Articles, Blog

A Video Editor’s Review of The Zotac Magnus Mini PC (vs Mac Mini)

October 8, 2019


– Hey guys, my name is Matt Johnson and one of the most popular series that I have created is my
video editing PC build guides where I walk you through the exact parts that you need to buy and
how to put them together to build a video editing PC. While many of you love those videos, one of the most common
emails that I have received is that you don’t want to
have to build your own PC. You would much rather be able to purchase a pre-made PC that requires
little to no work to set up. Because a lot of you are
working professionals that don’t have time to build your own. You want something fast and you’re willing to pay for it, within reason. Now I’m just a guy that films weddings and makes YouTube videos. I do not have unlimited money to go out and buy a ton of PCs to review them and tell you which one
you should purchase. I have a baby and she is quite expensive. The good news is that Zotac, a company that creates computers, reached out to me and asked if I wanted to review one of their newest mini
PCs, aimed specifically at video editors and content creation. So today we’re gonna be
talking about this deceptively tiny yet powerful little
box, the Zotac Magnus. And I’m gonna be reviewing
it from the perspective of a video editor that
uses Adobe Premiere Pro. So if you are filmmaker and you’ve been considering purchasing a pre-built PC and you want something that requires minimal effort to set up in a small form factor, then
I think you’re gonna find this video very interesting. Let’s start off with the first thing you probably noticed
about this PC, the size. When it arrived, the FedEx box
was smaller than I thought. Then the box inside that was even smaller. Then the computer inside
the box was smaller still. My first PC that I built
was a full tower case and my current video
editing PC is a mid tower, and it completely dwarfs this computer. If you are wanting to
make a size comparison, of course the first computer that comes to my mind is the Mac Mini from Apple. Much like the Mac Mini,
this computer is made to be put on a desk in a
small space out of the way, but still provide you with
enough power to be productive. If you are editing videos where space is at a premium and you do not want to purchase a laptop, I can
see this computer fitting very well into a small room. There is a catch though. There’s always a catch. Oddly enough, I’m gonna
tell you to make sure that you have enough
space for the power brick for this computer. Is the computer small or
is the power brick large? This power brick is about 1/3 of the size of the entire computer
and weighs 3.1 pounds. For comparison, the computer
itself only weighs 3.9 pounds. Thankfully, you can put
the power brick down onto your desk and not think about it. With the Magnus being this
size and the power brick being this size, a few thoughts came to mind. First, how much power was Zotac able to cram into this tiny computer? And second, is it going to overheat because of this small size? And let’s throw a third
question in there too. Is it going to sound
really loud under load whenever these fans spin
up to keep something this small and this powerful cool? Let’s talk about components first. If you’re in the United States like me, Zotac is only selling this
computer as a bare-bones system. This means that it comes
with a motherboard, CPU, graphics card, wifi, power supply, fans, and a case. But you are going to need to purchase and install your own SSD,
RAM and operating system. For the purpose of this review though, Zotac sent me an international unit. So according to my YouTube Analytics, my 6% of viewers from
India and 4.6% of viewers from the United Kingdom,
hello, this is the computer that you will probably
be able to purchase. This international unit
comes pre-installed with the SSD, RAM and operating
system of Zotac’s choice. I’m saying the parts inside this thing were their choice because the brands that they chose are not
necessarily my first choice. For now though, let’s
talk about the bare bones version of this computer,
which is the version that my US viewers will
be able to purchase. This Magnus model comes
with an Intel Core i7-9750H six-core 12-thread processor. Yes, that is a processor
that you commonly see in laptops, but I’m sure it’s because it’s a lot easier to make something this small if you use parts that are designed for a
small computer like a laptop. From a power standpoint, I would say that the 9750H is a great
mid to higher-level CPU. I really wish they were able to fit one of Intel’s new eight-core
16-thread CPUs into this computer, but that didn’t happen. That said, this CPU will still
edit 4K video very easily and chew through 1080p video so fast. Don’t worry, I did
benchmarks which we will talk about very soon. Speaking earlier though
about cramming things into this small box, we need to talk about the graphics card, which is probably the most surprising
