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.