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ZT Group Gamer Desktop Z1129 review: ZT Group Gamer Desktop Z1129

ZT Group Gamer Desktop Z1129

Rick Broida Senior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Rick Broida
7 min read
Here's proof positive that good things also come in big packages: the ZT Group Gamer Desktop Z1129 and its desk-dwarfing tower. Though fit for floor duty only, this gaming PC stocks nothing but first-rate components, from a next-generation Serial ATA hard drive to oodles of high-speed DDR memory. Look outside the box, and the picture gets even brighter with a stylish 17-inch LCD monitor, earthshaking 5.1 speakers, and a wireless mouse and keyboard. ZT Group also serves up a good mix of software, including one terrific game, and a solid, three-year warranty. We'd prefer better tech support and expansion options, but these shouldn't keep you from putting this gamer's delight on your shortlist.

You'll have to find room underneath your desk to park this CPU case.
A mammoth Enermax midtower case serves as home to the ZT Group Gamer Desktop Z1129. The case feels as if it is made out of lead and measures nearly 21 inches deep, so not only is it unsuitable for desktop use, it's not the kind of rig you'd want to schlepp to a LAN party. Surprisingly, this giant doesn't offer the expansion opportunities you might expect: just one available SDRAM socket and three open PCI slots, two of which are blocked. But there's no shortage of drive bays, so you have carte blanche on DVD burners, hard drives, and so on.
The admirably quiet case has a mirrored finish (which, alas, shows every fingerprint) and a small window on its tool-free side panel. In front, a hinged door blocks access to everything but the DVD-ROM drive--including the power button. Fortunately, a mini pop-down panel in the door reveals not only the power button, but also two USB 2.0 ports, a FireWire port, a headphone jack, and a microphone jack.

Free drive bays abound.

The back panel includes two USB 2.0 and one FireWire port, along with audio and legacy ports.

The eclectic mix of components that accompanied our Z1129 test system--the Enermax case, Neovo monitor, Logitech mouse and keyboard, and Creative speakers--came decked out in a matching color scheme. Each piece was either black or black with gray accents, resulting in a sharp-looking, aesthetically pleasing system.

ZT Group may not be a household name, but the East Coast company builds a mean gaming system. Intel's 2.8GHz Pentium 4 processor, along with 512MB of 333MHz SDRAM and a 120GB Serial ATA hard drive, drive the machine. The GeForce4 Ti 4600 graphics card is fast, but in the ever-changing 3D graphics landscape, it is no longer bleeding-edge technology. Needless to say, every game available today will run like lightning on this Gamer Desktop system--and look and sound great while doing it. Better still, ZT Group's online system configurator lets you upgrade all of the above, save the memory amount.
Putting to rest the notion that LCD monitors aren't the best choice for viewing games and movies, the uniquely attractive Neovo S-17 flat-panel delivers sharp, vibrant images at its native 1,280x1,024 resolution, and it doesn't blur a bit when the action heats up. But as terrific as the Neovo looks, the Creative MegaWorks THX 5.1 550 speakers sound even better. They're easily on a par with the coveted Klipsch ProMedia 5.1, providing more than enough power and fidelity to satisfy even the most aurally jaded gamers, music lovers, and movie buffs.

The red cable on the right is the Serial ATA connection for the hard drive.

This Neovo LCD looks sharp even before you turn it on.

We applaud ZT Group's choice of the Logitech Cordless Elite Duo, which includes both a wireless optical mouse and a wireless keyboard. The latter offers a generous array of multimedia controls and Internet hot buttons, plus a scroll wheel for mouse-less navigation. And because both components are wireless, you can easily enjoy living-room gaming if you connect the system to a TV.
Another pairing you'll appreciate is the Z1129's DVD-ROM and 48X/24X/48X CD-RW drives. ZT Group also offers a CD/DVD-RW combo drive as an upgrade option should you have the need to burn DVDs in addition to CDs.

Creative MegaWorks THX 5.1 550 speakers will rattle your walls.

Cause for applause.

ZT Group bundles a good mix of software, too, including Microsoft Works Suite 2002 and a handful of games and game demos. These are mostly older titles, but at least there's one standout in the group: The Operative: No One Lives Forever. You also get more than a dozen utilities and productivity apps for everything from authoring CDs to capturing and encoding video.

