as other behicles but can still get you fron point a to point b

This would be an accurate analogy if you said the 50cc Motor Scooter's only cost a tiny bit less than a full sized 8 cylinder automobile.

I built a starter / mid range machine (3.8 GHz quad core machine w/ 8GB of RAM and Radeon 7660 D) for my little brother to play Steam & indie games on, that can also play Battlefield 3 & Planetside (low/med settings) for less than $500 including shipping and handling, and an oversized PSU, heat sink, blue LED case fans (kids these days), and mobo to support X-fire / SLI (for future upgradeability). Their mini computer is $130 + $270 = $500, and can barely run steam games. Bleh, that's nasty.

For another $80 or so my bro can add a Radeon 6770 to the current build and run dual graphics w/ the 7660, and about double the graphics power. Also, it's now overclocked to 4.2 Ghz since the big cheap air cooled heat sink is working so damn good it barely gets over 100 F. This brand new rig dual boots Win7 & GNU/Linux Mint just fine, even has surround sound in Linux -- Checked for support of the chipsets on MOBO beforehand. Don't buy pre-built unless you're going mobile. This shit's so easy to assemble 12 year old enjoyed doing it himself, just taught him to RTFM first.

Re:Nothing to see here (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year and a half ago | (#42815925)

$_ =~ s/6770/6670/;

Re:Nothing to see here (2)

gubon13 (2695335) | about a year and a half ago | (#42817705)

Their mini computer is $130 + $270 = $500, and can barely run steam games.

The maths is hard. $130 + $270 != $500.

Re:Nothing to see here (2)

barc0001 (173002) | about a year and a half ago | (#42817857)

And how big and loud is your machine compared to this one? Is your machine heat efficient enough to have its cpu fan turn completely off at idle like this one? Is it the size of a standard tower? The point of this machine is in no small part that it can play 1080p video, be quiet while doing it and fit in an entertainment unit is the same type of space that a video game console or DVD player would. Just like a laptop or a rackmount server, part of that cost is from condensing the form factor.

Re:Nothing to see here (1)

Chryana (708485) | about a year and a half ago | (#42818213)

The computer suggested by the GP may be big and loud, but it does at least one thing well, which is to play games. I can get a PS3 with two or three games [bestbuy.com] for 100$ less than the price of this thing with a hard drive. Furthermore, the summary states that it struggles to run a game which is so old it is being now being given away for free. Basically, it does nothing well.

Re:Nothing to see here (1)

Sudline (1552111) | about a year and a half ago | (#42817939)

"Their mini computer is $130 + $270 = $500, and can barely run steam games. Bleh, that's nasty. " This remind me of a an article title: "40 % of Americans, a majority, are bad at maths"...

'Fast enough for steam games' (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42814835)

Well, sort of.

"Team Fortress 2 for Linux is actually playable, albeit at a relatively low resolution and detail level. The hardware seems better suited to casual games"

For myself and all the Steam users that I know personally, this wouldn't actually be fast enough for any of the games they play.

Re:'Fast enough for steam games' (3, Insightful)

Rockoon (1252108) | about a year and a half ago | (#42815023)

For myself and all the Steam users that I know personally, this wouldn't actually be fast enough for any of the games they play.

Indeed. The TF2 rendering engine is from 2004. Some will say that its received updates since then, but that just makes it a DX8-level (fixed function pipeline) engine with some sugar coating.

If TF2 is running poorly on this hardware, then its bad gaming hardware. If you want to build a cheap gaming box using integrated graphics then an AMD A-series processor in the ~$100 range, with an FM2 motherboard in the ~$60 range is probably the best choice.

Re:'Fast enough for steam games' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42815627)

For myself and all the Steam users that I know personally, this wouldn't actually be fast enough for any of the games they play.

Indeed. The TF2 rendering engine is from 2004. Some will say that its received updates since then, but that just makes it a DX8-level (fixed function pipeline) engine with some sugar coating.

If TF2 is running poorly on this hardware, then its bad gaming hardware. If you want to build a cheap gaming box using integrated graphics then an AMD A-series processor in the ~$100 range, with an FM2 motherboard in the ~$60 range is probably the best choice.

