Honey, Zotac shrunk the nettop

Zotac’s Zbox Nano AD10 is one of the smallest nettops we’ve ever seen. It’s a fantastic mini PC, and now there’s new version with even tighter dimensions. The Zbox Nano XS AD11 measures a scant 4.2" x 4.2" x 1.5" (106 x 106 x 37 mm), which is 17% smaller than the old model. For reference, Apple’s Mac Mini is about as thick but has a much larger 7.7" x 7.7" footprint.

Like its predecessor, the Nano XS has AMD hardware under the hood. The bite-sized PC features a Brazos-based E-450 APU with Radeon HD 6320 integrated graphics. 2GB of RAM is included, as is a 64GB mSATA solid-state drive. The XS is too small for even a 2.5" mechanical hard drive, it seems.

Despite its tiny chassis, the XS still has a decent array of connectivity options. There’s an HDMI output at the rear alongside four USB ports; half of the USB ports are of the SuperSpeed variety, while the others offer more power to devices that support fast USB charging. The port array also includes an optical S/PDIF out, an eSATA/USB port, and a Gigabit Ethernet jack. 802.11n Wi-Fi is supported, of course, and there’s a 6-in-1 memory card reader up front. Zotac throws in an MCE-compatible IR remote and a VESA mounting bracket that makes it easy to hang the Zbox off the back of a monitor or anywhere you can drive a few screws.

Unlike the old version, which can be had for as little as $200 in a barebones configuration, the Nano XS will be sold as a fully equipped Plus model. The device is set to cost $360 without an operating system.

 

While one could build a mini PC for cheaper, good luck cobbling together anything close to the same size. My only reservation is the system’s tiny blower, which seems like the sort of cooler that could get louder over time and be difficult to replace. The cooling options are limited for such a tiny system, though.

Comments closed
    • shaurz
    • 8 years ago

    And I thought my Zbox AD04 was tiny…

    • ronch
    • 8 years ago

    $360 is a bit steep for this thing, considering it lacks a display and you can almost certainly grab an E-450-based laptop for not much more with more storage, portability, and a display inherently included. Maybe you can argue that these form factors aren’t as mass-produced (and therefore don’t have economies of scale in their favor) as laptops, or that this is meant for a completely different usage pattern, but it could well be a real consideration when you’re shopping in this price bracket.

      • Deanjo
      • 8 years ago

      The real consideration is the primary use of a machine. Since a laptop and mini pc are aimed at very different uses any comparison between the two is really without value.

    • Duck
    • 8 years ago

    I am imagining custom mounting it with [url=http://img1.topfreebiz.com/o2010-7/7/Extrusion-Heat-Sink-713330866.jpg<]extruded aluminium heatsink[/url<]. Do want =)

    • Anonymous Coward
    • 8 years ago

    Their usage of a fan is highly problematic.

    • Bensam123
    • 8 years ago

    Zotac continues to impress with small things just the same way Shuttle used to back in the day. You couldn’t build a mini-itx computer for anywhere close to this size.

    I really think Zotac mini-itx boards should be a part of motherboard roundups all the time for their relevant chipset. There is no reason to hold them back and do special mini-reviews.

    Only gripe is some of the reviews on Newegg aren’t so positive when it comes to users experience with their mini-itx motherboards. Biased or not, I’m not sure as they do have what looks like winning combinations of hardware.

    • paulWTAMU
    • 8 years ago

    This is really, really tempting as a PC for my snake building. I don’t need a ton of power, but being able to run basic office apps on a PC out there would be nice. Right now I’m recording weights and clutches on paper then taking them back inside to put into excel.

      • NeelyCam
      • 8 years ago

      Wouldn’t a laptop work better? You know, with a display…?

    • d0g_p00p
    • 8 years ago

    This looks perfect for a new XBMC build.

    • Deanjo
    • 8 years ago

    Now how the hell am I supposed to fit the GTX-680 in that?

      • UberGerbil
      • 8 years ago

      That’s what the VESA mount is for: you hang it on the video card.

    • yogibbear
    • 8 years ago

    Anandtech has a review up:
    [url<]http://www.anandtech.com/show/5738/zotac-zbox-nano-xs-ad11-plus-redefining-the-small-form-factor-pc[/url<]

      • TaBoVilla
      • 8 years ago

      blasphemy! pd: cool review by the way =)

      • Alchemist07
      • 8 years ago

      Wow, they really struggle to say anything good about anything with AMD inside…they didnt even compare it directly with any ATOM based competition?

      bit of a joke…

        • Kurotetsu
        • 8 years ago

        Yeah, the part where he basically says:

        “We really should be comparing this to actual competitors in its price/performance point, but we couldn’t be arsed to do that so…”

        Completely turned me off to the review.

