Zotac finally put a name to its Thunderbolt 3-powered external graphics and PCIe SSD enclosures. Meet the AMP Box and AMP Box Mini.
The company has been teasing its eGPU tech for about a year now, announcing its plans for what is now known as the AMP Box at CES 2017. The prototype device was initially designed to house dual-slot graphics cards up to 13" long, but Zotac reduced the size of the chassis in a later revision (revealed at Computex) to accommodate GPUs up to 9” long. Both of these early prototypes were powered by a 400W PSU and featured three USB 3.0 ports in addition to a Quick Charge USB 3.0 port.
The new (and properly branded) Zotac AMP Box is the polished production version of these early designs, and most of the features remain the same. The device is still limited to dual-slot GPUs up to 9” in length, and although this limitation eliminates a vast majority of graphics cards on the market as a potential occupant of the AMP Box, the design makes sense when you consider that Zotac manufactures a mini version of each of Nvidia’s major GPUs (#brandloyalty). However, the Amp Box is compatible with both Nvidia and AMD graphics cards, and similar to an overweight cat attempting to get comfortable in a shoebox, if it fits, it sits.
Zotac also increased the PSU wattage to 450W (50W more than the prototypes) and expanded compatibility to PCIe SSD devices, a feature that was the primary focus of a similar Zotac-branded product we also saw at Computex.
Zotac’s AMP Box Mini was simply known as “External Box” when we first saw it at Computex, but the device has evolved in the past few months. The initial design focused on PCIe SSDs, with Zotac showcasing the prototype with one of its Sonix SSDs inside. The company also said you could also use the Thunderbolt 3 device to power a small graphics cards, but the prototype’s lack of interior space and PCIe power connectors made this difficult to achieve with anything more powerful than a GTX 1050 Ti.
The company may have taken our critique into consideration with the production version of the AMP Box Mini; it looks like Zotac increased the depth of the chassis, and it added a 6-pin PCIe power connector (along with more juice in the form of a 180W adapter) to accommodate graphics cards that draw up to 150W and measure in under 7.87 inches in length. With less power and space, the selection of compatible graphics cards is less than that of the larger AMP Box, but you can at least get into the VR-ready door with the AMP Box Mini thanks to the added power (and connector), which enables support for a GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card (at most).
The new Zotac AMP Box and AMP Box Mini still don't have a price tag, but we should find out more at CES.