thing about the Magnus. This version of the Magnus comes with an Nvidia RTX 2070 inside, a quite powerful graphics
card that retails for around $500 standalone. And going back to the size
here, I’m quite impressed that they were able to fit
that into a system this small. I did not do any gaming benchmarks on this because I want to keep this review focused on video editing, but dang. If you want a small gaming device, you should be able to
game on this very easily and even turn on some of Nvidia’s
fancy ray tracing effects if you wanna make things look very pretty. While Adobe Premiere doesn’t
take nearly as much advantage of a graphics card as I
would personally like it to, there is still quite a
noticeable difference in rendering whenever you
enable your graphics card versus whenever it’s disabled. So especially if you have
a lot of effects applied, having a powerful graphics card like this is only going to help you. Alternatively, if you
edit in DaVinci Resolve, that program loves having
a powerful graphics card, and I’m sure this RTX 2070
will be very beneficial to you. There are some cons to this
graphics card setup though. First, there’s upgrade ability. This isn’t a typical
slot in graphics cards so you’re not gonna be able to just drop in a faster one when
you want to upgrade it. You are stuck with the RTX 2070. That leads me to the
second con of the Magnus, and arguably the biggest
omission from this computer. You may be thinking to yourself Matt, you don’t need to be able to upgrade the graphics card of this computer. You could just plug an external GPU into the Thunderbolt port
and use that and you’re set. Well, the Magnus doesn’t
come with a Thunderbolt port. And that is so perplexing
to me because one of the main reasons that you purchase an Intel CPU over an AMD system is that you want to have
Thunderbolt support. It’s not here. There are two groups of
people that use Thunderbolt. The first group is gamers that want to use an external GPU, which the Magnus is ostensibly targeting by
putting an RTX 2070 inside. The second group is video editors. They use a butt-load
of external hard drives and RAID storage arrays
that want to be able to access their media as fast as possible. These video editors may also want to use an external GPU to speed
up the rendering as well. So yes, the lack of a Thunderbolt port is a huge glaring
omission with this system. And I’m really hoping that Zotac will be able to add one in a
future version of the Magnus. For now though, if you do not need to use Thunderbolt external drives and you do not need to
use an external GPU, I still think that you’re
gonna be okay with the Magnus, and the RTX 2070 is pretty cutting edge and it should last you for quite a while. Moving on, let’s talk
about other components. If Thunderbolt isn’t
there, what other sort of inputs and outputs has
Zotac put on this box? Well it’s surprisingly pretty good, especially for how small it is. On the back you get four USB 3.0 ports. And one USB 3.1 Type-C port. On the front you have another USB 3.1 and USB 3.1 Type-C port. Back on the back you
have two ethernet ports. One is one gigabit and
the other is 2.5 gigabit. I really wish they were able
to include 10 gig ethernet on here so you could use
this PC to edit footage stored on a NAS. As it is, the 2.5 gig speed work great for transferring footage,
but I wouldn’t recommend editing 4K with it. For your monitor, you
have two HDMI 2.0 ports and one DisplayPort 1.4 port. Lastly on the back you
have two connections for the wifi six antennas,
which let me just say, wifi is one of two things that I love that Zotac included with this box. The second is on the front in the form of the full-size SD card reader. As somebody that copies a lot of footage, this makes me so happy to see. The front of the Magnus is also where you will find the headphone
and mike jacks for the PC. Unfortunately, there are
not any audio connectors on the back, so if you wanna use speakers, you’ll need to plug them in here. On the bare bones system
that you can buy in the US, this is where the parts stop. You are going to need to purchase and install RAM, SSD
and an operating system if you want to have a
fully working computer. But I have good news for you. The Magnus is one of the easiest computers I have ever opened up and
installed things into. Much like building any computer, all you need is a screwdriver. Opening the case is as simple as flipping it over and removing two thumb screws. Then the bottom slides
off and you have access to literally everything you can install and modify with this PC. There are two RAM stick slots
in the sowed in form factor that laptops typically use. As well as a slot for an M.2 SSD, a traditional 2.5-inch
spinning hard drive. The wifi card and an Intel
Optane memory stick slot. As I said earlier though, I’m reviewing the international version of this PC. So it came pre-installed
with a 128-gig SSD, eight gigabytes of RAM, and a one-terabyte Seagate
5400-RPM hard drive. I also asked Zotac if
they would be willing to send me more RAM as well. Well yes, Adobe Premiere’s
