SZBOX S1 Intel N97 Mini PC – Crazy Low Price Top Performance

SZBOX S1 Mini PC Review

Unboxing and Initial Impressions

Today, we’re diving into an exciting product from SZBOX, the brand known for its Ugoos Android boxes. Meet the SZBOX S1 Mini PC, powered by the Alder Lake Intel N97 processor and running Windows 11. And here’s the best part: it’s only $109!

Let’s see what’s inside the box.

Package Contents

After a quick unboxing, here’s what you get with the SZBOX S1:

  • The S1 Mini PC
  • A magnetic holder for vertical positioning
  • One HDMI cable
  • A 12V 4A power supply
  • A user manual

This mini PC is designed to stand vertically, thanks to the magnetic base. The front features an LCD display with an RGB indicator at the lower section. Once booted into Windows, you can configure the screen to show various hardware monitoring details.

SZBOX S1 in the box

Connectivity and Ports

The SZBOX S1 is well-equipped for connectivity. At the rear, you’ll find:

  • Two HDMI 2.1 ports
  • Two gigabit LAN ports
  • A headphone jack
  • A DC input socket
  • A Kensington lock

On top, there are:

  • Two USB 3.0 ports
  • Two USB 2.0 ports
  • A power button
  • An exhaust vent

One side has a removable magnetic cover for quick access to its internal components, including the 16 GB DDR4 RAM module and the 512 GB NVME M.2 SSD. This panel also has anti-skid rubber strips for horizontal positioning. The base has intake vents, ensuring good airflow.

SZBOX S1 IO ports


SZBOX S1 magnetic base

SZBOX S1 System Specifications

Booting into Windows 11 Pro version 22H2, the SZBOX S1 reveals some impressive specs:

  • Intel N97 CPU with a base clock speed of 2.0 GHz and a boost speed of 2.9 GHz
  • 16 GB of 3200 MHz DDR4 RAM (Sovererca brand)
  • Intel UHD Graphics 730 with a base clock speed of 300 MHz and a boost speed of 1300 MHz
  • A 512 GB NVME M.2 SSD (BR brand)
  • Realtek 8852 BE Wi-Fi 6 adapter
  • Dual gigabit LAN ports

Preinstalled software includes applications for controlling the RGB lighting effect and configuring the LCD hardware monitoring display.

SZBOX S1 system and hardware info

SZBOX S1 RAM module


Display and Audio Features

The SZBOX S1 supports a variety of display and audio features:

  • 4K display at up to 60Hz
  • HDR display
  • 360° screen rotation to portrait mode, reverse portrait, and reverse landscape
  • Wireless display
  • Dual extended monitor display through two HDMI ports

When connected to a surround sound audio system or an AV receiver, it supports 5.1, 7.1, Dolby Atmos, and DTS X audio formats. Here are the results from our audio tests:

  • Dolby Atmos
  • Dolby Digital Plus
  • Dolby Surround from Dolby Vision videos
  • Dolby TrueHD
  • DTS X

The SZBOX S1 can handle all these surround sound formats.

SZBOX S1 Surround sound audio


SZBOX S1 Video Playback

For video playback, installing extensions from the Microsoft Store (HEVC, MPEG layer 2, and AV1) allows you to enjoy various 4K HDR video formats. Here are some examples:

  • 4K AV1 video with HDR
  • Dolby Vision video
  • Dolby Vision with Dolby Atmos
  • HDR10+
  • HLG

Note: Mini PCs don’t have an auto HDR feature, so you’ll need to manually turn HDR on or off.

SZBOX S1 HDR display


Gaming Performance

The SZBOX S1’s GPU isn’t designed for high-resolution gaming. It’s best suited for 1080p at 60Hz for smooth gameplay. Here’s an example:

  • Race Room Racing Experience (Steam platform): At 1080p resolution on low to medium graphics settings, it runs smoothly at 49 FPS. Higher settings drop the FPS to around 14, and graphics rendering struggles.

SZBOX PC Mark 10 graphics quality

SZBOX S1 Benchmark Results

Let’s look at some benchmarks:

  • RAM Transfer Speed: 4703 MB/s
  • M.2 NVME SSD Speeds: Sequential read speed of 1700 MB/s, sequential write speed of 1470 MB/s
  • Wi-Fi and Ethernet Speeds: On a 315 Mbps internet connection, both Wi-Fi bands and the LAN port averaged over 300 Mbps

For CPU performance:

  • Geekbench 5: Single-core score of 1019, multi-core score of 2602

For GPU performance:

  • 3DMark Time Spy (1080p): Less than 30 FPS
  • 3DMark Time Spy (1440p): Less than 20 FPS

For comprehensive benchmarks:

  • Antutu Benchmark (PC version): 333,006
  • PC Mark 10: 3240 (includes web browsing and video editing scores)

In my rankings chart, the SZBOX S1 holds the 13th position, which is impressive for its chipset.

SZBOX S1 Antutu benchmark

SZBOX S1 PCMark 10 benchmark

Alternative Operating Systems

The SZBOX S1 has an additional M.2 slot, but it only reads NGFF M.2 SSDs, which are becoming outdated. It doesn’t detect NVME SSDs. Another limitation is that the BIOS only reads flash drives of 32 GB or smaller. Larger drives or SSD enclosures won’t work for installing alternative OS.

SZBOX S1 NGFF expansion port

I successfully installed Android 13 x86 Bliss Zenith version 6.9.6. Under Android x86:

  • CPU clocked at 3.6 GHz in 64-bit mode
  • Android 13 OS
  • CPU idles around 52°C
  • Good GPU performance for energy gaming
  • Antutu score of 244,533

However, audio through HDMI and Bluetooth don’t work by default in this firmware.

SZBOX S1 pros and cons

Final Thoughts

In summary, the SZBOX S1 Mini PC offers excellent value for its price. It features a user-friendly design with a magnetic cover for easy access to internal components, silent fan operation, and an LCD hardware monitor for a modern touch. However, it lacks a USB Type-C port, its second M.2 slot is limited to NGFF SSDs, and the BIOS can only read small installation disks.

If you’re looking for a high-performance budget mini-PC, SZBOX S1 is a great option. Check out the link in the description below for more details.

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