Zotac updates Zbox Nano with Brazos 2.0

We loved the Zotac Zbox Nano AD10 when we reviewed it last year. Into a chassis small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, the AD10 packs a Zacate-based E-350 APU, USB 3.0, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Gigabit Ethernet, among other modern conveniences. It’s our favorite barebones mini PC—or at least it was. Zotac has updated the Nano with a new model, the AD12, based on AMD’s second-generation Brazos platform.

The second coming is just as cute as the original…

 

Probably because it uses the same basic chassis. However, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The 5" x 5" x 1.8" box is tiny, and it comes with VESA-compatible bracket that allows for easy mounting on the back of some LCDs or anywhere else you can drive four screws. Inside, there’s enough room for a 2.5" hard drive and a single SO-DIMM. You can add your own, because the Nano comes in barebones and Plus flavors. The latter is equipped with 2GB of RAM and a 320GB hard drive.

Otherwise, the two variants are identical. Both have an AMD E2-1800 APU, whose dual Bobcat cores are clocked at 1.7GHz, just 100MHz faster than the old E-350. The integrated GPU has received a speed bump, as well. Dubbed the Radeon HD 7340, this graphics component has a 523MHz base speed and the ability to ramp up to 680MHz in turbo mode. The old E-350’s Radeon HD 6310 is locked at 500MHz, so it’s not quite as exotic. The underlying APU silicon appears to be identical, though.

While the old Zbox has to rely on an auxiliary NEC controller to supply SuperSpeed USB ports, the new model has native support thanks to an updated AMD platform hub. Zotac’s spec sheet doesn’t list a model number for the chip, but I suspect it’s the A68. The AD12 also has some special sauce for its USB 2.0 ports, which are capable of supplying up to 1.5A to quick-charging devices.

Although the press release doesn’t provide availability or pricing details, we’d be surprised if the barebones AD12 listed for more than the AD10’s $270 initial asking price. The old model is down to $217 right now, so it’s still a solid deal considering the similarities. Now, if only there were a passively cooled version.

Comments closed
    • JazJon
    • 7 years ago

    I don’t mind a slightly thicker nano version of a Zbox.
    This new ZBox Nano AD12 looks interesting if it cuts it for what I need.
    [url<]http://www.zotacusa.com/zbox-nano-ad12.html[/url<] I tried the ZBox ID82, but it's HD 3000 graphics wasn't good enough for Ceton Infinitv USB cablecard tuner. (pixalation, and audio pauses) Tuner worked fine on a regular desktop with basic nvidia card How is the AMD E2-1800 APU 1.7 GHz Dual-Core CPU compared to the Intel Core i3 2330M 2.2 GHz Dual-Core of the Zbox ID82? I know Ghz numbers don't always add up to true performance when comparing AMD to Intel. Is the AMD Radeon™ HD 7340 much more powerful than the intel HD 3000? (and likely to work smoother with Ceton?) Do you know if the eSATA port is Port Multiplier aware? Also what USB 3.0 controller chip set is used in the AD12? (says something about AMD hub above) Here's why I ask. Not All USB 3.0 Implementations Are Created Equal [url<]http://tomshardware.com/reviews/nec-controller-usb-3-pd720200,2682.html[/url<] Many different USB 3.0 Firmware, Drivers and Controller Firmwares [url<]http://forum.mediasonic.ca/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=519[/url<] Alex from stablebit.com said the Etron was the most stable in his tests The AD12 might be good, but it sounds like the next generation Ivy Bridge based Zbox is coming out soon as well: [url<]http://forums.vr-zone.com/hardware-depot/2127403-zotac-zbox-id82-most-powerful-mini-pc-yet-2.html[/url<]

    • NeelyCam
    • 7 years ago

    Brazos 2.0..? More like Brazos 1.2

    This is a waste of time. Where are the 28nm Brazos followups?!?

      • MadManOriginal
      • 7 years ago

      [url<]http://i114.photobucket.com/albums/n256/Jem_1/permanent/6519dfdb.jpg[/url<]

    • liquidsquid
    • 7 years ago

    Dayum, price is finally right on the original to use it for a dedicated box to log weather data without needing to use my main box for it. After vacation… if there are any left.