Indeed. I was able to help my friend build one for about $230( minus the hard drive and plus the 2133 ram I scored for $30.
It screams at all the games he plays as long as he remembers the limitations on AA, textures, etc.

So yeah in conclusion, screw this article and the thieves peddling this trash.

Sounds like... (5, Funny)

mystikkman (1487801) | about a year and a half ago | (#42814891)

Sounds like ZBox is short for Zune Box.

Linux Games? (1)

Tomsk70 (984457) | about a year and a half ago | (#42814913)

Wow, that's a whole load of top selling games....oh, no it's not

Re:Linux Games? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42815027)

Considering that they're offering the Valve pack for $99, there's a few top-sellers in there already with more being worked on (Along with a host of Indie titles, some of which I'm working on finalizing their Steam support on...)- and we won't get into that they're encouraging the studios to consider Linux (since the Valve Box IS basically a Linux based Console...) as a target as well. As for getting the titles there...it varies, but in the large it's not even remotely as hard as some would have you think it.

News summary: Linux works on standard x86 hardware (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42814955)

Shocking news indeed.

Flawed review (4, Informative)

Guspaz (556486) | about a year and a half ago | (#42814977)

One quote in particular stands out, and a lot of assumptions in the article are predicated on it:

The GT 610 should still be quicker than plain-old Intel integrated graphics, however.

Anandtech's benchmarks show that the Intel HD4000 in a desktop IvyBridge processor are 50 to 75% faster than a GeForce GT 610 (or more specifically, the GT 520 that was renamed the GT 610). In fact, the HD4000 is very nearly as fast as what was renamed the GT 630 in many benchmarks. The mobile version of this iGPU is not much slower, although the ULV mobile version of it is probably roughly on par to the GT 610.

Of course, the Celeron 847 was a Sandy Bridge part, not an Ivy Bridge part, and the Celeron 847 didn't even ship with a full fledged Sandy Bridge generation iGPU, so the GT 610 is likely still faster than the 847's iGPU. But this should give you an idea about how silly the "fast enough for Steam games" statement is. We're talking about a machine with a GPU that is at best two thirds the performance of a modern Intel iGPU.

Re:Flawed review (2)

Rockoon (1252108) | about a year and a half ago | (#42815609)

To open some eyes, the PassMark G3D scores for various parts are:

Intel HD 3000 - 318
NVidia GT 610 - 340
Intel HD 4000 - 470
NVidia 8800GT - 759 (a card many slashdotters should be familiar with due to its extreme price/performance dominance upon release in 2007)
NVidia GTX 650 - 1799 (a current low TDP desktop card, currently ~$110 on NewEgg)
Radeon HD 7770 - 2112 (a current low TDP desktop card, currently ~$120 on NewEgg)

Re:Flawed review (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | about a year and a half ago | (#42815667)

oh, I meant to include a current AMD integrated GPU such as found in their inexpensive A-series APU processors:

Radeon HD 6550D - 683

Re:Flawed review (1)

rwa2 (4391) | about a year and a half ago | (#42817215)

Yeah, I think the real comparison should be with the ION nettops, which come in a similar form factor.

Intel Atom D525 @ 1.80GHz - 728
Intel Celeron 847E @ 1.10GHz - 1,1136

nVidia ION GPU - 104
nVidia GT 610 - 340

So it's certainly an incremental improvement in that respect.
I'd like to see power consumption numbers. The ION doesn't need a fan.

I'm still pretty happy with my ION Linux server, though. It's in one of the bigger shoeboxes so I can fit a DVD burner and an SSD in addition to a 1TB HDD. It also has an e-SATA port, which this ZBox doesn't. But I haven't found any cheap external eSATA HD enclosures to replace the NexStar one that failed after a few years.

As for gaming, it makes a pretty good minecraft server. And the client is playable too, but just barely.

So it sucks for games (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42815019)

Good to know it can run games from Steam in a completely unsatisfactory way.

Re:So it sucks for games (1)

SilverJets (131916) | about a year and a half ago | (#42815733)

Good to know it can run games from Steam in a completely unsatisfactory way.

It can't even run a 5 year old game that uses a 8-9 year old graphics engine.

Oh look, crappy hardware struggles to run old games. WTF was the point of this review?

