Zotac ZBox Nano AD10 Plus Review

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Today we are looking at the latest Zotac Zbox Nano AD10 system, a diminutive, low cost computer, ideal for duties as a general workhorse system and for high definition media playback.

Zotac have experienced successful launches with their previous range of Zbox ‘mini pc’ systems, and the latest NANO AD10 shifts from Intel’s ATOM to the AMD Fusion platform.

zotac NANO Zotac ZBox Nano AD10 Plus Review

The NANO is all about the size, and as the image above shows, it can easily fit into an open palm. It measures 12x12x4 centimeters and has full support for Windows 7 64 bit. At £249 inc vat, it is certainly targeting a wide audience.

For the asking price you get the NANO, which includes:

  • AMD Zacate APU – E350 (HD 6310 graphics) @ 1.6ghz.
  • AMD Hudson Chipset. (2 channel high definition audio support)
  • 802.11 b/g/n, fully qualified BlueTooth V3.0.
  • 2GB DDR3 memory (expandable to 4GB)
  • 320GB 2.5 inch hard drive.
  • remote controller.
  • Windows 7 s32/64 bit drivers.

All you need is to install the Windows operating system and you are ready to rock.

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The Zotac ZBox Nano AD10 Plus is shipped in an attractive green coloured box with a high resolution image of the product on the front. The AMD Vision logo makes an appearance top right, indicating the hardware inside.

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The bundle contains: literature on the product, including a quick start guide and instructions on how to open the chassis for upgrades. A remote controller, wireless antenna, VESA mounting plate, power adapter and cable.

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The bundle includes two batteries which slot into the back of the remote as shown above.

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The remote is an attractive design, and we didn’t experience any issues during the review. If you do experience issues then you might need to change a bios setting – more on this later.

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Zotac supply a plate, which hooks into the underside of the NANO AD10. This allows connection directly to the back of a monitor or television, so you can hide it out of the way. The power supply is small, as the product doesn’t demand a lot of power from the socket.

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The Nano AD10 ships with a protective cover on the top of the chassis, to protect the piano black finish.

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The diminutive NANO is a sleek looking product which has an almost Apple like appearance. There are vents on the side to aid with cooling performance.

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At the front is the power switch, HDD status indicator, WiFi Status Indicator, IR Receiver, 6-in-1 memory card slot, headphone and audio output jack and microphone jack. At the rear is the power connector port, HDMI output, Displayport out, two USB 3.0 ports, Kensington safety lock, GB Ethernet port, two USB 2.0 ports, eSATA port, WiFi antenna connector and underneath, a ventilation area.

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Flipping the product over, we can see four rubber thumbscrews, which are easily removed.

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Zotac have clearly spent time with the chassis design, as the bottom panel is easily removed without a screwdriver. A nice touch, making for easy internal system access.

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There is a single 2GB stick of memory installed, rated at DDR3 10600. This can be replaced with a 4GB DDR3 stick if you want a quick and easy upgrade.

Be aware that due to the size, this product doesn’t ship with a DVD or BluRay drive inside, so you will need to install Windows from either a USB pen drive or optical drive.

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Zotac have included a 320GB Samsung Spinpoint drive – a HM321HI 2.5 unit. This immediately raised a red flag for us, as this is a slow 5,400 rpm model and will hinder overall system performance. We really don’t understand why a company would try to save £5 by not including a faster 7,200 rpm model. Even if they had to reduce capacity to 250GB to compensate for rising costs.

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The VESA mount is a great idea, and it doesn’t require a screwdriver to fit either. Simply slot it into the backplate and you are ready to hide the NANO behind your panel of choice.

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Above, a couple of images of the Nano beside the power supply and remote controller to give an indication of how small it really is.

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When powered up, the Zotac NANO AD10 glows green, from a circular shape in the top of the chassis. Very nice indeed. Incidentally, if this proves annoying, it can be disabled in the bios.

On this page we present some super high resolution images of the product taken with the 24.5MP Nikon D3X camera and 24-70mm ED lens. These will take much longer to open due to the dimensions, especially on slower connections. If you use these pictures on another site or publication, please credit Kitguru.net as the owner/source.

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The American Megatrends UEFI interface is a stripped down configuration which suits the target audience. Many of the main features are included and it is well laid out.

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The green circular backlight can be disabled in the bios, as can the USB 2.0 charge option (when the system is off). The remote controller support may need to be enabled, this can be accessed in the Super IO Configuration menu via the CIR Controller Configuration.

To test the Fusion platform today we have decided to focus on a mixture of real world and synthetic tests. These sections are clearly marked and can be skipped as desired. We also included a couple of game benchmark tests as the AMD APU has onboard graphics capability. We will compare some of the performance sections against an Atom 1.8GHZ D525 processor.

