Zotac AMP BOX Mini Review – Budget Friendly, Promise Aplenty

eGPU Reviews 16 Comments


Zotac has been a leading manufacturer of mini PCs for many years. They offer a wide range of small form factor computers as well as many components catering to SFF enthusiasts. Zotac now joins the growing Thunderbolt 3 PCIe expansion market. Introduced alongside the AMP BOX, the AMP BOX Mini [ZT-TBT3M-180-BB] is the more compact solution that houses a mini-ITX card. This enclosure also provides four standard USB 3.0 ports that most newer ultrabooks lack. The cost-benefit analysis of pairing an external graphics enclosure with a portable computer still gives many consumers pause. Zotac is tilting the scale by pricing this newly-released AMP BOX Mini at $219.99; it’s the most affordable Thunderbolt 3 PCIe expansion box yet.

Zotac AMP BOX Mini
Specifications  compare 
Price US$
PSU location-type
PSU max power 180W
GPU max power
Power delivery (PD)
USB-C controller
TB3 USB-C ports 1
Ports max bandwidth 5Gbps
Size (in/mm, LxWxH)
9.06 x 3.90 x 7.20
230 x 99 x 183
Max GPU len (in/cm)
Weight (kg/lb) 0.85/1.87
Updated firmware 26.1 ✔
TB3 cable length (cm) 50
Vendor page link
User builds

Hardware Specifics

Zotac took the mini-ITX external GPU enclosure approach currently dominated by the AORUS Gaming Box and turned it on its side. Using a 90˚ angle PCIe raiser adapter commonly found in SFF desktops, the AMP BOX Mini takes a graphics card lying down. This arrangement makes its form factor similar to that of the Sonnet Breakaway Puck. While the Puck uses an MXM GPU, Zotac goes for mini-ITX PCIe fitment. The upsides are lower price and more choices for graphics cards than with MXM. The main downside is a less portable solution.

Another similarity with the Breakaway Puck is the three-piece construction and an external power adapter. There is a top cover, a bottom cover and a mid-section housing. The housing is the only part made of metal. The top and bottom covers are plastic. This results in a very light chassis, at less than 1 kg without a card installed. Combined with the external power brick, it’s a 2-kg package for those who plan to travel with an external GPU. The footprint is about that of a large hardcover book.

The external Delta 19V DC power adapter is rated for 180W. It’s not terribly big and can provide up to 150W to the graphics card via the PCIe slot (75W) combined with the 6-pin power cable (75W). This PCIe power cable is detachable and not needed with PCIe components such as NVMe SSD. There’s ample amount of room inside this box for passive cooling during non-eGPU use. The enclosure housing and top cover have plenty of cutouts for sufficient air circulation, so Zotac went without an enclosure cooling fan.

Zotac AMP BOX Mini + mini-ITX RX 580 external GPU

Internal access is quick and easy with the Zotac AMP BOX Mini. Top cover removal consists of undoing two rubber-top thumb screws then lifting the cover through the access cutout. Removing an installed card is a completely different story though. I found several usability concerns. First of all, the PCIe lock release tab faces inward and is hidden underneath the installed card. Another difficult to reach area is the PCIe power connector. The release tab for this connector faces the inside wall of the enclosure housing, making it impossible to reach with your fingers. The only way I was able to remove the connected power cable was by using a flat head screwdriver to apply pressure on the release tab all while pulling on the cable.

I found the most interesting component of the Zotac AMP BOX Mini to be its Thunderbolt 3 main board. This enclosure is priced reasonably enough that tinkerers may find its main board a suitable donor for a custom eGPU build. Even the power connector is the common-sized 5.5mm x 2.5mm barrel plug. For years our community has been modifying ATX PSUs to power AKiTiO Thunder2 & Thunder3 enclosures. Perhaps Zotac was aware of such possibility, so there’s a warranty sticker on one of the screws holding the TB3 main board in place. If you proudly wear an “I void warranties” t-shirt, the sticker won’t be a bother. I tried pairing this main board with the Dell DA-2 power adapter with some success. The difference in 19V vs 12V output can be remedied by using a step-up adapter.

The four USB-A ports are located at the front of the main board. They go through an ASM3074 USB 3.0 hub controller. As with other single Thunderbolt 3 controller enclosures, the keyboard and mouse connected through the AMP BOX Mini‘s USB ports may exhibit lagging behavior during heavy external graphics workload. Near the rear I/O on this Thunderbolt main board are the three crucial ICs. Here are close-up photos of the TI83 USB-C controller, DSL6540 Thunderbolt 3 controller, and Winbond EEPROM.