    • gamoniac
    • 7 years ago

    I like the two USB port added on the front, compared to the old AD10 model. The old AD-10 runs quite hot and crashes on me about once a week quite consistently (It might be time to download any new drivers from Zotac web site, again). I do wish they make the case with metal cover for better heat dissipation as Bauxite mentioned in his post below.

      • Deanjo
      • 7 years ago

      We’ve got a few of those going. Never had to reboot it except for system updates. Otherwise they go 24/7 for weeks without a hitch.

        • gamoniac
        • 7 years ago

        Hey… why did I get thumbed down for sharing my experience? Perhaps I should be happy with my purchase just because others have no problem with theirs? Bah…

        Edit: my comment was not necessarily directed at Deanjo. It’s just a comment 😐

    • Shouefref
    • 7 years ago

    What kind of OS does this thing run?
    Could you install it to surf the internet and answer your e-mails?
    In other words: could you use this as kind of a small internetbox next to your big desktop work horse?

      • Saribro
      • 7 years ago

      It’s a standard PC, just smaller.

      • Deanjo
      • 7 years ago

      [quote<]What kind of OS does this thing run?[/quote<] Windows or linux should be fine (although you will have to run the AMD graphics blobs in linux to get satisfactory performance for the time being). [quote<]Could you install it to surf the internet and answer your e-mails?[/quote<] Of course, even a 10 year old system can do that.

      • Shouefref
      • 7 years ago

      I just wondered whether this was some awkward unique system with its own OS, only usefull as a TV add-on to play movies and such things.
      But if it’s a standard pc, it’s a nice little fellow.

        • UberGerbil
        • 7 years ago

        If you’re unfamiliar, you should read the TR review of the old one (first link in the story). This is exactly the same, other than the updated hardware (and possibly price).

      • Shouefref
      • 7 years ago

      There are enough connections for a very decent screen, keyboard, mouse, external hd, usb-sticks, and there’s the ethernet port, whcih makes it sometime you can connect somewhere, use to do the e-mail and suffering, and then disconnect it, and connect it again to in- and out-apparatus and go on with all necessary e-mail and other communications material at hand.
      Having the possibility to run normal pc OS’s (Ubuntu, Windows, whatever) I think this is a better alternative then tablet’s, especially than iPad’s.

        • Deanjo
        • 7 years ago

        Pretty sure the ipad and zbox’s serve entirely different purposes.

    • dpaus
    • 7 years ago

    We’ve deployed a bunch of these into fire halls to drive large-screen map displays on wall-mount HDTVs. So far, zero issues, and the performance has been great.

      • Deanjo
      • 7 years ago

      We have done something simular with some of our clients. We use them for displaying a live dispatch board.

      So far no problems.

        • hiro_pro
        • 7 years ago

        We were looking at using these for the same type of display setup for meetings. We needed something to push some large screen 1080p product displays. But once I started pricing everything we found we could pick up 15” i3 laptops for less than $400. We hid the laptops under the display. Not having to buy a windows license was or hard drive (depending on model) saved us a ton. Based on my limited research the laptop had all around better specs too.

          • demani
          • 7 years ago

          That’s the funny thing- for a lot of people a cheap laptop is just as good as a miniPC, plus it often includes other things like an Express card (expandable), battery (built in UPS), plus the general portability factor (configure at your desk, then install on site), and even optical drives (hey, sometimes you just gotta Redbox). Plus this has only one SO-DIMM slot, and many laptops have two.

          On the otherhand, this is super tiny, and can be attached easily. Different strokes, but cheap laptops do have their uses, crappy screens and all.

          One question: can this handle Netflix HD streaming at 1920×1080? I was disappointed to see the E-350 unable to manage that (from Netflix not supporting GPU acceleration I believe).

            • Deanjo
            • 7 years ago

            NetflixHD will not be smooth on this unit due to the lack of acceleration support on the AMD APU’s in Silverlight. I understand that Netflix will soon be switching over to HTML5 (since silverlight is now deprecated) on even the PC’s and then you could have accelerated decoding.

            As far as the “cheap laptop” goes, not to many cheap ones carry Expresscard capability any more. Still while you can do a lot of the stuff with a laptop as well, it still means hooking and unhooking of cables and not really being able to use your laptop for much else during those hooked up periods.

