Mini PCs are a relatively new phenomenon and went commercial in 2005 with the Apple Mac mini. Since then, a handful of manufacturers have launched their own variants of mini PCs that are cost friendly and yet keeping the consumers' wants in mind. Zotac, a brand that is well known for PC components have released quite a few mini PCs. Recently, the company has built up on their Zbox series of mini PCs and launched the Zbox Nano Plus AD10 which comes with some interesting features such as a 300 GB hard drive, 2 GB of RAM and a host of other features. Read on to know if this pint-size computer lives up to be the solution for a good HTPC.
The vents at the side aid in keeping it cool
Design and Build Quality
The size of the Zotac Zbox Nano Plus is the most striking design aspect of this mini PC. This Zbox is square in shape and measures just 5 inches in length and breadth. The depth of this mini PC is quite low at 1.77-inch. The top panel is glossy Black with a Green LED ring, which lights up when it is on. The sides of the Nano AD10 Plus are finished in matte Silver. The base panel can be removed by merely turning the four rubber padded screws located at the four corners. There are indications on the back panel stating which side faces the front. Even though the screws were removed, the panel does not slide out easily. We liked this design quality of the Nano AD10 plus.
Though small in build, Zotac has managed to fit quite a few components in this mini-PC. There is a 2.5-inch 320 GB internal hard disk drive along with a 2 GB RAM all fitted in the Nano Plus variant of the Zbox Nano.
The remote control looks stylish and sleek
Connectivity options for this Zbox Nano Plus are located at the front and rear. In the front, this mini PC features the on/off button, memory card slot, 3.5 mm audio jack as well as a connector for a mic. The left side has vents which aid in the cooling process. To the rear of this mini-PC are connections for HDMI, DisplayPort, two USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, an Ethernet port and an eSATA port.
Overall, where design and build quality is concerned, Zotac managed to make this Nano AD10 plus, compact and sturdy.
The Zotac Zbox Nano AD10 Plus is loaded with features and is particularly designed to be an HTPC with its compact size. The Zbox Nano AD10 Plus comes with a storage capacity of 320 GB, which has a 2.5-inch form factor. This mini-PC is powered by an AMD E-350 1.6 GHz dual core processor which features an AMD M1 chipset. The integrated GPU is an AMD Radeon HD 6310. Combined, these make a good solution for an HTPC.
The front features the 6-in-one memory card reader
Out of the box the Zbox Nano plus comes without an operating software, however, one can merely attach an external optical drive and set up an operating system easily. The mini-PC comes with drivers that can easily configure the USB 3.0 ports and GPU. This Zbox can be attached to a display either through the DisplayPort or the HDMI port. These connectivity options are found on the rear. An HDMI port is found on most of the latest televisions in the market today while DisplayPort is found on monitors.
USB 3.0, HDMI and DisplayPort located at the back
Bundled up with this mini-PC is a remote control that can be connected through an integrated IR receiver. The setup process of this is not entirely straightforward. One is required to go into the BIOS to configure it.
This mini-PC is not really designed to perform as a standalone PC. We did run our regular benchmarks and it did manage to pull through on most counts. While running our 3D Mark Vantage benchmark we recorded a score of 678 points. The GPU score noted in this test was 556 while the CPU recorded 1972. This is in no way, impressive.
Real world tests like file copy did a bit better with a 4GB single file transfer of around 57.237 seconds. Multiple 4GB file transfer tests copied at 91.838 seconds. Speeds peak out at roughly 71 MB/s, which is pretty decent for a 2.5-inch drive. Video encoding took quite a bit of time with a two minute video taking 6 minutes 3 seconds to encode. Viewing HD videos on the Zbox was really good. Full HD 1080p videos played without any framing or lapses. We ran our gaming benchmarks namely Dirt 2 and Resident Evil 5. Though both managed to play, the resolution had to be set at 1280 x 720. With the resolution set at 720p, the average frames per second of Resident Evil 5 and Dirt 2 were 11.2 fps and 15.5 fps respectively. This isn’t exactly playable frame rates and you won’t be using the Zbox to play games. Older titles should run just fine if you absolutely need to run them.
Really mini PC
The Zotac Zbox Nano AD10 Plus sells at a market operating price of Rs. 17,999. This makes it a really good choice for an all-in-one computer where one can browse the Internet, use simple Microsoft Office tools like Word, Powerpoint, Excel, etc. But, where the Zbox AD 10 really shines is at being an HTPC solution. The small size of the chassis makes it an obvious choice. The ability to run HD content flawlessly is also great. Its low operating temperatures also makes it ideal as a 24/7 download rig. The only other components one has to purchase are a keyboard, mouse and a TV or large screen monitor and you’re good to go.