Testings & Benchmarks

With up to 150W out of 180W assigned to the PCIe card, the AMP BOX Mini is limited at 15W for Power Delivery. This is not enough to charge any Thunderbolt 3 laptop. It may slow battery drainage during use, but you definitely need to plug in another power source during heavy graphics use. Unfortunately this means this enclosure shouldn’t be paired with single-port TB3 ultrabooks that use the TB3 port for charging. The Razer Blade Stealth is such a machine. The Zotac AMP BOX Mini comes with Thunderbolt firmware version 26.1, similar to the rest of the enclosures released this year.

Officially the AMP BOX Mini is certified for PCIe expansion. Zotac is in the process of certifying the enclosure for eGFX. Another primary use for this box is high-speed external storage with an NVMe SSD. The installation process is identical to that of a graphics card except there’s no need for the PCIe power cable. I tried pairing a Samsung EVO 960 M.2 SSD via a PCIe adapter. Here are the read and write speed tests in both Windows 10 and macOS High Sierra.

Due to its form factor, there are only a handful of graphics cards that both fit this enclosure and work natively with macOS High Sierra. I sourced an HP OEM mini-ITX Radeon RX 580 4GB from an OMEN X Desktop computer. The space inside of the AMP BOX Mini allows a graphics card that’s up to 200mm in length. This is the current list of retail GPUs that may work.


Nvidia GeForce AMD Radeon
Zotac GTX 1060 Pro WX 5100
EVGA GTX 1050 Ti Sapphire RX 570
MSI GTX 1050 Gigabyte RX 560

Windows allows for more flexibility with graphics cards. Keep in mind the 180W power brick can only provide up to 150W to the external graphics card. Therefore power-hungry GPUs such as the R9 Fury Nano or the yet-to-be-released RX Vega Nano may not work due to higher TDP. I tried using a different PCIe power cable to run a Sapphire R9 285 Compact that’s rated for 190W TDP and did not experience crashes. Your mileage may vary depending on which applications you use.

Zotac AMP BOX Mini eGPU + 2016 15″ MacBook Pro in clamshell mode

To run a set of synthetic benchmarks, I paired this AMP Box Mini + RX 580 4GB external GPU with a late 2016 15″ MacBook Pro. The tests were run in both macOS 10.13.4 Beta 5 and Windows 10 1709. During testing the spacious enclosure helped cool the GPU effectively. The only noise emission was from the RX 580 graphics card. Keep in mind the external graphics drivers in High Sierra are currently not well-optimized. For example, the Shadow of Mordor results are significantly below expectation. 

2016 15" MacBook Pro10.13.4 External DisplayW10 Internal DisplayW10 External Display
Unigine Valley36.2 FPS48.1 FPS47.5 FPS
Unigine Heaven29.5 FPS46.5 FPS46.0 FPS
Tomb Raider 201348.7 FPS79.3 FPS83.0 FPS
Shadow of Mordor12.2 FPS64.7 FPS70.9 FPS
Dirt Rally28.6 FPS49.4 FPS51.6 FPS
Hitman27.4 FPS65.0 FPS67.8 FPS


It’s very encouraging to see more Thunderbolt 3 PCIe expansion enclosures available closer to $200. The build quality of the AMP BOX Mini falls far short of premium, but that can be easily ignored at this price point. While not an eGFX certified enclosure at this time, the Zotac AMP BOX mini is no doubt an affordable and promising option for mini-eGPU enthusiasts. Its main components provide a solid platform for those looking to build a custom external GPU enclosure.


