Zwift branded PC box?

@DaveHiggins With the advent of the Zwift Hub, Zwift have shown that they are willing to add a badge (and nicer UI components) to hardware made by someone else. Why not do this with a Zwift-branded low-cost PC? Imagine a low-cost box with just the components you need to run Zwift in Ultra mode, with a bit of future-proofing so that the 2023 ZwiftPC™ is guaranteed to run in ultra mode through at least Dec 31, 2028.
I imagine that if they put out a request for proposals (RFP) to a number of commodity PC makers, they could find a partner willing to make a lot of cheap Zwift-badged product. Then add a lot of user-friendly UI/setup instructions to make it a turnkey solution (esp with the ZwiftHub/ZwiftPC package). Ideally the price would be in the neighborhood (but a bit higher with better components) of the Apple TV, currently the low-end entry for a lot of folks.
This would be another step in making it easier for new Zwifters to enter the Zwift world.

You’re asking the literally impossible.

3 Likes

Maybe, but I would have thought that the price point of ZwiftHub was impossible. Roughly 40% less than market prices and included a custom cassette. What would a reasonable price point be to have a minimum 5 year lifespan on Ultra?? Not my area, so I really have no idea.

So you’ve no idea how much an Ultra-capable PC would cost, but want it future proofing for five years at the same price as an Apple TV? Come off it.

3 Likes

Anyway Ultra is just the profile, describe the resolution and frame rate you’d be expecting for the next five years and I’ll be able to work out roughly how much Zwift would have to subsidise per PC in this theoretical world where they have to take on 150 extra support staff. :face_with_hand_over_mouth:

And how long they’d stay a viable business, assuming they could keep up with the insane worldwide demand. This would be measured in minutes.

The Zwift Hub is a turbo trainer. Our little indoor cycling hobby is just slightly less popular than PC gaming, so I’m fairly certain a good number of people would be interested in buying this system that is being subsidised by about 80%. :wink:

1 Like

Support for a trainer is one thing, and even Zwift’s tweaked version of an existing trainer is having teething problems, which is to be expected.

The support issues for a complex combination of software and hardware like a PC would be exponentially greater.

2 Likes

The challenges of (currently) trying to support X computer hardware setups * Y trainer setups is already very great, and unfortunately, multiplies with time and new hardware on the market. Simplifying that down to one primary newbie setup - Zwift Hub * Zwift computer - would likely make support a lot easier. Completely agree that there would be teething problems early on, but if the software and computer and trainer are designed to work together from the start, the number of ways things can go wrong should be much smaller - which would be a win for Zwift newbies, lower the barrier to entry, and get more people on the platform.And likely lower the support burden, rather than increase it.

Let’s assume you mean a setup that renders the game in constant 1080p30 (like Apple TV), but at Ultra profile instead of Basic. This a long way from future proof for five years when many people already own 4K TVs, but we need to keep costs sensible.

That should be possible on a GTX 1630 or RX 6400, which are the most modern low end GPUs I can think of. At retail, graphics cards containing either of these GPUs currently cost more than an Apple TV alone. Even if Zwift were somehow able to buy the chips in bulk cheaper than consumer graphics card prices (righto), that still leaves nowhere near enough money to cover a motherboard, CPU, RAM, storage, PSU and a case/enclosure with all the cables and connectors. Then there’s all the packaging and logistics to consider. Bear in mind that customising any of this to suit Zwift’s probable marketing demands (say to make it physically small) would cost even more money to go away from the norm. Zwift would therefore have to subsidise a huge difference in cost to match the price of an Apple TV. And this is only the hardware side, they’d then need to add an operating system and sort out the software. If it was Windows-based, add the cost of a licence etc. Then add the astronomical customer support implications, as Steve mentioned.

Zwift is a 3D video game. If it were possible to build and sell a dedicated system capable of rendering detailed 3D games for the price of an Apple TV, and not instantly go out of business, why isn’t anyone already doing so? The closest thing to this concept would be a games console, well Microsoft lose up to $200 on every Xbox they sell at present, and this is two years after launch. They’ve never made a profit on any Xbox.

2 Likes

Now we are getting somewhere. Xbox series X lists for $500. That is a reasonable target. The goal is to get newbies on Zwift for a reasonable price that delivers good quality graphics. Could Zwift buy a bunch of XbsX (or PS5) CPUs at wholesale and hardware/software mod them to run Zwift with a Zwift badge slapped on the box?
And make it super user-friendly/turnkey?
That would be a great entry point for newbies, particularly with a ZwiftHub/ZwiftBox bundle for $1K.

Uh, you wanted it at the price of an Apple TV. If the budget is allowed to quadruple then the entire premise of the thread changes. Anyone can build an Ultra capable PC for that much money.

But still, this:

is an absurd concept. No, they absolutely could not do that. Irrespective of the price.

If I’m reading you correctly…
The Zwift Hub is indoor cycling hardware. You can’t do anything else with it, except indoor cycling. Zwift has done some analysis, I assume, to subsidize the cost in hopes that the purchasers of the Zwift Hub will continue to subscribe to Zwift, and use the Zwift Hub.
If Zwift were to make a PC, and absorb some of the cost of the PC to make it cheaper, there are no assumptions that can be made, like you can with the Zwift Hub. If it were a decently spec’d computer, the PC would be purchased by people that have zero interest in cycling. Zwift would be eating a lot of the cost, with significantly less assurances that the PC would be used for ANY indoor cycling.

1 Like

Absolutely right. The Hub is relevant to a miniscule market, and by selling it directly Zwift expect to capture game subscriptions. Yes you can use it with other training software, but that’s low risk. Note that JetBlack are also selling the original version Volt at the same price, so there’s not even anything to say Zwift are subsidising the actual trainer.

Compare this to word getting out that there’s a random company selling a complete PC for $130, never mind one capable of 3D gaming. It’s ludicrous.

OP is effectively asking why Kia can’t just buy Ferrari engines and sell family cars capable of 0-60 in 4secs.

1 Like

On a slightly different track, and really knowing nothing about the inner workings of a PC, would it be possible and/or feasible to make an ATV-sized gadget that runs Zwift, but nothing else, in Ultra profile and sell at a reasonable price? I truly have no idea.

Not with consumer parts. It would need to be a fully custom system, like the Ryzen APU based mini PCs, Intel NUCs or Mac Mini on Apple silicon. None of which have been deemed powerful enough for Ultra profile to date. We’d be effectively getting into the games console business. And the same comments above apply; even dedicated to Zwift everyone else would want one to hack. If it could run Zwift on Ultra, it could run Fortnite, or Minecraft, or Apex Legends, or a ton of other hugely popular online PC games. Or emulate literally thousands of older console games. Or be a powerful media centre…

Doubtful. It would be very specialised like an Apple Mac Studio but without the operating system.

You need an operating system I suppose for many of the functions it provides or you’d have to build them into Zwift (rewriting it in the process).

That sounds like a headache to do and wouldn’t be at the required price point. Better spend the effort to optimise Zwift more. Or expand existing worlds.