Zotac MEK1 Gaming PC System Review
Mike Sanders / 4 weeks ago
A Closer Look
The first thing that grabs your eye with this system is the blue lighting. This runs across the front, top and even included lighting from beneath. Before we get into the details of the looks with the lighting on though, we just wanted to show in the below image just how good this case looks without it. We will get into design specifics shortly, but this hopefully gives you a fantastic idea of what to expect when you first remove it from the box.
When switched on, it is no exaggeration to say that you are immediately impressed with this styling choice. Although lighting is hardly anything new in gaming PC’s, the manner in which Zotac has implemented in the MEK1 is highly impressive. It doesn’t look garish or over the top. It’s certainly bold, but that boldness only impresses. This is, without doubt, one of the best design and lighting combinations in a system exterior we have seen.
If I can possibly stop gushing over the lighting for a second, even the chassis itself is well presented. Design choices which have been added are unstated and not over the top. Even the Zotac logo, which is on display front and centre is appealing. The symmetrical design of it in comparison to the system provides a perfect mirror effect.
Both sides of the case have 4 large vents to the side with a larger cooling vent to the top. Given that this is a mini-system, air flow and temperatures are going to be a key factor. We do of course look into that further shortly when we get inside the case. Getting back to the aesthetics though, the choices that have been made do not compromise the look in the slightest. If anything, it only adds to what is a really impressive system chassis.
Having looked at the exterior, we should now take a closer look at what options are available externally. To minimize on clutter, the front controls and inputs to the system are hidden behind a tinted panel that slides down. The panel is tinted enough to not make much visible, but at the same time allow the blue ring on the power to be visible, as well as the HDD LED.
In terms of buttons and inputs, you have a nice large power button which has, as mentioned above, a blue light ring when turned on. In addition, you have two USB 3.1 inputs and a microphone and headphone input. It’s nice that they have included all the basics you could possibly need without any useless clutter that would take away from the look.
The rear of the system is where most of the business will take place. We will go into specific details for the specific inputs and outputs, but it is worth noting the number of vents which again allow for the best airflow possible in what is quite a small and compact case.
Around the Back
For the main motherboard plate, in terms of options, this system offers no shortcomings. To the main chassis plate, you will find various sound output options (or input in terms of the microphone) which are all colour coded accordingly. In addition, you will also find 4 USB 3.1 ports, 2 USB 2.0 ports, 2 Ethernet networking ports and a traditional mouse/keyboard pin input. Two wireless aerial sockets are included, but with these, we do find one flaw (perhaps the only) in the system design.
When the wireless aerials are inserted, because of the design of the case they can either stick directly out or awkwardly above. We appreciate that smaller systems can create design limitations. It’s just a shame that given the effort that went into the overall excellent design that this couldn’t have been done a bit better. Despite that, it is of course at the back of the system so aesthetically it doesn’t provide too much of a problem.
At the top of the rear of the system, you will find the input for the power supply and the Nvidia 1070ti graphics outputs. As can be seen in the image below these include 3 display ports and a single HDMI slot. In addition, you also get a DVI slot. The placement of the HDMI slot is a little unusual sandwiched in the middle of the display ports but this amount of ports shouldn’t give you any problems. That is of course with the exception of what your monitor supports and if you have 2 HDMI inputs. If for example, you have an Oculus Rift, your monitor will either need to be DisplayPort compatible or you might need to get an adaptor (which is a minefield).
A look inside!
Despite that fantastic exterior, there are a few gremlins lurking beneath the surface. Removal of the sides is quite simple via a top and bottom screw as is often the case. Once inside though, things are a lot uglier than that beautiful case. We again highlight that when building small systems design and layouts can be limited. This isn’t the most attractive interior you will look at, but neither are most electronics when naked. Despite this, Zotac has made some smart decisions. Firstly the power supply, hard drive, power supply and cooler are all reasonably accessible.
In addition to this, you will note that fans have been fitted to the case exterior to allow for better ventilation of some of the systems key components. In these regards as well, all of these components vent also entirely independently directly out of the case through various areas. Put simply, neither the graphics card, CPU or power supply exhaust in the same place. It’s a smart decision that should allow for excellent temperatures and overcomes the whole ‘airflow’ issue you see with smaller systems.
Opening it up you do find that the processor fan is a little small. It’s not, however, as if you could fit a Noctua in here. In addition, the power supply is only bronze rated and for a gaming system, that is a little disappointing.
On the other side, things aren’t quite so bad in terms of cabling. We must again credit Zotac for making the graphics card very easy to access. With more vents to the exterior case, this also means that as above, the graphics card has been isolated to provide it with an entirely independent air intake and exhaust.
Take a closer look!
Overall then, while this might not be the prettiest system to look at from the inside, it’s certainly well thought out and designed. This, from an aesthetic standpoint, is the only criticism we have of this system and given that it’s unlikely you’ll be using this with the sides off, as long as the temperatures are good, this shouldn’t bother you or detract from anything.