minimum requirements are eight gigabytes of RAM. They also recommend at least 16 gigabytes if you wanna edit HD
video and 32 gigabytes if you wanna edit 4K. And the benchmarks I’m
gonna be showing you will make that painfully obvious
why you need that much RAM. Thankfully, Zotac knows
people at HyperX memory. And HyperX was kind enough to provide me with 32 gigabytes of their
HyperX Impact DDR4 memory at 2666 megahertz. So I could properly review this machine as a 4K video editing computer. Installing this RAM was as simple as pressing two clips to release the old eight gigabytes of RAM and then sliding in the two
16 gigabyte HyperX sticks and pressing down. That’s it, no tools required. The Magnus automatically
recognized the new RAM and it worked flawlessly. If you wanna check out HyperX memory, I will link to it down in the description. So like I said, Zotac has got one of the easiest to open computers. And I hope this part of the video has shown you how
un-intimidating it can be to open it up and install a few parts. Now it’s time to talk about everyone’s favorite
topic, benchmarks. And I wanna be clear
that I used the stock SSD that came with this computer as well as the upgraded 32 gigabytes of RAM whenever I ran these benchmarks. You may be able to see faster
video editing performance if you use a faster SSD. Onto the benchmarks, let’s
answer these three questions. Does this mini PC overheat? Does it thermal throttle? Does it make too much noise? And the answers to that are
no, yes, and maybe depending on your office environment. For benchmarking, I ran
synthetic stress tests in AIDA64, and I also exported
a five-minute wedding film in 4K and 1080p from Adobe Premiere. Let’s talk hard numbers. The synthetic tests showed
me that the Magnus CPU idles between 45 to 50 Celsius. And when you put the
CPU and GPU under load, the CPU is going to rise
to a maximum of 87 Celsius. That’s hot but not too hot. It’s not hitting 99 degrees
Celsius like some computers do. The main issue is that when
this computer hits 87 Celsius, it will also begin to thermal throttle up to a maximum of 41%. Why is this a bad thing Matt? Because whenever your
CPU thermal throttles, it has to slow down. This means that your videos
may not render as fast. What does this look like
in real world usage though? What sort of slow downs are we looking at whenever we’re talking about rendering a video from Adobe Premiere? Let’s look at the render tests that I ran in Premiere Pro now. Completely stock as the
computer was delivered to me with its eight gigabytes of RAM, the six-core 12-thread
CPU of the Magnus rendered out a five-minute wedding
film in high quality 4K in 26 minutes and 52 seconds. It also rendered that same video in 1080p HD in nine
minutes and two seconds. Remember though I really
wanted 32 gigabytes of RAM for this system
because I did not want the memory to be a bottleneck whenever it’s rendering video. When I installed those 32 gigabytes of HyperX memory, the render time for that five-minute wedding film in 4K went from 26 minutes and 52 seconds down to 18 minutes and 34 seconds. That is quite an improvement. Now let’s talk about fan noise whenever it comes to video editing and rendering because I’m sure many of
you want a quieter workspace that isn’t (growling) while
you’re trying to get work done. Here’s the good news. Zotac has tuned the Magnus PC fans to only run at a maximum of 60% speed which means that they don’t get super loud even when rendering. They also emit a much
deeper sound under load than say the fans on
my Dell XPS 15 laptop. Those fans tend to almost
shriek a bit under load, whereas the Magnus fans are much deeper and less annoying to hear. Don’t get me wrong, if
you have a quieter room, you will definitely hear the fans whenever you’re rendering a video, but they are not intrusive by any means. I think that Zotac has
done a fantastic job of tuning the fans, especially
for a computer this small. Going back to the benchmarks though, I’m sure you may be thinking Matt, if Zotac has tuned these fans to only be running at 60%, what if we turn them up to 100%? Will the computer run
faster, throttle less and export videos faster? Well don’t worry, I
tested this and I don’t think it’s a good idea. For starters, turning up the
computer’s fans to 100% maximum makes them significantly louder. They also tend to ramp up constantly, so even if you are scrubbing around on your timeline and you can
hear them, it’s annoying. But what about the performance gain? Could you suffer through the noise if the computer itself is faster? Well, I tested this multiple
times with synthetic benchmarks and video renders and I have found that with the fans cranked to 100%, I was only ever seeing at most
a 200 megahertz improvement over the stock fan speed. Render times dropped a negligible amount from 18 minutes and 34
seconds to 18 minutes and 10 seconds for my 4K render. And from five minutes and 45 seconds to five minutes and 26 seconds for 1080p. That is not nearly enough
