At CES a couple of years ago at CES NVIDIA were demoing the reference design ION/Atom box which was small enough to fit in someone’s hand. That system was essentially a full PC, minus a drive and since then we have seen many manufacturers head towards systems of similar size and functionality. ZOTAC are the first to get there though and do so with a more powerful system which even manages to pack in a drive.
Starting with the external appearance we have a system which very much follows the standard ZBOX design. A solid frame is topped by a semi-transparent lid which lights up from within. There an ideal number of connectors on the front which allow us to quickly insert media cards or USB devices to increase storage and round the back the level of connectivity continues. On the AD05 we did note a lack of USB ports but that isn’t really an issue here because even with Wi-fi, keyboard and mouse installed there is still a free port on the back for charging devices and one on the front spare.
Internally the layout and ease of access is good, we particularly like the rubber screws which double as feet. Then when inside the fact that the memory can be doubled with ease, or the SSD swapped out for a higher capacity model is a bonus.
In terms of performance everything we said about the AD04 and AD05 is relevant here, other than drive speed. The system is also more that capable of playing high definition content, streamed or from disc, drive or online and there is more than enough power from the APU to let us perform some basic gaming also. More advanced games will require low resolution and detail levels, something which is expected for a system of this price range. The big win however is with the inclusion of that Kingston SSD. Because of this we have a system which offers a great, ultra responsive operating system experience, we can move around in Windows quickly and all applications open very fast. Low noise operation and minimal power use were particular highlights of this ZBOX also, something which is becoming very common for ZOTAC models.
At £299 without an operating system the ZBOX Nano XS (AD11) is priced very competitively and given the design, performance and features is near impossible to beat at this time.