We installed Windows 7 64 bit Enterprise via our USB flash drive.

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All drivers installed perfectly from the supplied disc.

Supplemental Hardware:a
Optical: Asus USB 2.0 BluRay Drive
Monitors: Sharp 50 inch 1080p Aquos LCD TV, LaCie 730 (IQ testing) and Dell U2410
Cameras: Nikon D2X, R1C1 kit, Nikon 24-70mm lens. Secondary: Olympus E-PL1

Comparison processors:
Atom D525 @ 1.8ghz

Software:
Windows 7 64 Bit
SiSoft Sandra
Cinebench R11.5 64 bit
Cyberlink Media Espresso
Cyberlink PowerDVD Ultra V11
PCMark 7
3DMark 11
HQV Benchmark V 2.0
Portal 2
From Dust
Resident Evil 5

Technical Monitoring and Test Equipment:
Thermal Diodes
Raytek Laser Temp Gun 3i LSRC/MT4 Mini Temp
Extech digital sound level meter & SkyTronic DSL 2 Digital Sound Level Meter
Kill A Watt Meter

All results are gained from multiple test runs to ensure any abnormalities are removed before publication.

SiSoftware Sandra (the System ANalyser, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant) is an information & diagnostic utility. It should provide most of the information (including undocumented) you need to know about your hardware, software and other devices whether hardware or software.

Sandra is a (girl’s) name of Greek origin that means “defender”, “helper of mankind”. We think that’s quite fitting.

It works along the lines of other Windows utilities, however it tries to go beyond them and show you more of what’s really going on. Giving the user the ability to draw comparisons at both a high and low-level. You can get information about the CPU, chipset, video adapter, ports, printers, sound card, memory, network, Windows internals, AGP, PCI, PCI-X, PCIe (PCI Express), database, USB, USB2, 1394/Firewire, etc.

Native ports for all major operating systems are available:

  • Windows XP, 2003/R2, Vista, 7, 2008/R2 (x86)
  • Windows XP, 2003/R2, Vista, 7, 2008/R2 (x64)
  • Windows 2003/R2, 2008/R2* (IA64)
  • Windows Mobile 5.x (ARM CE 5.01)
  • Windows Mobile 6.x (ARM CE 5.02)

All major technologies are supported and taken advantage of:

  • SMP – Multi-Processor
  • MC – Multi-Core
  • SMT/HT – Hyper-Threading
  • MMX, SSE, SSE2, SSE3, SSSE3, SSE 4.1, SSE 4.2, AVX, FMA – Multi-Media instructions
  • GPGPU, DirectX, OpenGL – Graphics
  • NUMA – Non-Uniform Memory Access
  • AMD64/EM64T/x64 – 64-bit extensions to x86
  • IA64 – Intel* Itanium 64-bit

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We have tested the Fusion platform before and these results fall in with what we would expect. It generally outperforms the ATOM system although it suffers a little from the single channel memory bandwidth.

PCMark 7 includes 7 PC tests for Windows 7, combining more than 25 individual workloads covering storage, computation, image and video manipulation, web browsing and gaming. Specifically designed to cover the full range of PC hardware from netbooks and tablets to notebooks and desktops, PCMark 7 offers complete PC performance testing for Windows 7 for home and business use.

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The overall score is held back by the poor hard drive performance, with a final score of 941 points. When we reviewed the ATOM powered Arctic Cooling MC001-BD system recently it scored slightly higher (1021 points).

CINEBENCH R11.5 is a real-world cross platform test suite that evaluates your computer’s performance capabilities. CINEBENCH is based on MAXON’s award-winning animation software CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Spider-Man, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia and many more.

CINEBENCH is the perfect tool to compare CPU and graphics performance across various systems and platforms (Windows and Mac OS X). And best of all: It’s completely free.

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The Zotac system scores 0.60, slightly higher than the Atom D525 processor. Neither of these are designed for serious rendering duties however.

3DMark 11 is designed for testing DirectX 11 hardware running on Windows 7 and Windows Vista the benchmark includes six all new benchmark tests that make extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading.

After running the tests 3DMark gives your system a score with larger numbers indicating better performance. Trusted by gamers worldwide to give accurate and unbiased results, 3DMark 11 is the best way to test DirectX 11 under game-like loads.

If you want to learn more about this benchmark, or to buy it yourself, head over to this page.

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We tested the system at the entry preset.

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Not exactly a graphics powerstation, but the system should be capable of some general gaming duties. We will look at this later in the review.