See also


Rate this Post

Share this Post


Related Articles
  • Best eGPU Enclosures Reviewed - External GPU Buyer's Guide...
    December 14, 2018
  • Akitio Node Duo Tested Pcie Expansion Cards
    AKiTiO Node Duo Review - Two Slots, Endless Possibilities
    October 15, 2018
  • State of eGPU for Macs – Mojave 10.14 Update
    October 13, 2018
  • Asus Xg Station Pro Strix Gtx 1080 Ti 2016 15 In Macbook Pro
    ASUS XG Station Pro Review - Cool, Calm and...
    August 16, 2018
  • Blackmagic Egpu Radeon Pro 580 Alienware 15 R3
    Blackmagic eGPU Review - Apple's UltraFine Curse
    July 31, 2018
  • Razer Core X Handle Opened
    Razer Core X Review - Thick and Juicy
    May 22, 2018
  • Gigabyte RX 580 Gaming Box Review - Little in...
    May 7, 2018
  • macOS External GPU Review - Out-of-Body Experiment
    May 3, 2018
  • Mantiz Titan Thunderbolt 3 Dock
    Mantiz Titan Thunderbolt 3 Dock Review - #Donglelife Simplified
    April 23, 2018
  • Lenovo Thunderbolt 3 Graphics Dock Review - Dead on...
    March 12, 2018
  • AKiTiO Node Pro Review - Jack of All Trades
    February 12, 2018
  • Hands-on with Lenovo Thunderbolt 3 Graphics Dock
    January 11, 2018
  • Hands-on with ASUS XG Station Pro Thunderbolt 3 Enclosure
    January 10, 2018
  • Razer Core V2 Review - Think Inside the Box
    January 1, 2018
  • ASUS ROG XG Station 2 Review - Irresponsible Power
    December 20, 2017
  • Sonnet Breakaway Puck Review - Pint-sized Compromise
    November 16, 2017
  • Gigabyte AORUS GTX 1080 Gaming Box Review – Tiny...
    November 3, 2017
  • OMEN Accelerator Review - HP's External GPU Voodoo Doll
    October 14, 2017
  • Unboxing: Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Puck
    October 4, 2017
  • Gigabyte AORUS GTX 1070 Gaming Box Review - Tiny...
    August 11, 2017
  • Unboxing: Gigabyte AORUS GTX 1070 Gaming Box
    August 4, 2017
  • Netstor Hercules HL23T Review - Speak Softly and Carry...
    July 31, 2017
  • The Makings of a Good Thunderbolt 3 Host -...
    July 5, 2017
  • Alienware Graphics Amplifier Review - Faster than Thunderbolt 3...
    June 16, 2017
  • Razer Core Review - an eGPU Enclosure Built for...
    June 8, 2017
  • RX 580 External GPU Review - AMD XConnect and...
    May 27, 2017
  • Sonnet Breakaway Box Review - It's cool to be...
    April 30, 2017
  • Unboxing: Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box
    April 26, 2017
  • Mantiz Venus Review: All-in-one Thunderbolt 3 eGPU Docking Station
    March 26, 2017
  • AKiTiO Node Review & The State of Thunderbolt 3...
    January 7, 2017
  • Unboxing: AKiTiO Node Thunderbolt 3 eGPU Enclosure
    December 15, 2016
  • Acer Graphics Dock Review
    December 6, 2016


Leave a Reply

9 Comment threads
7 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
11 Comment authors
JohannesAttackid Recent comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Notify of


I see on your last attached photo that you’re using an ultra wide monitor. What’s the resolution on that 2560×1080 or 3440×1440 pixels? And are all the tests run on that resolution?

I’m an owner of an ultrawide and macbook pro 15″ (late 2017) and looking for a good egpu combination.


So from the size, Evga gtx 1060 sc will also fit inside it? (17cm-12cm-dual slot)


Super interesting product!


Got one of these. I think eGPU boxes are still a little bit expensive for what they do, but this is probably the most affordable.
It still costs more than the video card it’s housing!
Works fine with a Gigabyte RX560 and my Mid 2013 MBA though…


The Zotac Box Mini can now be purchased from Amazon:



It’s truly baffling how this enclosure is called “promise aplenty” vs the Lenovo Graphics Dock is called “dead on arrival”. If anything, this box is the one dead on arrival: it’s too big for the cards it supports (up to 1060) vs the Aorus which is smaller despite internal PSU and RX580/1070/1080 or the Lenovo Graphics Dock which is the most portable of the bunch even if at the price of slightly weaker GPU vs the Puck RX560. Really, not professional. As for ripping out the card from it, the bare Aorus boxes you can find on eBay are even better… Read more »


Hey @chx, I do see your point on why other enclosures would be a better purchase but I can also see the points on why someone would purchase one.

If say someone wanted a fairly cheap option with only needs of a 1050 Ti and didn’t want an second hand enclosure  ( warranty claims possibly), future mini-ITX cards upgradability, and had a fairly small size, this enclosure would be great for that niche market.


DO you think this box might be able to handle (size and power) the gtrx1080 from zotac? Or the gtx1080 mini from gigabye?


I would like to use one of those AMO Boxes with an RX 560 on my Mac mini late 2012 (16GB RAM) and a DELL U2515H. I am running El Capitan at the moment because Sierra does not support HiDPI mode. Would like to play thru windows (bootcamp) games like Vermintide 2 or Blood Bowl 2. Cheers



I would like to run on my Macbook Pro 2011 13″, i7 2,8GHz
with GTX 1070 Mini 8GB (Gigabyte 16,9cm or MSI 17,5cm)
.. won’t Zotac’s own 1070 Mini with 21cm fit?!

Especially, does it bless me to take full advantage of the USB 3.0 Ports in bandwidth read/write despite TB1 & onboard USB 2.0 limitation?