Re:So it sucks for games (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about a year and a half ago | (#42817387)

Crappy old hardware actually does rather well with Steam.

Not everyone confuses their genatalia with the graphics card in their PC.

Re:So it sucks for games (1)

Blaskowicz (634489) | about a year and a half ago | (#42816967)

Of course it sucks for games, the CPU is way too much underclocked. But this is an affordable tiny, low watts PC with supported graphics (good linux drivers, will still work on Ubuntu 16.04) and at least it can run TF2 at all. My PC is more powerful, bigger, has less RAM (stuck on ddr2 with two working slots) and can't run TF2 due to my graphics card being too old.

With that Zbox though you will be stuck running old games or maybe cross plaftorm indie games that also appear on Android.. At least Counterstrike 1.6 was semi-officially released on Steam very recently.
If you think it sucks, don't buy it, you just need something bigger and with more watts - though an Intel i3 at 1.8GHz (same chip) could have been put in there, only the PC would be about $100 more expensive because Intel sells that at a premium.

smoothfirewall (1)

Outthere057 (566345) | about a year and a half ago | (#42815159)

I use to use smooth firewall on an old computer nut kept getting bottlenecks because it wasn't new enough to have gigabit port this has two so it might work nice for a smooth firewall installation and is small enough to hide in the closet with my modem and switch

Re:smoothfirewall (3, Interesting)

kenh (9056) | about a year and a half ago | (#42815563)

This is really a $300-400 problem? You could do much better with a Foxconn barebones ($130), [newegg.com] 4 Gig of DDR3 RAM ($25) [newegg.com] and a $30 add-in gigabit card [newegg.com] and a hard drive ($50) [newegg.com] - all in for about $235.

Of course, this is an atom-based system, but you won't be paying a premium for a discrete graphics feature you won't use.

Re:smoothfirewall (1)

Outthere057 (566345) | about a year and a half ago | (#42816477)

thanks alot that is something i'll have to look in to when i decide to go that route again.

Re:smoothfirewall (1)

kjhambrick (111698) | about a year and a half ago | (#42823129)

And this is why... (2)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about a year and a half ago | (#42815237)

And this is why consoles are still around. No need to worry about if X will run well on it, simply pop in the disk and play. No worrying about if the fact that something can run on it if that means that it will run lag-free or not. No messing through settings for an hour trying to get the best performance.

Much easier to just buy a $300 console which for sure will last 8 years+ of perfect gaming (EVERY title released for your system will work at 100% the developer's intended speed) than to buy a gaming PC that you've got no clue if anything will really run on there and what "run" really means.

Re:And this is why... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42815423)

(EVERY title released for your system will work at 100% the developer's intended speed)

Phantasy Star Online used to lag like a bitch if you got a few techers going nuts. Then again, it was Sega, so frame loss might've been their intention. :p

I admit, I'm picking nits - but you aren't guaranteed that 'every' title will work at 100% of the dev's intended speed.

Re:And this is why... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42815471)

And this is why consoles are still around. No need to hope that X will look good on it, simply pop in the disk and suck it up. (...) No messing through settings for an hour trying to get greatly improved graphics.

Much easier to just "buy" a $300 console which for sure will last 8 years+ of stagnant gaming (EVERY title released for your system will be 100% on the console release date's level) than to buy a gaming PC where you've got to read system requirements.

Re:And this is why... (1)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | about a year and a half ago | (#42815709)

The only reason your games still run perfectly on that old 360 and PS3 is because the console versions have shitty graphics. If the PC version was only available up to the resolution of 720p, there would be riots. Most NEW games for the 360 and PS3 only go up to 720p, 1080p is actually very rare on consoles because you're framerate would be shit if they put it any higher.

Re:And this is why... (2)

Osgeld (1900440) | about a year and a half ago | (#42815719)

I dont know what console your talking about, even the wii has a system specs list on the back of the game, last time I used a sony it seemed like every game had to do an OS update, no dropping in and playing here, oh you need firmware version 1.0.1.4.2.1, please wait an hour and we might brick your console

Re:And this is why... (1)

kamapuaa (555446) | about a year and a half ago | (#42817073)

You're being disingenuous. If the OS needs to be updated, all you really do is drop in the CD and press play. If the OS needs updating (which might happen once every year or two) it happens automatically. It can't at all be compared to the complexity of building and operating a game computer.