HQV Benchmark 2.0 is an updated version of the original tool and it consists of various video clips and test patterns which are designed to evaluate motion correction, de-interlacing, decoding, noise reduction, detail enhancement and film cadence detection.

There are two versions of the program, standard definition on DVD and high definition on BluRay. As our audience will be concentrating on HD content, so will we.

This has a total of 39 video tests which is increased from 23 in the original and the scoring is also up from a total of 130 to 210. As hardware and software gets more complicated, the software has been tuned to make sure we can thoroughly maximise our analysis.

Read our initial analysis over here.

Zotac Zbox Nano AD10
Dial
4
Dial with static pattern 5
Gray Bars 5
Violin 5
Stadium 2:2 5
Stadium 3:2 5
Horizontal Text Scroll 5
Vertical Text Scroll 5
Transition to 3:2 Lock 5
Transition to 2:2 Lock 0
2:2:2:4 24 FPS DVCAM Video
5
2:3:3:2 24 FPS DVCam Video
5
3:2:3:2:2 24 FOS Vari-Speed
5
5:5 FPS Animation
5
6:4 12 FPS Animation
5
8:7 8 FPS Animation
5
Interlace Chroma Problem (ICP)
5
Chroma Upsampling Error (CUE)
5
Random Noise: Sailboat
5
Random Noise: Flower
5
Random Noise: Sunrise
5
Random Noise: Harbour Night
5
Scrolling Text
3
Roller Coaster
3
Ferris Wheel
3
Bridge Traffic
3
Text Pattern/ Scrolling Text
3
Roller Coaster
3
Ferris Wheel
5
Bridge Traffic
5
Luminance Frequency Bands
5
Chrominance Frequency Bands
5
Vanishing Text 5
Resolution Enhancement
15
Theme Park
5
Driftwood 2
Ferris Wheel
3
Skin Tones
7
Total 179

High quality image output from the Zotac system, scoring 179 points out of a possible 210.

Our good friends at Cyberlink kindly supplied the software for our BluRay and conversion tests.

Cyberlink PowerDVD 11 is one of the finest solutions for the BluRay experience on Windows and we found this software to work perfectly with this chipset. We tested with the new Bluray Disc of ‘The Road’.

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The Fusion platform is strong with Bluray playback, averaging 13 percent over the course of 30 minutes. This is around 5% better than the Atom D525 platform.

Many people using this system will be enjoying Flash related content so we feel it is important to test with some of the more demanding material available freely online.

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Flash HD performance is really good, and is continually improving with driver and software updates. We measured an average of 17 percent utilisation.

CyberLink MediaEspresso 6 is the successor to CyberLink MediaShow Espresso 5.5. With its further optimized CPU/GPU-acceleration, MediaEspresso is an even faster way to convert not only your video but also your music and image files between a wide range of popular formats.

Now you can easily playback and display your favourite movies, songs and photos not just on your on your mobile phone, iPad, PSP, Xbox, or Youtube and Facebook channels but also on the newly launched iPhone 4. Compile, convert and enjoy images and songs on any of your computing devices and enhance your videos with CyberLink’s built-in TrueTheater Technology.

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New and Improved Features

  • Ultra Fast Media Conversion – With support from the Intel Core i-Series processor family, ATI Stream & NVIDIA CUDA, MediaEspresso’s Batch-Conversion function enables multiple files to be transcoded simultaneously.
  • Smart Detect Technology – MediaEspresso 6 automatically detects the type of portable device connected to the PC and selects the best multimedia profile to begin the conversion without the need for user’s intervention.
  • Direct Sync to Portable Devices – Video, audio and image files can be transferred in a few easy steps to mobile phones including those from Acer, BlackBerry, HTC, Samsung, LG, Nokia, Motorola, Sony Ericsson, and Palm, as well as Sony Walkman and PSP devices.
  • Enhanced Video Quality – CyberLink TrueTheater Denoise and Lighting enables the enhancement of video quality through optical noise filters and automatic brightness adjustment.
  • Video, Music and Image File Conversion – Convert not only videos to popular formats such as AVI, MPEG, MKV, H.264/AVC, and FLV at the click of a button, but also images such as JPEG and PNG and music files like WMA, MP3 and M4A.
  • Online Sharing – Conversion to video formats used by popular social networking websites and a direct upload feature means posting videos to Facebook and YouTube has never been easier.

For our testing today we are converting a 3.3GB 720p MKV file (2h:12mins) to Apple Mp4 format for playback on a portable device. This is a common procedure for many people and will give a good indication of system power. We are focusing on the CPU efficiency with this test. The latest version of this program has some optimisations for the newest hardware.