        • NeelyCam
        • 8 years ago

        It would be a joke to compare it with Atoms, because Atoms suck.

        AMD itself has tried to position Brazos as a mainstream (i.e., as a non-netbook) CPU, and the review merely points out that 40nm Brazos cannot compete with the big boys. Brazos’ “good enough” just wasn’t good enough.

        That’s why I have been waiting for the 28nm followup..

      • Duck
      • 8 years ago

      Can’t play back standard def interlaced video properly… I don’t believe it.

        • NeelyCam
        • 8 years ago

        Clearly AMD drivers suck.

    • ssidbroadcast
    • 8 years ago

    How did they get it so small? Did they hire Rick Moranis to shoot a laser at it?

    • Thatguy
    • 8 years ago

    I’ve been considering what my parents will end up with for their next computer. This small size seems perfect. Perhaps in the next few iterations we will see much more powerful hardware.

    • Spotpuff
    • 8 years ago

    What’s that thing taped to the HDMI port?

      • NeelyCam
      • 8 years ago

      That would be a battery. Check one of the other pictures – you can see it’s connected to a port called “BAT1”

    • TO11MTM
    • 8 years ago

    As someone who Put a Mini-ITX board inside a Dreamcast (190mm x 195mm x 75mm ~= 7.5″ x 7.7″ x 2.95″, and that’s a generous measurement given the curving on the edges,) I can say that they would indeed have a hard time fitting a 2.5″ HDD/SSD in there.

    • Machupo
    • 8 years ago

    Got a pic of the back of the board to go with that de-heatsinked pic of the top?

      • Tuanies
      • 8 years ago

      We have the entire press kit album on our Facebook [url<]https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150924269972067.521495.98849277066&type=1[/url<] -Tuan @ ZOTAC

        • flip-mode
        • 8 years ago

        Got a couple units for TechReport giveaway? 😀

        • Forge
        • 8 years ago

        Nice to see you again, Tuna, and nicer to see you at TR. Feel free to hang out more often.

        Say hi to Zenith for me, if you see him.

          • Tuanies
          • 8 years ago

          Zenith is still around.

          You can come by IRC, we don’t bite.

          -Tuan

          • MadManOriginal
          • 8 years ago

          You called him Tuna, huhuh.

    • UberGerbil
    • 8 years ago

    Do they include a small mirror so I can bounce the remote IR signals to it when it’s hanging on the back of the display?

      • Tuanies
      • 8 years ago

      We include a USB IR receiver for mounted installations.

      -Tuan @ ZOTAC

        • ew
        • 8 years ago

        Up-vote for proactively answering customer questions!

        • UberGerbil
        • 8 years ago

        Outstanding response to what may have been taken as a rather snide comment. I almost suggested that an extender of that sort would be useful for lots of HTPC setups (a machine this small could be tucked in all sorts of places) but I expected to have to buy it separately. That’s excellent.

          • Tuanies
          • 8 years ago

          I was tempted but held back. You can pick up your own mirror at IKEA though, if you know, that’s your thing.

          -Tuan @ ZOTAC

            • stupido
            • 8 years ago

            Actually why don’t you use zigbee based remote? This IR thing though old & trusty, can not compete with zigbee-like setup…

            actually I’m curious why nobody picks this tech for home usage?

            • Tuanies
            • 8 years ago

            IR is still the most popular remote interface. You can program universal remotes to work with it easily, ie Harmony, Control 4, etc… Also XBMC / OpenELEC supports it natively.

            • Zoomer
            • 8 years ago

            Not to mention more expensive.

        • paulWTAMU
        • 8 years ago

        hey wait, you work for ZOTAC? Awesome to see a company rep answering questions on these forums. Thanks.

          • Tuanies
          • 8 years ago

          A long time ago (back in ’04-05ish) I wrote for TR. Nowadays I stop by to check up on my launches to make sure everything goes well and all questions are answered :).

          -Tuan @ ZOTAC

    • jdaven
    • 8 years ago

    So are we at the point yet where we can honestly say that Brazos has replaced Atom in the nettop/book market (even if it is a dying market).

    • PrincipalSkinner
    • 8 years ago

    But I want an ultratop!

    • dpaus
    • 8 years ago

    This will be awesome for embedded systems in commercial or light industrial settings.

      • NeelyCam
      • 8 years ago

      There are smaller, lower-power and passively cooled solutions for those.

        • UberGerbil
        • 8 years ago

        Yes, and most of them don’t need the added GPU oomph you get from the AMD APUs, either. For things like Point of Service applications (even graphical ones) not much is needed — even old P4-era single-GHz Celerons with IGPs were adequate. And a lot of industrial applications don’t have any graphical output at all.

          • Deanjo
          • 8 years ago

          [quote<]even old P4-era single-GHz Celerons with IGPs were adequate. [/quote<] Downside it that those old P4's and celerons are power hogs (comparatively speaking) , take up a lot of room and are not easily relocated.

