The Bottom Line
Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
The MEK1 Gaming PC is a very compact custom medium-PC from Zotac, which is a company who makes a lot of smaller form factor computers. However, this medium-PC as we have dubbed it is part of a more recent push for much more compact high-end gaming systems that use desktop parts but are put together in a way to minimize size.
We saw Corsair try this with their One PC, and it seems this type of custom development is very popular. The good news here is that from what we have seen, it's much easier to upgrade this machine as its custom design doesn't try to conform to some random shape, but instead utilizes a rectangular design that is more common. Let's see what this PC has to offer!
We get an i7-7700 CPU with dual channel 16GB DDR4 memory and a GTX 1070 Ti 8GB GPU, all of which are formidable desktop components. The PC comes with a 240GB NVMe M.2 drive and a 1TB HDD. We also get dual Gbit LAN ports (Realtek) and 1x1 Wireless-AC (Intel). The PC comes in at 16.4"x4.65"x16.34" (HxWxL).
The MEK1 Gaming PC is $1444.16 on Newegg.
Packaging and System
The box is quite big, but it includes a keyboard and mouse as well as the PC. Packaging is very well done, and it looks like Zotac put a lot of effort into it.
Accessories include a custom Mechanical keyboard, a gaming mouse, a custom mouse pad, feet for the PC, WIFI antenna, recovery USB drive, and a bunch of documentation.
At the front of the device, we find a very sleek gaming PC with accent LED strips on either side of the PC. The Zotac Gaming logo can be found just below a door for the front button and ports. The rear of the PC is where you find your AC power plug, GTX 1070 Ti outputs (2x DisplayPort, HDMI, and DVI), 4x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0, PS/2 keyboard/mouse, WIFI antenna screws, dual Gbit LAN, and 7.1 audio with S/PDIF out.
Both the left and right side feature the same scale style accents and air intake vents. The left side features an air intake at the top near the GPU, and the right side features air intake on the bottom for the CPU area. The PC has been optimized for airflow.
At the top of the unit, we can see the sleek form factor of the PC along with accent LEDs. At the bottom, we can see that the PSU uses an extension to reach the rear of the PC, and we find two rubber feet.
Here we see that the front of the unit has a door that can be slid down to reveal the power button, two USB 3.0 ports, headphone output, and a microphone input.
Teardown of the MEK1 Gaming PC
Opening the unit is very simple, and we first opened the right side of the unit and found the GTX 1070 Ti attached to a riser card and secured by a plastic clip. You could easily replace this down the line if needed. We also see that it's compartmentalized, so the heat generated doesn't really affect the rest of the system.
On the left side, we see the rest of the hardware, and it's pretty easy to remove and replace most things. However the wiring is custom done and zip tied, and with all the fans, you don't want to have to redo it. We find out 450W PSU from Silverstone at the bottom of the PC.
The 1TB HDD is a Seagate BarraCuda. We also find a custom control board that controls the RGB LEDs built into the doors and can facilitate another system fan. It connects to the system though a USB 2.0 internal header. The board also has an INA3221 triple channel voltage monitor that monitors the voltage on all three main rails.
The VRM on the mini-ITX motherboard is cooled by a blower fan that can be easily removed to access the HDD tray. The CPU is cooled by a low-profile heat sink that uses many heat pipes.
We find our 256GB NVMe drive, which uses a Phison controller and is cooled by its own heat sink. We also find Samsung based DDR4 sticks and an Intel Wireless-AC 3165 1x1 controller.
BIOS and Software
The MEK1 Gaming PC's UEFI is an actual UEFI, it's not some basic one we have seen with some other pre-built PCs, but it's also not exactly like another vendor, so we can't pick out who their OEM was, but it's close to ECS, ASUS, and ASRock UEFIs. There isn't too much to do in here though since the CPU is not a K-SKU.
Zotac has two pieces of software, and both are pre-installed. The first is Spectra, and it controls the RGB LEDs. The second is FIRESTORM, which is their GPU software, and it allows you to overclock the GPU.
Test Setup and Benchmarks
The keyboard and mouse that are included both have some LEDs built into them. In this low light picture, you can see those accessories along with the desktop itself. The keyboard has multiple RGB LED modes; you control them through key combinations and the Fn key.
CPU, Memory, System, and Graphics Benchmarks
AIDA64 AES and HASH
UNIGINE Heaven 4.0
Resident Evil 6
Ashes of the Singulatiry: Escalation
Rise Of The Tomb Raider
The PC has some pretty good performance in line with what you might expect from a system with a 7700 CPU and a GTX 1070 Ti; it falls perfectly in line with competitor systems. The good news here is that the value of this system based on its price is very high and very much worth it if you are looking for a pre-built gaming machine.
System and IO Benchmarks
Storage and Network Performance
ixChariot Network Throughput:
Storage performance is decent, it's not the best, but it's also not the worst. Networking performance is decent, but we see the weakness of the 1x1 Intel WIFI controller.
Temperature and Power Consumption
The power consumption of the MEK1 Gaming PC is very good, especially at idle.
The rear of the unit does show some heat built up at full load, but the unit stayed VERY silent throughout.
The front of the device does heat up a bit, but overall we have excellent thermal performance.
What's Hot, What's Not & Final Thoughts
Super Slim: The MEK1 Gaming PC is extremely slim, and it's highly optimized internal placement allows this PC to utilize full-sized parts in a chassis more suited for crammed spaces. Zotac optimized and compartmentalized different high-heat items to allow all of the components to exist in harmony inside such a slim chassis.
Easy to Upgrade: Most people upgrade their GPUs more often than anything else in their systems, and Zotac was night enough to forgo customizing the CPU cooling and power, so it's very possible to upgrade the GPU down the line in this unit. You are limited by the 450W SFX PSU, but you should be okay. Storage, RAM, and even the WIFI can easily be upgraded through normal means, although you don't have any free RAM slots.
Lighting: The MEK1 Gaming PC offers customizable lighting that encompasses the entire unit when turned on, and it provides a really cool glow to the system.
Price: The price of the gaming PC is extremely reasonable, and that's possibly why there is a limit on the number of them allowed per household.
WIFI: The WIFI comes from a 1x1 Intel WIFI controller, so you are limited to 433Mbps.
No USB 3.1:Not only are there no type-C ports, there are also no USB 3.1 (10Gbps) ports.
We went and tried to build a PC on Newegg using the same components such as the CPU, hard drive, RAM, and so forth, and we came very close to the price of this PC without even buying a case, and that is just quite amazing. Zotac is offering a HUGE amount of value with this product, and they are using higher-end parts compared to some of the parts we chose. The MEK1 Gaming PC is one of few gaming PCs that cost roughly the amount of the components inside of them, which is a great thing.
The unit is fully customized but in a way that maximizes performance and the ability to upgrade down the line. We have mostly good things to say about the PC, and we also wanted to add that the bundled keyboard, mouse, and mouse pad are all of solid quality and work well. The performance of the gaming machine is also top notch, and although you can't overclock the CPU, you probably wouldn't want to in a PC of this size. If you are in the market for a fully built custom gaming PC, we definitely recommend the Zotac MEK1 Gaming PC.
The Bottom Line: Zotac's feature-packed MEK1 Gaming PC is perfect in more ways than we can count, is reasonably priced, and offers a unique high-performance gaming experience.
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