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A final time of 1 hour 6 minutes and 52 seconds is around 4 minutes faster than the Atom D525 system. Due to the slow hard drive speeds however we have recorded faster results from the AMD E350 APU, over 3 minutes faster in fact from the Foxconn NT-A3500 Net Top system.

We noticed throughout testing that the hard drive performance was very sluggish so we decided to break with traditional and run some of our favourite synthetic tests to measure overall performance.

Crystalmark is a useful benchmark to measure theoretical performance levels of hard drives and SSD’s. We are using V3.0 x64.

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The performance results are very poor indeed, with sequential read and write speeds scoring between 80MB/s and 60 MB/s. This would validate our real world findings of a ‘sluggish’ system. 512k performance is very weak indeed.

The ATTO Disk Benchmark performance measurement tool is compatible with Microsoft Windows. Measure your storage systems performance with various transfer sizes and test lengths for reads and writes. Several options are available to customize your performance measurement including queue depth, overlapped I/O and even a comparison mode with the option to run continuously. Use ATTO Disk Benchmark to test any manufacturers RAID controllers, storage controllers, host adapters, hard drives and SSD drives and notice that ATTO products will consistently provide the highest level of performance to your storage.

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ATTO verifies the CrystalDiskMark results, indicating performance variables between 60MB/s and 80MB/s. This is a rather weak 5,400 rpm 2.5 inch drive. While we appreciate that 7,200 rpm drives are slightly more expensive, we would have opted for a smaller capacity unit to balance the price point.

Within the single player campaign of Portal 2, the player returns as the human Chell, having awakened from stasis after many years. Chell must navigate the now-dilapidated Aperture Science Enrichment Center and its test chambers with the portal gun while the facility is rebuilt by the reactivated GLaDOS, an artificially intelligent computer that first appeared in Portal. The storyline is longer than that of Portal’s and introduces new characters, including the A.I. Wheatley, voiced by Stephen Merchant, and recordings of the deceased Aperture Science CEO Cave Johnson, voiced by J. K. Simmons. Ellen McLain reprised the role of GLaDOS.

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At these settings, the engine remains playable at all times, dropping to sub 30 frame rates a few times. Overall, very good performance however.

Resident Evil 5, known in Japan as Biohazard 5, is a survival horror third-person shooter video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the seventh instalment in the Resident Evil survival horror series, and was released on March 5, 2009 in Japan and on March 13, 2009 in North America and Europe for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. A Windows version of the game was released on September 15, 2009 in North America, September 17 in Japan and September 18 in Europe. Resident Evil 5 revolves around Chris Redfield and Sheva Alomar as they investigate a terrorist threat in Kijuju, a fictional town in Africa.

Within its first three weeks of release, the game sold over 2 million units worldwide and became the best-selling game of the franchise in the United Kingdom. As of December, 2009, Resident Evil 5 has sold 5.3 million copies worldwide since launch, becoming the best-selling Resident Evil game ever made.

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At 720p resolution (1280×720) we managed to get the Direct X 9 version of the engine running smooth by lowering a few of the image quality settings.

Campaigns in From Dust are structured as a sequence of missions, whereby completing certain objectives expedites the tribe’s progress and bestows additional powers, such as the capacity to jellify water. Tribal shamans alert the player to natural disasters, notably tsunamis and volcanic eruptions, shortly before they occur. These disasters can be inhibited through creative, physical manipulation of the environment: a tsunami can be jellified, wildfires extinguished, and lava flows diverted.

We are including this game today as it is one of the best indie games we have played in recent years.

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The game engine is surprisingly demanding and we failed to get anything close to smooth frame rates at 720p, so we dropped the resolution to 800×600.

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Sadly, even at these reduced settings, the engine was very juddery and not at all playable, often dropping to 15-18 fps. Clearly a game which demands a fairly powerful discrete card for optimal performance.

We measure from a distance of around 1 meter from the chassis and 4 foot from the ground with our Extech digital sound level meter to mirror a real world situation.

KitGuru noise guide
10dBA - Normal Breathing/Rustling Leaves
20-25dBA – Whisper
30dBA - High Quality Computer fan
40dBA - A Bubbling Brook, or a Refrigerator
50dBA - Normal Conversation
60dBA - Laughter
70dBA - Vacuum Cleaner or Hairdryer
80dBA - City Traffic or a Garbage Disposal
90dBA - Motorcycle or Lawnmower
100dBA - MP3 player at maximum output
110dBA - Orchestra
120dBA - Front row rock concert/Jet Engine
130dBA - Threshold of Pain
140dBA - Military Jet take off/Gunshot (close range)
160dBA - Instant Perforation of eardrum

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The Fusion system is a cool running, low power consumption platform and it is basically silent. The hard drive noise can be heard however when writing data.