performance increase for me to justify the noise. Now there is one other thing that I tried to speed up video renders and cut back on CPU throttling. I used an app called
ThrottleStop to undervolt the Magnus CPU, and when I did that, I saw that my render times dropped from 18 minutes and 34
seconds to 17 minutes and 42 seconds for my 4K video. And five minutes and 45
seconds to five minutes and 11 second with a 1080p video. I also saw CPU temperatures drop by up to five degrees Celsius. And that was at stocked fan speeds. So my recommendation is that if you opt to purchase the Zotac Magnus,
I would recommend maxing out your RAM with 32 gigabytes
and also using ThrottleStop to undervolt your CPU a
little bit so it runs cooler. There is one last thing that we need to talk about in regards to benchmarking the video editing
capabilities of this computer. Many of you have commented
and emailed me saying, Matt, video rendering
is great but rendering is such a small part of
the video editing process. How does this computer handle
scrubbing on a timeline? Does it play back 4K videos
smoothly while I’m editing? How does it handle regular editing tasks? Well first off let me
tell you that while yes, the CPU and GPU are important
to the speed you experience when playing back clips on your timeline. The amount of RAM that your computer has as well as the hard drive speed your video clips are stored on is arguably just as important. I edit my videos off of an external SSD so the video files load very fast. And I recommend that you do the same. I will also tell you that Premiere Pro was much more responsive when editing with 32 gigabytes of RAM
versus eight gigabytes. When this computer only had eight gigs of RAM, I would scrub around to a 4K clip and Premiere would just sit there for one to two seconds before
the clip finally loaded. Premiere even froze up
on me while I was simply opening up my video
project because it ran out of RAM when I had eight
gigabytes installed. With 32 gigabytes of
RAM, you will not need to worry about that happening. And with 32 gigs I was
able to scrub around on the timeline and clips loaded
in less than half a second. If that video editing speed
still doesn’t sound ideal to you, I would highly
recommend creating proxy files especially of your 4K video clips. Even on my 10-core 20-thread desktop that I normally use to edit videos, that still does not load
clips instantaneously and so that’s why I create proxies. If you create proxies,
you’re gonna be able to scrub around on your
timeline and it’s gonna feel like it’s made of butter, it’s so smooth. So if you wanna check out my tutorial on how to create proxies, I will link to it up in the corner and
down in the description. So to conclude this part about
overall timeline performance, I found the Magnus to
be about as responsive as my 10-core editing desktop. Is it perfect? No, but that’s more of a
knock against Adobe Premiere and its level of optimization,
not really the Magnus. I am very impressed by this PC especially considering its size. Wrapping up, we need
to talk about the price of this computer, and I also wanna compare it to some of its competitors. As I said in the start of this review, Zotac is selling two
versions of this computer, a bare-bones version that requires you to supply an SSD, RAM
and operating system. And a fully built version that includes those parts and only requires you to plug it in and turn it on. So which one should you buy? Well if you’re in the
US, you’re really limited to the bare-bones version. But even if you live internationally, I would still recommend
purchasing the bare-bones option. Why? Because the international version that includes all the parts only comes with eight gigabytes of RAM, which we have already determined isn’t really enough for video editing. In addition, you will
most likely want more than the 128 gigs of
SSD space they include, especially when you can
get a faster SSD too. Those of you shooting 4K
will also want more space than the one terabyte spinning hard drive that they include as well. The bare bones version
sells from Zotac’s website for $1,599.99. And you’ve probably already
opened up PC part picker while this video streamed
and started putting in part’s prices. And if you didn’t, don’t
worry, I did it for you. To build a bare-bones PC
with a roughly equivalent desktop-class six-core Intel processor, CPU cooler, decent motherboard,
RTX 27 graphics card, power supply, wifi adapter and case, you’re looking at around $1,250. And then right now you’re looking at the price of the bare bones version of the Zotac Magnus and you’re thinking to yourself, that’s $350 more. Why would I buy this computer
whenever I could build my own? And that’s where I’m gonna
stop you for a second because there is one major
differentiating factor that you need to consider whenever we’re talking about the Magnus versus a traditional video editing desktop. Your custom-built PC in
a mid-tower sized case is comparable to the
Magnus from a raw power and specs perspectives. But when you add overall
