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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  • dealcorn - Wednesday, April 11, 2012 - link

    The form factor has appeal and will increase sales because it is cute. However, the relevant, missing comparative data point should be Intel's dn2800mt which provides a lower cost, more efficient alternative to the Atom Ion boards of old. Reply
  • markq - Wednesday, April 11, 2012 - link

    This machine is directly comparable to an atom based nettop. Why were the performance numbers not compared to an atom machine? My wife curently has an atom based unit and I would like to be able to determine if this is a suitable replacement for it. Reply
  • Matias - Thursday, April 12, 2012 - link

    I had an ID11 before the AD10, and the E350 is way better than the 510+ION for video playback, and CPU is a little faster. There are other reviews that compare them. Reply
  • Spunjji - Thursday, April 12, 2012 - link

    Because that would make Brazos look good. ;) Reply
  • msroadkill612 - Wednesday, April 11, 2012 - link

    not my cup of tea - always a big price for such excessive miniaturisation

    am interested in brazos tho

    a review of a brazos mini itx board would be interesting to see what problems go away - the review judges the barazos package based on a sample of one

    no mention of memory used - i hear 1600~ ram helps heaps on llanos anyway - cos it is used by the gpu also

    not surprised by fan noise in such a small package

    in short - we should reserve our judgement & hunt up other brazos reviews

    some of the flaws dont sound right - the dropped frames e.g

    power numbers v impressive

    Idle 14.1 W
    Prime95 + Furmark (Full loading) 31.4 W
    1080p24 MKV Playback using DXVA 24.4 W

    as a thin client on a cloud - a lot for the boss to like - a big cost can be aircon w/ all those hot overpowered PCs pumping heat into the office in summer

    imagine 40nm brazos at 32nm (now running smoothly for amd) or 28 nm, (next node for their now 40nm gpuS) tweaked a bit
    Reply
  • Tralalak - Thursday, April 12, 2012 - link

    W will waiting to ZOTAC ZBOX nano VD-series with VIA QuadCore procesor and all-in-one chipset VIA VX11 MSP with DirectX11 VIA Chrome 645 IGP. Reply
  • R3MF - Thursday, April 12, 2012 - link

    i like, i really do, but i will put cash on the table when Zotac show me a model sporting an AMD Trinity Fusion APU........... Reply
  • adityanag - Thursday, April 12, 2012 - link

    The pictures are pretty poor (not the internal ones in the gallery, those are OK). It looks like you took them with a phone. I'm not suggesting that you need to get a $5000 camera, but at least something that is in focus?

    Not trying to be too negative or anything, rather liked the review, and that's why I wish the pictures were better.
    Reply
  • adityanag - Thursday, April 12, 2012 - link

    I saw another comment that explained why the pictures were poor, so I take it back.. a little... even pictures shot in a hurry should be focused! Reply
  • NerdMan - Friday, April 13, 2012 - link

    Agreed.

    A 1st rate site should definitely have quality photos, no matter how quickly the review is done!

    I loved AnandTech back in its heyday, but it's fast becoming a 2nd rate review site.
    Reply

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