Application performance
Those seeking a high-performance system need look no further than the ZT Group Gamer Desktop Z1129. The unit that the ZT Group sent for CNET Labs' tests was one of the fastest 2.8GHz P4-based systems using DDR SDRAM memory that we've seen so far (RDRAM-based systems are a hair faster). Assisting in the system's speedy performance is the DDR SDRAM running at 333MHz. The Z1129 also features a Serial ATA hard disk subsystem--a new and potentially faster interface between a hard drive and a motherboard. (Expect to see many more systems in the very near future using Serial ATA subsystems.) Unfortunately, the Serial ATA interface in the Z1129 doesn't appear to afford it any significant performance boost over a typical parallel ATA disk interface.
Application performance  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
BAPCo SysMark2002 Rating  
SysMark2002 Internet Content Creation Rating  
SysMark2002 Office Productivity Rating  
Dell Dimension 8250 (3.06GHz Intel P4, 512MB RDRAM 533MHz)
Adamant Gamers Dream 6030 (2.8GHz Intel P4, 512MB RDRAM 533MHz)
ZT Group Gamer Desktop Z1129 (2.8GHz Intel P4, 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz)
MicronPC Millennia TS2 (2.8GHz Intel P4, 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz)
Sony VAIO PCV-RZ16G (2.66GHz Intel P4, 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz)
Note: In order to find acceptable comparison systems we had to include a number of system configurations that are no longer available.
To measure application performance, CNET Labs uses BAPCo's SysMark2002, an industry-standard benchmark. Using off-the-shelf applications, SysMark measures a desktop's performance using office-productivity applications (such as Microsoft Office and McAfee VirusScan) and Internet-content-creation applications (such as Adobe Photoshop and Macromedia Dreamweaver).
3D graphics and gaming performance
Gamers won't be disappointed with the Z1129's performance. Even though it's been around for a while, the Nvidia GeForce4 Ti 4600 graphics engine is still one of the fastest 3D graphics engines available.
3D graphics performance  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Futuremark's 3DMark 2001 Second Edition Build 330 (16-bit color)  
Futuremark's 3DMark 2001 Second Edition Build 330 (32-bit color)  
Adamant Gamers Dream 6030 (ATI Radeon 9700 Pro)
Dell Dimension 8250 (ATI Radeon 9700 Pro)
ZT Group Gamer Desktop Z1129 (Nvidia GeForce4 Ti 4600)
MicronPC Millennia TS2 (Nvidia GeForce4 Ti 4200)
Sony VAIO PCV-RZ16G (Nvidia GeForce4 MX 440)
To measure 3D graphics performance, CNET Labs uses Futuremark's 3DMark 2001 Pro Second Edition, Build 330. We use 3DMark to measure a desktop's performance with the DirectX 8 (DX8) interface at both 16- and 32-bit color settings at a resolution of 1,024x768. A system that does not have DX8 hardware support will typically generate a lower score than one that has DX8 hardware support.
3D gaming performance in FPS  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Quake III Arena  
Dell Dimension 8250 (ATI Radeon 9700 Pro)
Adamant Gamers Dream 6030 (ATI Radeon 9700 Pro)
ZT Group Gamer Desktop Z1129 (Nvidia GeForce4 Ti 4600)
MicronPC Millennia TS2 (Nvidia GeForce4 Ti 4200)
Sony VAIO PCV-RZ16G (Nvidia GeForce4 MX 440)
To measure 3D gaming performance, CNET Labs uses Quake III Arena. Although Quake III is an older game, it is still widely used as an industry-standard tool. Quake III does not require DX8 hardware support--as 3DMark2001 does--and is therefore an excellent means of comparing the performance of low- to high-end graphics subsystems. Quake III performance is reported in frames per second (fps).
Find out more about how we test desktop systems.

System configurations:
Adamant Gamers Dream 6030
Windows XP Professional; 2.8GHz Intel P4; 512MB RDRAM 533MHz; ATI Radeon 9700 Pro 128MB; Western Digital WD1200JB-75CRA0 120GB 7,200rpm
Dell Dimension 8250
Windows XP Home; 3.06GHz Intel P4; 512MB RDRAM 533MHz; ATI Radeon 9700 Pro 128MB; Western Digital WD2000JB-00DUA0 200GB 7,200rpm
MicronPC Millennia TS2
Windows XP Home; 2.8GHz Intel P4; 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; Nvidia GeForce4 Ti 4200 128MB; IBM IC35L120AVVA07 120GB 7,200rpm
Windows XP Home; 2.66GHz Intel P4; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; Nvidia GeForce4 MX 440 64MB; IBM IC35L120AVVA07 120GB 7,200rpm
ZT Group Gamer Desktop Z1129
Windows XP Home; 2.8GHz Intel P4; 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; Nvidia GeForce4 Ti 4600 128MB; Seagate ST312002 120GB 7,200rpm; Silicon Image SiI 3112 SATALink Serial ATA controller

ZT Group offers a generous three-year parts-and-labor warranty, plus lifetime toll-free phone support, but its warranty could use some improvement nonetheless. For instance, the company provides a 30-day money-back guarantee but charges a 15 percent restocking fee. What's more, phone support is available weekdays only (9 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET); ZT Group closes up shop on weekends. At press time, the company's Web site didn't even list tech-support hours of operation or a phone number, and the site's FAQ page was disabled. We did find, however, an extensive knowledge base and contact info for dozens of component vendors.

ZT Group Gamer Desktop Z1129

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 8Performance 8Support 7