      • nciaootu
      • 7 years ago
        • Srsly_Bro
        • 7 years ago

        I think you’re on the wrong site.

          • dpaus
          • 7 years ago

          Or maybe he thinks firefighters would be interested in a ‘sugarmommy’

          And I think he’d be right….

    • NeelyCam
    • 7 years ago

    [quote<]Now, if only there were a passively cooled version.[/quote<] That's kind of impossible in this form factor because of the high power consumption. Frist

      • yogibbear
      • 7 years ago

      I’ll frist you!

      • raddude9
      • 7 years ago

      you think 13 watts is “high power consumption”???

      The previous version of this box had some very impressively low power consumption figures:
      [url<]http://hothardware.com/Reviews/Zotac-ZBOX-Nano-AD10-Plus-U-Mini-PC/?page=7[/url<] 13 watts idle and 26 watts under full load is hard to beat for any net-top.

        • moose17145
        • 7 years ago

        True… those numbers might be very low compared to a regular desktop, or even a laptop. But when you have that crammed inside something as tiny as this thing is it is actually quite high. Especially if you want to passively cool it. For what this little guy is capable of i would say its power consumption is quite reasonable. But still… much too high to implement a passively cooled solution without this poor thing melting itself.

          • NeelyCam
          • 7 years ago

          Ivy Bridge 17W is capable of about 2x what this guy does. That Fit-PC Intense that Bauxite linked looks pretty awesome

            • moose17145
            • 7 years ago

            True, IB is close to this thing in terms of power consumption… but those 17 watts are for only a single component. That does not include all the other components that have to be paired with IB to make her work. Where as the power consumption of this thing was for the entire system. I suspect that a system built on IB in this form factor would consume roughly twice as much power for the entire system. But also would be capable of twice as much / run twice as fast, while costing more.

            And indeed those Fit-PC’s look interesting. But as someone already mentioned they are also 3x the price for the higher end model. And I can see how they got away with passive cooling on those things. They turned their entire case/chassis into a heat sink. I would be interested in seeing how hot they run and what overall power consumption for those little guys are.

            • NeelyCam
            • 7 years ago

            [quote<]True, IB is close to this thing in terms of power consumption... but those 17 watts are for only a single component. That does not include all the other components that have to be paired with IB to make her work. [/quote<] Similarly, the E2-1800 alone has a TDP of 18W; both CPUs need other components around them. Full-load power consumptions for the two are likely to be rather similar (and, of course, task energy on IvyBridge is significantly lower due to higher performance). FitPC commands a premium for having the absolutely highest performance in a tiny, passively-cooled package. Cheaper options are certainly available with both AMD and Intel internals, with and without fans. I have my eyes on ASRock Vision HT or X series systems... 35W IvyBridge with a quiet fan (and Radeon graphics on X-series). Here's a pretty good review: [url<]http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/vision-ht-321b-jbc700-q180,3231.html[/url<]

            • raddude9
            • 7 years ago

            For $1,156, that 17W Ivy bridge based “Fit-PC Intense” would want to be a lot more than 2x more capable. I’m not sure if it’s worth it to pay that premium over a machine with a barely audible fan. And are there any reviews showing what the total system consumption looks like?

            • NeelyCam
            • 7 years ago

            On the Fit-PC page, it says “Power 10-26W”. I assume 26W is full-load

            [url<]http://www.fit-pc.com/web/fit-pc/intensepc/#techinfo[/url<] This guy says it idles at 8W: [url<]http://www.andersdx.com/blog/intense-pc.aspx[/url<] But you're right; that's a helluva premium for a tiny passive setup. This looks like a more reasonable option (with a "barely audible fan"): [url<]http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16856158032[/url<]

            • raddude9
            • 7 years ago

            I’m nit-picking here but:
            [quote<]I assume 26W is full-load[/quote<] Assume away, but maybe the manufacturer only tested under full CPU load, not CPU & GPU, you know, to make it look good. [quote<]This guy says it idles at 8W:[/quote<] Read more carefully, no he didn't. He is actually quoting the companies manufacturing partners. Who knows what their definition of idle means. It still looks good though, I just want to see a thorough review.... anybody? The ASRock looks nice, a bit of a clone of the old mac mini of course. Toms has a review/comparison of a slightly faster version with the slightly slower previous version of the ZBox: [url<]http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/vision-ht-321b-jbc700-q180,3231.html[/url<]

      • sweatshopking
      • 7 years ago

      i want it passive as well. make is slightly larger, and a bigger cooler.

