Small Form Factor (SFF) PCs are becoming quite popular as the processors become more and more power efficient. Over the last few years, we have had a slew of budget SFF PCs. We have a number of powerful units targeting the mid-range and high-end markets such as the CoreHT and the Vision 3D series from ASRock. However, the sales volume lies in the budget lineups. Companies like Asus, ASRock, Sapphire and Zotac have been playing in this segment of the market. The trend started with pure Atom based nettops. The ION-based nettops brought HD video decoding and limited gaming capabilities to the budget lineups. AMD joined the game late with their AMD Fusion-based Brazos offerings early last year. Almost all of these offerings come to the consumer in the form of mini-ITX boards.

Today, Zotac is launching their AMD E-450 based custom sized solution, the ZBOX Nano XS AD11 Plus. The motherboard of the unit measures 10 cm x 10 cm, which is smaller than the nano-ITX (12 cm x 12 cm) and just slightly bigger than the pico-ITX form factor (10 cm x 7.2 cm). The system comes in at 10.6 cm x 10.6 cm x 3.7 cm, and is definitely one of the smallest machines we have reviewed. One of the biggest impediments to the miniaturization of PCs is the presence of a 2.5" drive in the system. The advent of mSATA and the increasing number of mSATA SSDs in the market provides an opportunity for system builders to drive down the size and volume of their PCs. Zotac has indeed done this with the ZBOX Nano XS AD11 Plus. Instead of a 2.5" hard drive common in other budget SFF PCs, the unit comes with a 64 GB mSATA SSD.

The picture below shows the size of the ZBOX when compared with an ASRock Vision 3D mini-ITX motherboard based PC. The PC is indeed quite small and it even fits in one's palms

The table below summarizes the specifications of the ZBOX Nano XS AD11 Plus.

Zotac ZBOX Nano XS AD11 Plus Specifications
Processor AMD E-450
(2 x 1.65 GHz Bobcat cores, 1 MB L2, 40nm, 18 W)
Chipset AMD A50M (Hudson-M1)
Memory 1 x 2 GB SO-DIMM Samsung DDR3-1333 (Maximum 1 x 4 GB) (1.6 GB Available to CPU)
Graphics AMD Radeon HD 6320
(80 Stream Processors, 508 MHz core clock (Turbo to 600 MHz), 384 MB Available to GPU)
Primary Drive(s) Kingston SSDNow mS100 SMS100S2/64G mSATA 64GB SATA II SSD
Networking 150 Mbps Realtek RTL8188CU Wireless LAN 802.11n USB 2.0 Network Adapter (Bundled)
Realtek PCIe Gigabit Ethernet
Audio Realtek 2-channel HD Audio
Optical SPDIF (with mini-SPDIF Adaptor)
Headphone and mic jacks
Front Side Power button
IR Receiver
MMC/SD/SDHC/MS/MS Pro/SDXC Card Reader
eSATA / USB 2.0 Combo Port
Headphone / optical SPDIF adaptor and mic jacks
Right Side Exhaust vent
Kensington lock
Left Side Exhaust vent
Rear Side AC Adaptor input
HDMI 1.4a compatible port
2 x USB 3.0
1 x GbE LAN
2 x USB 2.0
Operating System Barebones (Shipping) / Reviewed with Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit SP1
Dimensions 106mm x 106mm x 37mm
Pricing $359.99 MSRP

The unit is also VESA mountable on the back of a LCD TV or monitor. In the rest of the review, I will first talk about the unboxing and setup impressions, followed by general performance metrics. A small PC like the ZBOX Nano XS AD11 Plus could easily find a role as a dedicated media playback HTPC, and we will cover some HTPC aspects before providing our final verdict.

Unboxing and Setup Impressions
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  • ganeshts - Wednesday, April 11, 2012 - link

    Nope, it is a standard MCE IR remote, similar to what was bundled with the Vision 3D and the CoreHT 252B.

    You will need a separate keyboard / mouse if you wish to do even basic browsing or navigation outside of a 10-ft UI (like XBMC)
    Reply
  • ectoplasmosis - Wednesday, April 11, 2012 - link

    The photography in this article is truly shocking. Reply
  • Matias - Wednesday, April 11, 2012 - link

    I also noted the very poor pictures! What the hell?? Reply
  • ganeshts - Wednesday, April 11, 2012 - link

    I apologize for the poor pictures. We were running late for the NDA lift [ in fact, we missed it by a good 9 hours :( ], and had to make do with whatever I could snap in a hurry yesterday evening. Reply
  • adityanag - Thursday, April 12, 2012 - link

    Ah I just posted a comment to this.. Well, nevermind what I said previously, these things happen :) Reply
  • einstein4pres - Thursday, April 12, 2012 - link

    They appear to be taken with a Nikon P&S. I was curious, so I checked the exif info on the shot of the box that has an incredible amount of barrel distortion.

    I suggest taking the shot in the middle of your zoom range, which should help eliminate the barrel distortion, and increasing the F number (from f2.8 to ~ f8) to increase the depth of field (amount of stuff in focus). You probably need more ambient light, a flash, or a tripod to make this work.
    Reply
  • freedom4556 - Wednesday, April 11, 2012 - link

    Test HD Netflix performance in your HTPC reviews, hell, throw in Hulu Plus and HD Youtube and any other major streaming you can think of. Reason I say this is I have an E-350 based HTPC and Silverlight (Microsoft's technology that powers Netflix) doesn't properly provide hardware acceleration to HD streams coming from Netflix. This results in an unplayable single-digit FPS on my Windows 7 HTPC. Youtube works fine, Adobe's got it figured out, and on the latest drivers too. Don't have Hulu, but still FIX IT MICROSOFT. Grrrr... Reply
  • Musafir_86 - Thursday, April 12, 2012 - link

    -Did you check that you really have Silverlight 5 installed? Windows Update only pushes Silverlight 4 as far as I could see, so you need to download and upgrade manually. Also, AFAIK, only in version 5 it have proper hardware acceleration support.

    Regards,
    -Musafir_86.
    Reply
  • Kakumei - Thursday, April 12, 2012 - link

    microsoft removed true gpu acceleration from their to-do list for silverlight 5.
    You cannot watch netflix hd on netbook cpus, sorry.
    Reply
  • Matias - Thursday, April 12, 2012 - link

    I agree, cant see HD videos on Netflix using the AD10 because of lame Silverlight... Reply

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