size of the computer to the equation, this becomes
a different argument entirely. The Zotac Magnus is many times smaller than my desktop computer. Heck, it’s only a bit larger
than my graphics card. So yes, the price of
the parts of the Magnus are more expensive than
those you would get in a custom-built desktop. And I would not even recommend buying the Magnus if you have enough
room for a regular desktop. But if you need the
power of a large desktop and a much smaller, more portable setup, that is where the Zotac
Magnus really shines. It is going to be up to
you if the size savings is worth that $350 price difference. Lastly, in regards to price other than saving money by building your
own video editing computer, there is one other competitor that comes to mind whenever I think about
small video editing computers like the Magnus. I’m thinking of course
of the Apple Mac Mini. Both are quite small PCs that are meant to get out of the way and fit in spaces where a traditional desktop wouldn’t. Looking at the customization page on Apple’s site, you
could kit out a Mac Mini with a six-core i7 CPU that’s
very similar to the Magnus. With eight gigabytes of RAM
and 256 gigabytes of storage, that’s only gonna set you back $1,299. That’s $300 less than the
cost of the bare-bones Magnus and you’re getting a fully
usable computer from Apple. Wait a second, Intel Integrated Graphics. The Zotac Magnus has a roughly
500-dollar graphics card inside while the Mac Mini has nothing. This is going to cause video rendering to be noticeably slower on the Mac Mini due to the lack of the integrated GPU. Now you can work around
this on the Mac Mini. Due to Apple generously giving
you four Thunderbolt 3 ports on the back, you can purchase
an external GPU enclosure and an AMD graphics card that
will get you pretty close to the performance of the RTX 2070 when it comes to video editing. Not with gaming to be clear,
but with video editing, it’s gonna be pretty comparable. A good graphics card
enclosure is gonna cost you around $300. Then let’s toss in a
Radeon RX 5700 XT for 399, and suddenly you’re looking at roughly $2,000 for this Mac Mini, not to mention you’re increasing the size footprint substantially
with the GPU enclosure and all of the cabling required to add that extra power. With the Zotac Magnus
bare-bones costing $1600, you should easily be able to include those 32 gigabytes of HyperX RAM, a super-fast Samsung 970 EVO hard drive, and a two-terabyte
Western Digital hard drive for all your 4K files. And for all that, it is still gonna cost you less than what the Mac Mini would cost and it’s all gonna fit into this nice and small footprint. So let’s wrap this all up. In conclusion, if you’ve
watched any of my build guides, you would know that I
love building computers. And I think that building your own PC is one of the best ways to guarantee that you are getting
the best possible parts for the best possible price. There is sometimes
situations where building your own computer isn’t
the best option though. Maybe you don’t want
the hassle of building your own computer and
don’t wanna screw it up. Maybe you have the budget for computer but you don’t have the
time to put it together and you want something
that’s very easy to set up. Or maybe, and this situation
may be most applicable to the Magnus, you have a small workspace and you need a computer
that is not gonna take a ton of room while still
being quite powerful. If you fit one of those above scenarios, then I think the Magnus could
be a great choice for you. Is it perfect? No, I wish that Zotac had
included Thunderbolt 3 support for external RAID arrays and GPUs. But if you don’t need Thunderbolt, I think that Zotac managed to cram a ton of useful features
and hardware into this PC. From the integrated wifi to the quite powerful graphics card, while the Magnus is more expensive than some of your PC options, remember that the majority of those options won’t be able to fit
into such a small space. And yes, the bare-bones
version will require you to open it up and install the RAM, SSD and operating system. But that is still significantly quicker than putting together an
entire PC from scratch. It is also really hard to
screw it up, don’t worry. If you wanna purchase the Zotac Magnus, I will be sure to link to it
down in the video description. And I will also include all of the parts that I would recommend that
you pick up for it as well. The RAM that I recommend,
SSD, operating system, keyboard, mouse, monitor, all those things you’re gonna need as well. I will also include a
link in the description to my PC build guide. So if you wanna save some
money and build your own PC, you can do that as well. With that, thank you so much for watching, it would be a huge much bigger
than the Zotac Magnus here, size helped me if you
would consider liking this video and subscribing if you wanna see more videos like this in the future. With that, thank you so much for watching and have a great day. (upbeat uplifting music)

