Zotac Zbox nano AD10 review

£254
Price when reviewed

Zotac’s Zbox nano AD10 is the smallest PC we’ve yet seen to include one of AMD’s low-power Fusion chips. It’s only 127mm from front to back and, with its four rubber feet included, it rises only 50mm off the desk. That’s slightly taller than Apple’s Mac mini, but much narrower, so it can squeeze into the tightest of spots.

It bears more than a passing resemblance to Apple’s little marvel thanks to its design. Most of the body is machined aluminium and, while it doesn’t offer the same high build quality, the metal construction ensures it’s sturdier than many small-form-factor PCs we’ve seen. Unlike the Mac, the Zotac’s top is plastic, and illuminated by a green ring that glows when the Zbox is turned on.

Zotac Zbox nano AD10

The underside is plastic, too, and unscrewing those four rubber feet enables access to the Zotac’s upgradable components. The motherboard sits half way up the machine and can’t be removed, but the 2.5in hard disk bay, single SODIMM slot and tiny wireless card can all be accessed and replaced.

On the outside, the rear offers a surprising number of ports for a machine this small: two sockets each of USB 3 and USB 2, a Gigabit Ethernet port, space for a Wi-Fi aerial and both HDMI and DisplayPort outputs, with an eSATA port crammed in vertically. The front offers an infra-red receiver, a media card reader and a pair of audio jacks, although it’s a shame there’s no room for any more USB ports.

The Zotac’s tiny dimensions are impressive, but they don’t leave much room for the internals. Processing power – if you can call if that – is provided by one of AMD’s mobile APUs, the E-350, which runs at a 1.6GHz and includes an integrated Radeon HD 6310 graphics chip. You also get 2GB of 1,066MHz DDR3 RAM.

The modest power levels were reflected in our tests, with a score of 0.2 one of the lowest we’ve seen since the introduction of our 2011 Real World Benchmark suite. On the 3D side, driver issues meant we couldn’t run our Low-quality Crysis test at all; instead, the far less demanding TrackMania Nations Forever scored 41fps at 1,024 x 768 and low settings.

Zotac Zbox nano AD10

Media fans will be pleased by the Zotac’s handling of 1080p video, though, with a variety of high bit-rate test clips playing flawlessly, and the system is virtually silent when doing so – you’ll need to be up close to the machine to hear its hard disk platters spinning, so it won’t disrupt movies.

The processing core peaked at a fine 73°C during our stress tests, and the Zotac drew just 31W from the mains at peak, dropping to 16W with the machine at idle.

You might expect to pay a premium for such a small PC, but this Zbox costs only £255 inc VAT. For that, you’re getting a PC that’s significantly more powerful than Intel’s Atom chips when it comes to media handling, and inside a very neat little chassis.

It’s worth bearing in mind that an OS isn’t included in the price, so you’ll have to use Linux or add extra for a Windows licence. Either way, there’s plenty to like about the little Zotac: enough power for media handling and basic computing tasks in one of the smallest, neatest cases we’ve seen.

Warranty

Warranty 1 yr return to base

Basic specifications

Total hard disk capacity 320GB
RAM capacity 2.00GB

Processor

CPU family AMD
CPU nominal frequency 1.60GHz

Motherboard

Conventional PCI slots free 0
Conventional PCI slots total 0
PCI-E x16 slots free 0
PCI-E x16 slots total 0
PCI-E x8 slots free 0
PCI-E x8 slots total 0
PCI-E x4 slots free 0
PCI-E x4 slots total 0
PCI-E x1 slots free 0
PCI-E x1 slots total 0
Internal SATA connectors 1
Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec

Memory

Memory type DDR3
Memory sockets free 0
Memory sockets total 1

Graphics card

Graphics card AMD Radeon HD 6310
Multiple SLI/CrossFire cards? no
Graphics chipset AMD Radeon HD 6310
DVI-I outputs 0
HDMI outputs 1
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 1
Number of graphics cards 1

Hard disk

Hard disk Samsung Spinpoint
Capacity 320GB
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Spindle speed 5,400RPM

Case

Chassis Zotac proprietary
Case format Small form-factor
Dimensions 127 x 127 x 50mm (WDH)

Rear ports

USB ports (downstream) 2
eSATA ports 1
PS/2 mouse port no
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 0
Modem no
3.5mm audio jacks 3

Front ports

Front panel memory card reader yes

Operating system and software

OS family None

Noise and power

Idle power consumption 16W
Peak power consumption 31W

Performance tests

Overall Real World Benchmark score 0.20
Responsiveness score 0.25
Media score 0.23
Multitasking score 0.13

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