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Ubuntu Hardware Linux Games

Linux-Friendly Mini PC Fast Enough For Steam Games 93

Posted by Soulskill
from the tiny-penguins-with-hats dept.
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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Linux-Friendly Mini PC Fast Enough For Steam Games

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  • by viperidaenz (2515578) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @06:54PM (#42814721)

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

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      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.

    • by couchslug (175151)

      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.

  • by Anonymous Coward

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

  • "actually playable" (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @07:01PM (#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!

    • by gl4ss (559668)

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

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ntropia (939502)
        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
        • by ntropia (939502)

          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

        • by Alarash (746254)
          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.
      • by LoRdTAW (99712)

        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

  • by Master Moose (1243274) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @07:05PM (#42814833) Homepage

    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

    • by VortexCortex (1117377) <VortexCortexNO@S ... t-retrograde.com> on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @08:54PM (#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.

      • $_ =~ s/6770/6670/;
      • by gubon13 (2695335)

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

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

      • by barc0001 (173002)

        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.

        • by Chryana (708485)

          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.

      • by Sudline (1552111)
        "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"...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @07:05PM (#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.

    • by Rockoon (1252108) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @07:23PM (#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.

  • by mystikkman (1487801) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @07:09PM (#42814891)

    Sounds like ZBox is short for Zune Box.

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

  • Shocking news indeed.

  • Flawed review (Score:5, Informative)

    by Guspaz (556486) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @07:17PM (#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.

    • by Rockoon (1252108)
      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)
      • by Rockoon (1252108)
        oh, I meant to include a current AMD integrated GPU such as found in their inexpensive A-series APU processors:

        Radeon HD 6550D - 683
      • by rwa2 (4391) *

        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 a

  • by Anonymous Coward

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

    • 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?

      • by jedidiah (1196)

        Crappy old hardware actually does rather well with Steam.

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

    • 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 Counterstrik

  • 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
  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @07:48PM (#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.
    • 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.
    • by Osgeld (1900440)

      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

      • by kamapuaa (555446)

        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.

        • by Osgeld (1900440)

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

          you know this is a hobby children can do right?

    • by Yunzil (181064)

      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.

  • OMG! (Score:5, Informative)

    by kenh (9056) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @08:02PM (#42815359) Homepage Journal

    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?

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

      • by mic0e (2740501)
        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.
        • by kenh (9056)

          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.

          • by mic0e (2740501)
            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.
      • by kenh (9056)

        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.

  • holy crap! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Osgeld (1900440) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @08:31PM (#42815671)

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

  • 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.
  • 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.

    • by kenh (9056)

      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 "

      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        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.
  • 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

  • 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]
  • by AdmV0rl0n (98366)

    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 s

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

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

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