Re:And this is why... (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | about a year and a half ago | (#42817137)

making decisions, using a screwdriver, and operating windows is complex?

you know this is a hobby children can do right?

Re:And this is why... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42817413)

There's forums dedicated to building your own game computer, there aren't forums about how to update your console OS.

Re:And this is why... (1)

Yunzil (181064) | about a year and a half ago | (#42815741)

No need to worry about if X will run well on it, simply pop in the disk and play.

I know someone who had an Xbox without a hard drive. Therefore, he couldn't play Halo 4 until he upgraded his console. Tell me more about this "pop and play" idea.

Re:And this is why... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42819989)

And this is why consoles are still around. No need to worry about if X will run well on it, simply pop in the disk and play. No worrying about if the fact that something can run on it if that means that it will run lag-free or not. No messing through settings for an hour trying to get the best performance.

Much easier to just buy a $300 console which for sure will last 8 years+ of perfect gaming (EVERY title released for your system will work at 100% the developer's intended speed) than to buy a gaming PC that you've got no clue if anything will really run on there and what "run" really means.

Yeah. I feel like playing something right now. Let's pop in the disk. Oh. A new system update. Ok, Lets wait for 15 minutes. Restart. Ok. Oh, new game update, lets throw the damn machine out of the window. That's what it's really like if you don't play every day or every week. I guess I could unplug the network, but then i can't play online. PC is actually much easier for me to just play on. It used to be the other way around.

This is news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42815247)

I've been running Arch Linux on a Zotac ID12-PLUS for CDN$189.99 for about a year now. I don't blame Techreport for writing the article, since, after all, it is a review site like AnandTech or Tom's Hardware. The submitter must not have known these gadgets already exists for similar purposes.

OMG! (4, Informative)

kenh (9056) | about a year and a half ago | (#42815359)

You mean I can actually buy a PC for jur just $279 + RAM + notebook HD = $399 that is capable of running Linux?

That's amazing!

Prices certainly are dropping through the floor...

Oh look, Dell has a system on sale for $299 [dell.com] WITH the so-called Microsoft Tax (Windows 8) and an actual DVD drive.

What was it that made this system special? The novelty of shipping with no operating system? Seriously?

Re:OMG! (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about a year and a half ago | (#42815751)

Microsoft tax? Isn't it a Microsoft subsidy? PC's tend to be cheaper when they come with Windows.

Re:OMG! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42816697)

with bloatware......

Re:OMG! (1)

mic0e (2740501) | about a year and a half ago | (#42817445)

They are not cheaper because of Windows. Microsoft is not that desperate yet - first, they would make pirating easier again. They are cheaper because of all the other crapware that runs on top of the Windows. Basically with each Windows PC you buy, money flows from Symantec to Microsoft.

Re:OMG! (1)

kenh (9056) | about a year and a half ago | (#42817571)

So what? I'm concerned with the money that flows from my pocket to the Mfg. What goes on in the background doesn't concern me.

Re:OMG! (1)

mic0e (2740501) | about a year and a half ago | (#42828057)

I, for one, care about who my money goes to, but the thing is - I do not want any of those two companies to get it.

Re:OMG! (1)

kenh (9056) | about a year and a half ago | (#42817607)

MS does not pay me (lower computer cost) to buy machines with Windows. Installing OEM Windows on a PC enables the other software companies to install their bloatware/crapware on the machine and pay the mfg. to do so.

MS makes money on each PC sold with Windows - period. PC mfg. collects more in bloatware subsidies than it pays in OEM license fees to Microsoft, and THAT makes PCs with WIndows cheaper.

Re:OMG! (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about a year and a half ago | (#42823041)

yeah... same same? PC with windows: cheaper.

holy crap! (3, Funny)

Osgeld (1900440) | about a year and a half ago | (#42815671)

A PC that runs Linux? you dont say, wow ... mind = blown

Re:holy crap! (1)

mic0e (2740501) | about a year and a half ago | (#42817447)

And... even the Remote works!!