12 Comments

  • Reply Matt WhoisMatt Johnson October 8, 2019 at 4:27 pm

    😁 Get the Zotac Magnus + Parts I recommend: https://geni.us/zotacmagnus

    Long one here guys! Here’s a table of contents if you want to skip around the video:

    00:00 – Intro

    01:18 – PC Size (dang this thing is tiny!)

    02:43 – Components (they crammed an RTX 2070 inside?!)

    06:54 – Ports & IO

    08:07 – How to open the PC & Install upgrades

    10:13 – Benchmarks time! Does it overheat? Does it thermal throttle? Does it make too much noise?

    14:47 – Timeline performance! How does this computer handle scrubbing & playback on a timeline?

    16:54 – Price of the Zotac Magnus (vs a custom-built PC)

    19:19 – Zotac Magnus vs the Apple Mac Mini

    21:12 – Conclusion: Should you buy this PC?

    Thanks for watching!

  • Reply Ferdi Willemse October 8, 2019 at 4:36 pm

    Too much GPU in comparison to the CPU/Memory in my opinion. I'd rather go for a Mac Mini if you want something small. Or else get something bigger and more powerful if you're really serious about performance.

  • Reply Onkel Urban October 8, 2019 at 4:39 pm

    You have Fans in germany too !

  • Reply Sayed Jamil October 8, 2019 at 4:46 pm

    👍

  • Reply Benjamin Easter October 8, 2019 at 5:19 pm

    Wow I literally have to spend more because I live in the US, that’s a company I wanna support!

  • Reply Firefly Supernatural October 8, 2019 at 7:01 pm

    Great vid, looking forward to your guide on how to build my own, thanks!!

  • Reply Javier Paez October 8, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    Matt "WhoisLTT?" Johnson! Great review Matt!
    I'm still grinding my Ryzen 3 2200g with just 8gb of ram, but I don't have 4k footage yet lol
    BTW you made better graphic bars than LTT

  • Reply West Virginia WILD October 8, 2019 at 7:03 pm

    Awesome review man! Are you excited about AMD's future integratiion of the thunderbolt 3.0 since intel has now released the patents on it? Im about to do amd build with the 3900x once they get stock of the chips again.

  • Reply Nicolò Calosso October 8, 2019 at 8:33 pm

    You also have at least a viewer from Italy, myself! Always good to see your videos

  • Reply TSG Music October 8, 2019 at 8:51 pm

    👍👍

  • Reply jf blanco October 8, 2019 at 9:51 pm

    No se no lo veo claro. Habría que sumar también el valor del SO que en Apple es gratuito.

  • Reply KeenT TooT October 8, 2019 at 10:37 pm

    When he said "i have a baby and its quite expensive" I laugh so hard.🤣
    Wait until that baby become a TEENAGER!😥

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