      Nice work on the first!

        • NeelyCam
        • 7 years ago

        Thanks! Jet lag woke me up at 3am; helps with the first game

      • Bauxite
      • 7 years ago

      Completely wrong, a heatsink integrated to use the case would work quite well.

      I have an itx sized case (~double this in flat frame surface area) that has no problems with a desktop 65W cpu [b<]and[/b<] a passive gpu inside to dump even more heat. The [i<]highest[/i<] spec brazos is 18W for cpu+gpu, and a pint sized motherboard like that would be a pittance, I suspect they use the mobile version anyways.

        • Bauxite
        • 7 years ago

        For those that doubt small-but-passive exists, look at the various models here:

        [url<]http://www.fit-pc.com/web/[/url<]

          • NeelyCam
          • 7 years ago

          I love it. I’d like to see reviews, though, to make sure the cooling is sufficient to keep the CPU from throttling all the time. Also, FacePlate with USB3.0 would be much more useful, for those USB3.0 flash drives etc.

          Certainly a cool option, but I think I’ll still go with ASRock, that comes with a bluray player, room for two 2.5″ SSD/HDDs, USB3 ports in the front etc.

          • Farting Bob
          • 7 years ago

          They are far more expensive though. Starts at $400 plus shipping and tax for a 1.4Ghz single core celeron with no HDD or RAM and ramps up to over $1100 for the high end one which has specs not too different from this Zotac nano (but with a Intel CPU).

          I like passive systems, but not enough to pay 3 times as much for one.

            • NeelyCam
            • 7 years ago

            “Specs not too different”?? Kidding, right? Comparing Brazos to Ivy Bridge is like comparing CortexA9 to PhenomII

            • Bauxite
            • 7 years ago

            These are more expensive because they are industrial with many more uses and expansion (full blown pci-e slots w/ quad gig-e for example) also likely much lower volume production. “Embedded x86” is a usually magic word for “double the price” even though some of them are barely more than laptops with no display 🙂

            The zotac as a more mainstream system literally just needs a different case with a heatsink integrated into it and some fins on the outside, they could keep the internal form factor the same.

          • Anonymous Coward
          • 7 years ago

          That’s impressive looking. I’m definitely going to have to look into those (though I would prefer a more square shape).

          Another option, perhaps not so small, is offered by: [url<]http://www.tranquilpc.co.uk/[/url<]

        • NeelyCam
        • 7 years ago

        I know. I just got back from the trip; I felt like I should do some light trolling.

        FWIW, Foxconn is selling some passively-cooled Brazos miniPC boxes – pretty easy to find on Newegg. I’m actually looking for a low-end PC to stick in the guestroom/minioffice. I was thinking about those foxconn ones, but now that ASRock Vision has IvyBridge, I thinnk I’ll get one of those for the HT room and move the current HTPC (Clarkdale passive-cooled rig) to the guestroom.

        Who knows, maybe I’ll get the Vision X with mobile Radeon in it, so I could finally play Skyrim TWIMTBP

          • dpaus
          • 7 years ago

          [quote<]I just got back from the trip; I felt like I should do some lght trolling[/quote<] Your vacation has left you out of shape. Maybe you should do some exercises before you try to play with the big boys again. (no, ssk, that not about you)

            • NeelyCam
            • 7 years ago

            Consider this my exercise. I’ll do some more over the weekend – hopefully I’ll be in good shape come Monday.. and hopefully there will be something good to troll on

      • dragmor
      • 7 years ago

      Have a look at the Shuttle XS35 series. The GTA V3 has an Atom 2700 with Radeon 7410 in a completely passive unit.

      I’m running the older XS35GT with ION2 unit as my main PC. Picked it up for $300 AU with Win7Pro, 2GB, 500GB, DVD burner. Its fine for a normal desktop and has no problems even when running 2560×1400 for a 27″ dell.

        • Anonymous Coward
        • 7 years ago

        I like those shuttles. Could use two disk bays and/or some eSATA.

        But anyway this Zotac is arguably not the same form factor.

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