Why not (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42815841)

Just buy a mini ITX with an amd e-series, built in decent video, better processor than the linked marketting-shit.

https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&ie=UTF-8#q=mini+itx+amd+dual-core&hl=en&newwindow=1&tbo=d&source=lnms&tbm=shop&sa=X&ei=s_kSUdLMAZHc8AS_0IDQAg&ved=0CAkQ_AUoAA&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.&bvm=bv.42080656,d.eWU&fp=253562700840b3&ion=1&biw=1280&bih=895

Ton's of options, add a drive and ram/case for less than the linked z-box

Hipsters (1)

Dunge (922521) | about a year and a half ago | (#42815929)

This is the equivalent of saying to buy a smartphone for gaming. You want real gaming? Buy a DirectX11 video card and play real games.

Missed the point (1)

smugfunt (8972) | about a year and a half ago | (#42816825)

Everyone's laughing at the lauded gaming potential here, probably correctly. But these little machines do have a couple of real benefits.
1) They are little. You can screw them to the back of your monitor or TV.
2) They have an external, sealed laptop-style power supply. If you live in the tropics or near the sea the moist air constantly sucked through a standard ATX PSU can kill it quite quickly.
And if you don't want to play the latest offerings from Steam they are plenty powerful enough.

Re:Missed the point (1)

kenh (9056) | about a year and a half ago | (#42817563)

1) They are little. You can screw them to the back of your monitor or TV.

Uhm, OK - is that really a problem for anyone?

2) They have an external, sealed laptop-style power supply. If you live in the tropics or near the sea the moist air constantly sucked through a standard ATX PSU can kill it quite quickly.

The vast majority of people do not live in the tropics or near the sea...

And if you don't want to play the latest offerings from Steam they are plenty powerful enough.

Go back and look at the title of the "review"/slashdot article - the article says the machine can handle Steam games, you hold out their inability to run "the latest offerings from Steam"...

Re:Missed the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42818591)

Yeah, I'd like to see one of those screwed to the back of a monitor or TV. Have you ever touched the back of yours? Those things get REALLY hot.

Re:Missed the point (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about a year and a half ago | (#42821051)

Actually, according to this map [theglobale...roject.org] , quite a bit of people, but perhaps not "the vast majority" live in the tropics or near the sea. Just because it's not a problem in America, or Europe, doesn't mean that this isn't a problem for a substantial number of people.

I smell advertisement ! Acer Revo ! is better (1)

burni2 (1643061) | about a year and a half ago | (#42817427)

Just to subdue the Zbox ad.. I will say Acer Revo, Acer Revo, Acer Revo, Acer Revo is better than this zbox shit

why ?

because the revo3600 consists of proven technology running for 2 years straight !

My Linux Friendly Acer Revo3600 will do that and I got it cheap on ebay

Build of mini machine ACTUALLY fast enough to game (1)

sliverstorm (942764) | about a year and a half ago | (#42817547)

Here's a build log of a mini "steambox" I built that is ACTUALLY fast, as in medium to high performance @ 1080p on all but the newest games: http://gist.io/4199804 [gist.io]

WTF (1)

AdmV0rl0n (98366) | about a year and a half ago | (#42818553)

Linux and steam need this box like a hole in the fucking head. It runs games. Caveat.. if you turn shit down.. it runs games that are years old.
Seriously, the WHOLE PC and Linux thing needs to get its shit together. PC's are actually doomed unless people stop producing shit like this. The boxes have to have decent GPU's in them. Every tablet worth a crap has half decent GPU's in them. And PC boxes costing considerably more still fail?

No, shit article, shit suggestion, fuck off back to the drawing board.

If steam ship a broken box based on junk cheap assed hardware, I won't be partaking. This needs to be done right.

Title fix (1)

Terrasque (796014) | about a year and a half ago | (#42818793)

Linux-Friendly* Mini** PC Fast Enough*** For Steam Games****

* Just like every other PC
** Expensive
*** Slow as heck
**** Completely unusable for Steam games

you can get much better components (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42818897)

I don't understand - "you can get much better components if you add them yourself" - so why not go to newegg and build your own computer?

Runs incredibly hot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42819757)

I have a ZBox. Even with an SSD and running at 20% load, the thing consistently shows temps in the 65C range. My main desktop, running BOINC in the same room rarely gets above 40C. There's no way I'd play games on the Zotac, it overheats just watching a YouTube video!

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