|A member of the Funky Media Group|
|Review: Zotac ZBox Nano-XS AD11 Plus|
|Posted by Ed Smith|
|Wednesday, 09 May 2012 04:13|
Page 7 of 7
Verdict and Conclusion
I was excited when Zotac told us they were sending the ZBox Nano XS AD11 Plus (what a name!) for review, the concept of pocket size "desktop" computers is one that I rather like. I've been hoping that such things would eventually exist for quite a while now, while some companies have made some very small units and the whole smartphone thing has really taken off, nobody has built a straight up desktop/nettop that could fit in my pocket. Till now, of course. The ZBox fits easily in a jacket pocket or cargo pants pocket, rather impressive really.
I love the look, it's a cute little thing. The green ring on top is a nice touch, the BIOS option to turn it on and off is quite nice as well.
The cooling system is impressive given the size of the ZBox, it keeps the APU in its happy area temp wise. The fan is noisier than I would like, with a brutal furmark+Prime95 load it can be heard from across the room if the room is very quiet. With some ambient noise the fan noise is easily covered up.
The lack of an OS or means to install an OS is annoying, if you have a second computer you can download some software to put the windows installer on a USB drive, it'd be nice if Zotac included some software and a USB drive though.
Connectivity wise the ZBox is nicely laid out, though I would like more USB ports given that you'll need to use at least a couple right off the bat for the WiFi and IR bits plus whatever you do for a mouse and keyboard. Assuming, of course, that you don't just use the remote control and windows media center or XBMC. You get five ports overall (unless you want to use the front port for eSATA!), with WiFi plus USB mouse and keyboard and the IR doodad that leaves just the eSATA/USB port. Admittedly I expect most people will use a wireless mouse/keyboard that uses a single dongle. The HDMI output is ideal as output to a HDTV is obviously the point of this operation. Having a wired Ethernet port is a nice touch. The USB IR reciever works great, the built in IR reciever defeated me. The headphone and microphone ports work well too.
MSRP is about $415, this is not cheap, at all. You can get similar units that are a couple inches larger for a good bit less, though they don't come with a SSD. Whether the price is good or not really depends on whether you're after something really tiny (and has a SSD). If you are, it's going to be hard (impossible?) to beat the ZBox. If you have enough room and don't mind using a mechanical hard drive you can save some money.
I am very pleased to see the card reader on the front, I really like them. This reader works perfectly.
The factory thermal interface material is dubious at best, it works, but is beaten by mid range paste. Unfortunately you have to void your warranty to get to it. Given that the ZBox is happy enough with the factory paste I'd leave it in there. It'd be nice if it was better paste though.
Zotac's use of the rubber feat as screws is ingenious, I like that a lot. I also like that you're almost encouraged to access the RAM and SSD, that is a refreshing change from the usual DON'T OPEN IT! EVER! we usually hear. It makes upgrading to 4GB of RAM quite easy. Given that a 4GB DIMM costs a whopping $20 these days I recommend doing so, too.
The performance of the ZBox impressed me. It can't touch my high end desktop of course, but given the size and the price it is quite impressive. You can do some low end gaming, watch any videos you might want to regardless of their resolution and it snaps windows around and loads programs quite quickly, thanks to the SSD.
I'll condense the above wall of text a bit. First, the pros:
There are some cons too:
All told I am rather fond of the Zotac ZBox Nano XS AD11 Plus and give it a rating of 8/10. If you need a truly tiny PC, Zotac's got your back.