ZOTAC ZBOX Nano AQ02 Plus Mini PC Review

ZOTAC ZBOX Nano AQ02 Plus Review

ZOTAC ZBOX Nano AQ02 Plus Review

Today ZOTAC release the latest in their ZBOX Nano range, the ZBOX Nano AQ02. Palm sized and featuring an AMD APU we have the Plus version on our test bench for a quick look.

ZBOX AQ02 boxZBOX AQ02 bundle

We have taken a look at a number of ZBOXes now, like the ID68 and the ID64, and the AQ02 sticks to the same styling with a clear image of the product shown. Surrounding it are key features and then inside we find a bunch of documentation, the PSU (65w), mains cable, screws, TV/wall mount, mini-S/PDIF dongle and Wi-Fi antenna.

ZBOX AQ02 topZBOX AQ02 base

The system itself is very compact at 12.7cm x 12.7cm x 4.5cm and uses a metal chassis with plastic top and base. As is common for the ZBOX brand we have a LED circle which glows through the top (green) and the four feet on the base are rubber. We can remove the base by unscrewing these which gives us access to the upgradable internal components… more on them in a moment.

Looking round the outside we have two air vents on the side and back with a Kensington lock slot on the left also. On the front we start with the power button and LEDs along with an IR receiver. Then we have a 7 in 1 card reader, 2xUSB 2.0 and our 3.5mm audio connectors (one of which converts to mini-S/PIDIF).

On the back there are four further USB ports, all USB 3.0 spec and our video outputs are DisplayPort and HDMI (with digital audio), eSATA and a GB LAN port. Also visible are the Wi-Fi antenna port on one end with the power input on the other.

ZBOX AQ02 internal

As mentioned earlier we can get access to the inside of the system very easily to upgrade a few of the key components. As standard on the Plus version of the AQ02 we get a 500GB Samsung drive and 4GB of Crucial DDR3-1600. ZOTAC then add a Wi-Fi card and it was great to see that on this version of the ZBOX we get a new Wireless-ac model, the dual band 3160.

CPUz and GPUz settings

Powering the system we have an AMD A8-5545M APU, that is a 19w Richland quad core part which runs at 2.7GHz. The GPU built into this chip is the “Scrapper” or Radeon HD 8510G. This is a DirectX11 GPU with core clock of 554MHz and 384 shaders.

Testing
The ZBOX does not arrive with an OS installed. We added Windows 8.1, the latest patches and drivers then tested the following.

Benchmark
Benchmark
Call of Duty Ghosts ScreenshotDOTA 2 Screenshot
Benchmark
Benchmark

 

In our first two tests we decided to take a look at gaming on this low power system with the aim of running at 1280×720 resolution (similar to the Xbox). With Call of Duty this was almost achievable with Very Low detail, though many would want to tweak the settings further. With DOTA 2 we were able to retain high settings which was ideal and although there were drops to as low as 20fps, on a game engine like this it isn’t really an issue. Really though the AQ02 is designed to be a system for daily use on web surfing, productivity and media. It does the first two fine, breezing through desktop use, email and browsing. To establish the media performance we ran two tests, conversion of 2CDs worth of lossless music to MP3 and playback of 1080p. In the first test the ZBOX completed the conversion in a respectable 2 minutes 30 seconds. For playback our 1080p stream the ZBOX ran with no issue, completely smooth playback with only 10% of the CPU used and plenty free for other tasks.

Prices…
RRP £424.99 (Plus) or £224.99 (Barebones)

 

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