[Unboxing] Zotac AMP BOX Mini Thunderbolt 3 eGPU Enclosure
Zotac was at CES 2018 but I failed to locate their suite. The product of interest at the show was the new Thunderbolt 3 eGPU enclosure, AMP BOX Mini. Fortunately Zotac US reached out and I received a media sample of this enclosure last night. Here are some unboxing pictures and my first impressions.
The retail package is very light and slightly larger than a typical full size graphics card package.
It really wants you to know this AMP BOX Mini enclosure is an external box suitable for installing NVMe PCIe SSD or graphics card.
"Push your Skill" and a call-to-action as you unbox. A small black paper sleeve contains the Quick Start Guide and User's Manual.
The red box on the left contains all accessories: power adapter & cable, .5m Thunderbolt 3 cable, 6-pin PCIe power cable, PCIe raiser card. Here's the power brick next to a mini-ITX RX 480 for scale.
The two thumb screws in the back of the enclosure have rubber covers. Once you remove these screws, lift the top cover through the small gap in the middle. There are two other thumb screws holding the PCIe bracket in place.
This bracket works together with the PCIe raiser card to make sure the graphics card is well supported. It also helps with alignment during card installation. The mini-ITX RX 480 fits with plenty of room to spare.
Here's a close-up of the PCIe power connector on the main board. It's actually an 8-pin connector but the supplied power cable is for 6-pin use only. Perhaps Zotac is planning for a optional upgrade power brick + 8-pin cable in the future to cater more power hungry cards. Out of curiousity, I used the 6-pin to 8-pin PCIe power cable from the Razer Core V2 to install the R9 285 ITX. The card powered up and worked well through several benchmarks without crashing.
Next I checked power delivery and Thunderbolt firmware version. PD is set at 15W and the firmware is 26.1. This must be the firmware version of all Thunderbolt 3 eGPU to be released in 2018.
Paired with the RX 480 GPU, this Zotac AMP BOX Mini works plug-and-play with macOS 10.13.4 beta. Clampshell mode works very well. I also was able to use a Logitech keyboard & trackpad with the USB adapter plugged into one of the four ports on this enclosure.
I will be doing tests for a full review of the Zotac AMP BOX Mini. Please let me know if I left out any information you’d like to know.
@jonah765 It's $219.99.
@itsage omg, thats amazing, Ive just seen it on new egg for £156.99 ... finally an affordable, portable eGPU. Also, can it house a GPU and an SSD at the same time? or is it just a GPU or an SSD
Either or, not both at the same time. I'd recommend using a USB SSD through one of the four ports this AMP BOX Mini has. Better yet use the external SSD with one of the USB ports on your computer so that full Thunderbolt 3 bandwidth is dedicated to eGPU.
PSU upgrade options appear limited and expensive
Here’s a close-up of the PCIe power connector on the main board. It’s actually an 8-pin connector but the supplied power cable is for 6-pin use only. Perhaps Zotac is planning for a optional upgrade power brick + 8-pin cable in the future to cater more power hungry cards.
I can just make out it's AC adapter is a Delta ADP-180MB K 19.5V - 9.23A, 180W but am not sure on the output connector (5.5mmx2.5mm?)
Sure, Zotac may have designed it internally to cope with up to 225W power (8P=150W + 75W slot power) to the GPU but the problem there is the availability of an appropriate PSU to team up with it. They're budgetting a 30W overhead for TB circuitry & it's 15W power delivery.
So to sell it as a 225W-capable device, they'd need to include a 255W or better AC adapter. There are 230W 19.5V AC adapter such as Delta ADP-230EB T available for Asus ROG, HP ZBooks, (again not sure if it's a output pin-compatible replacement) but even they are rather expensive and don't hit our 255W mark.
So it would seem then cost and AC adapter availability are reasons why a 180W AC adapter is supplied with this unit.
For that reasons, users looking at a compact enclosure to power more powerful cards may want a 450W-equipped Aorus Gaming Box. In another thread, a eGPU.io user noted they are flooding ebay as empty shells due to miners buying them for their mITX GTX1070/GTX1080 and offloading the enclosure.
Sadly by the time you add in taxes and duties you end up looking at nearer £230... we always get stitched up a bit in the UK.
2017 13" MacBook Pro Touch Bar
GTX1060 + AKiTiO Thunder3 + Win10
GTX1070 + Sonnet Breakaway Box + Win10
GTX1070 + Razer Core V1 + Win10
Vega 56 + Razer Core V1 + macOS + Win10
Vega 56 + Mantiz Venus + macOS + W10
@nando4 I checked the output connector size last night and can confirm it's a 5.5mmx2.5mm barrel plug. An intriguing proposition then is to use the Thunderbolt main board from this enclosure to build a custom eGPU. This AMP BOX Mini provides all the good bits: a one-piece main board with 1x TB3 port & 4x USB ports, an angle PCIe raiser card, and a decent power adapter.
@itsage , can you identify any voltage regulators near the power input plug? Can it accept 12V input instead of 19.4V. Having a 5.5mmx2.5mm input plug, along with ability to say accept 12V would mean we could revert to using a very affordable 220W Dell DA-2 or 252W Meanwell PSUs as used previously for AKiTiO Thunder mini-eGPU builds for higher power input?
Maybe a question you can ask of your Zotac contact? What input voltages can the Zotac BOX Mini accept?