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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  • apexjr - Wednesday, April 11, 2012 - link

    Can I attach a disk shelf to this thing via eSata port multiplier? Reply
  • TerdFerguson - Wednesday, April 11, 2012 - link

    The sweet spot, IMHO, was the ATOM/ION net-top, which at least one vendor managed to bring in under the $200 mark. Sadly, they were only available for an awfully brief time and haven't seen fitting replacements. Everything since has offered half the performance for twice the price. Reply
  • Kakumei - Wednesday, April 11, 2012 - link

    I believe you are mistaken. While there are/were completed dual-core ATOM/ION nettops, by the vendor hitting under the $200 mark I believe you mean the single-core Atom 230-contained Acer Revo 1600's that were priced at $199.99. The Atom 330 models were priced $100 more ($299.99). The ION2 came with a very slightly more powerful D510, but it wasn't worth writing home about. Either way, the CPU performance certainly wasn't twice as good, let alone as good, as the AMD E-350/E-450. The Graphic performance is superior to ION and ION2 systems as well... (Read an anandtech review).

    That said, ION nettops were really the only game in town for the form factor at the time. I have a Revo 1600 in my house, though now I end up using my C-60 netbook at friend's quite often. Seeing the further reduction in form factor from this Nano XS AD11 box is exciting. Crossing my fingers that the next gen is as great a leap.
    Reply
  • Matias - Thursday, April 12, 2012 - link

    ATOM+ION was slower than Brazos, I had it before. Reply
  • MySchizoBuddy - Wednesday, April 11, 2012 - link

    Should have waited for Trinity Reply
  • redisnidma - Wednesday, April 11, 2012 - link

    I guess what the results would have been if an Atom processor was used instead, because according to Ganesh, if the Zacate APU performed bad, then Atom would have been total crap... :/ Reply
  • TerdFerguson - Wednesday, April 11, 2012 - link

    The better Atom machines had NVidia ION chipsets w/ video support. Reply
  • ganeshts - Wednesday, April 11, 2012 - link

    Yes, it would have been real bad! I have never been a big fan of Atom-based PCs.. but, given the available feature set, I am sure there is a market somewhere for the capabilities.. Whether the target market is happy with the purchase of the PC after extended use is a different story altogether. Reply
  • jabber - Thursday, April 12, 2012 - link

    I rolled out about a dozen Asrock Ion Atom boxes for business/office use a couple of years ago.

    They are all still trucking along fine and the users still love them.

    We had just one user who is a bit of a social media guru who really pushes his hard (well 20+ browser tabs open etc.) so we recently upped to a (slightly better) 7200rpm HDD and 4GB of ram. We also OC'd his box to 1.8GHz (every little helps) and he is still happy too.
    Reply
  • 457R4LDR34DKN07 - Wednesday, April 11, 2012 - link

    does the remote have mouse cursor control? Reply

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