            • UberGerbil
            • 8 years ago

            You’d be surprised. I saw 766MHz Celerons from that era crammed into touch PoS systems like [url=http://www.posiflexusa.com/productimg/TP8315_rside_300.jpg<]this[/url<]. They may have had a noisy fan and cooked themselves to death eventually, but they were reasonably compact (though they were often bolted down so they weren't easily relocated anyway)

          • shank15217
          • 8 years ago

          I beg to differ, have you seen a modern casino machine?

            • UberGerbil
            • 8 years ago

            The ones that have video games that look like what I saw in arcades 20 years ago?

            And I did say “most.” As big as casino gaming may be, it pales next to retail, restaurants, self-service kiosks, and other “commercial or light industrial” uses.

    • NeelyCam
    • 8 years ago

    This is pretty much perfect. The noise from the cooler could be an issue.

    If only they had a 28nm shrink of Brazos in it. Or one of them 22nm Atoms. Maybe convection cooling would be enough..

      • stmok
      • 8 years ago

      [quote<]If only they had a 28nm shrink of Brazos in it. Or one of them 22nm Atoms.[/quote<] Brazos won't be in 28nm. It will be replaced instead. This is based on what I know for 2013... [b<][u<]2013: Intel's "Valley View" vs AMD's "Kabini" APU[/u<][/b<] * Both sides will have up to 4 core versions. * Intel isn't going to change Atom's architecture with Valley View. (It will still be in-order execution). vs * AMD is re-doing theirs by replacing Bobcat cores with the newer Jaguar cores in Kabini. * Valley View's IGP will be based on Ivy Bridge's IGP. vs * Kabini's IGP will be based on Graphics Core Next (GCN). * Valley View will be using Intel's 22nm "3D transistor" manufacturing process. vs * Kabini will be manufactured in 28nm Bulk process. (TSMC again?) For the quad-core version of Valley View, it'll be clocked up to 1.9Ghz while staying within their 10W TDP spec. Its neutered version of Ivy Bridge IGP will clocked up to 667MHz. Intel isn't going to switch their Atom from in-order to out-of-order execution until they get their 14nm manufacturing process matured.

        • NeelyCam
        • 8 years ago

        [quote<]Intel isn't going to switch their Atom from in-order to out-of-order execution until they get their 14nm manufacturing process matured.[/quote<] Link? Because all I've heard so far is that at 22nm Intel will switch to Silvermont core in Atoms: [url<]http://www.anandtech.com/show/4333/intels-silvermont-a-new-atom-architecture[/url<] [url<]http://www.tomshardware.com/news/atom-cpu-silvermont-soc-22nm,12740.html[/url<]

      • Bensam123
      • 8 years ago

      Too bad they don’t just turn the case itself into a giant heatsink and attach it to the processor… :O

      I marvel at even myself some days.

    • Walkintarget
    • 8 years ago

    Wow, that is impressively small ! Geoff has an excellent point on the tiny HS/F, and I’d say it will be somewhat tricky to find a comparable replacement for it when it does die an early death.

      • axeman
      • 8 years ago

      Yeah, it would be better if they just mounted a huge chunk of metal on there and cooled it purely with convection. Active cooling with tiny fans usually sucks, because they don’t tend to live long. That said, most notebooks use a smallish blower, and notebook makers seem to be able to find units that work reliably, usually – noisy fan is a common problem on the ThinkPad T500.

        • jensend
        • 8 years ago

        They [url=https://techreport.com/discussions.x/20854<]did a passive Brazos board a year ago[/url<], but I sure wish passively cooled systems would take off a little more. I like SFF, but as you keep shrinking things you get diminishing returns from the space savings and you get more inconveniences. My desktops are in a fairly high-dust environment and tiny fans get noisy real fast.

          • Farting Bob
          • 8 years ago

          I own a passively cooled e-350 board for my HTPC, atlhough its in a full sized case with a 120mm fan in my cupboard. Cooling it completely passively would still result in pretty high temperatures, although with a specially designed case like this you could make the case itself part of the heatsink. Im guessing they tried passive options and it just didnt work out well enough, maybe in a die shrink’s time.

          • Anonymous Coward
          • 8 years ago

          Shuttle makes passive Atom systems.

        • yogibbear
        • 8 years ago

        If a ‘huge chunk of metal’ wasn’t enough then I would be OK with making the whole unit slightly larger to accomodate a MASSIVE fan than could have some modulation on it rather than the small blower and then release some nice marketing campaign showing the noise difference between the massive fan and the slightly larger case requirement vs. a smaller blower in this unit.

      • JustAnEngineer
      • 8 years ago

      The Mac Mini takes up 3.4 times as much volume.

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