The tests were performed in a controlled air conditioned room with temperatures maintained at a constant 24c – a comfortable environment for the majority of people reading this.

Idle temperatures were measured after sitting at the desktop for 30 minutes. Load measurements were acquired by running Furmark and Cinebench together. Room ambient temperatures were 23c.

We measured results with CPUID Hardware Monitor software.

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The system remains relatively cool even under extreme load situations. Impressive, considering the diminutive physical dimensions of the chassis.

To test power consumption today we are using a Kill A Watt power meter. We loaded the system with some games and measured results at both full load and idle.

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The Nano AD10 demands little power, making it ideal for use 24/7 as a server, or media center. No risk of creating a huge electricity bill by using this system for many hours a day.

First impressions of the Zotac Zbox Nano AD10 system are positive. The packaging is very attractive, and the bundle is both comprehensive and thoughtful. The literature is well written and is loaded with clear and easy to comprehend illustrations. Ideal for a novice user. That said, we are surprised that Zotac didn’t include an HDMI cable.

In regards to performance, the AMD E350 is certainly not classed as a powerhouse design by any stretch of the imagination. That said, it is capable of smooth high definition media playback, and moderate resolution gaming, if you don’t mind lowering some of the image quality settings. It won’t power demanding Direct X 11 titles however, and if you will be considering discrete graphics as an upgrade later, then the AD10 won’t suit.

As a center point for a living room or bedroom however the NANO AD10 comes highly recommended. It can handle 1080p Bluray playback with ease, demands little power, is basically silent and runs cool.

Negatively, we have to dock a point for the inclusion of a low performance 320GB 5,400 rpm 2.5 inch hard drive. This drive is slow to respond and dramatically reduces the overall responsiveness of the system. We can understand that at such a tight price point compromises have to be made, but we would have preferred a smaller capacity 7,200 rpm unit. We tested with a quality 7,200 rpm drive and the system was noticeably more responsive.

How much would a 7,200 rpm hard drive have cost Zotac? The Seagate Momentus 7,200 2.5 inch drive for instance is available for £37 inc vat at Amazon. the Samsung HM321HI drive included in the NANO AD10 costs £30 inc vat. Sadly, this inability to deal with a £7 difference in price has ruined the overall system performance of the Nano AD10 and we could honestly not live with the sluggish response times and substandard sequential throughput from the included drive. Obviously an SSD drive would have made the price unreasonable for many people, but we think a 7,200 rpm drive could have been included.

All things considered, at £249 inc vat, the Nano AD10 proves to offer good value for money, although we would budget another £40 for a drive changeover, with an external self powered USB enclosure for the supplied Samsung drive, so it could be to be used for file storage.

Overall, we like the ZBox Nano AD10 Plus, it is tiny, generates little heat and demands even less power. For noise sensitive situations it makes a great shortlist product as it is basically silent.

Pros:

  • Looks fantastic.
  • good bundle.
  • quiet.
  • low power drain.
  • runs cool.
  • ideal for media and casual gaming demands.

Cons:

  • No HDMI cable.
  • hard drive is the only weak area of the system build.
  • Operating system costs need factored in.

Kitguru says: For the money, it is an excellent purchase. We would mod it out a little however with a new hard drive and perhaps even a memory upgrade.

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Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)
Zotac ZBox Nano AD10 Plus Review, 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 rating
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  • Brooke

    Wow that is tiny, smallest computer ive seen.

    VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  • Stephen

    I have the same hard drive in my dell laptop and its dire. Apart from that this looks like a nice system. Small too.

    Id change the hdd but not much else

    VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  • Derek

    The green top is wicked, is that an led?

    Great looking media system. Well constructed

    VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  • Pete

    Shame it isnt a tiny bit bigger and had a bluray drive. Bit i pose it would cost 400 then

    VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  • Lucas

    They should do one in black and green

    VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  • Young

    I am ordering one as I love the fact this has displayport ! I will replace the drive and use it as an external storage unit. great review thanks.

    VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  • Josh

    really pretty little nettop system, I love the appearance and loads of ports. including displayport and HDMI.

    Shame they dropped the ball a little with the hard drive, but its easy replaced and I like the fact you can put your own OS on it too

    VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  • http://jambeeno.com/ Jambe

    Or you could just buy the barebones one and get the RAM and drive yourself.

    Thorough review!

    VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  • http://twitter.com/portodiego Diego

    do you think it will be able to run Pro Evolution Soccer 2011/2012 with an acceptable fps?

    I’ve seen it run on a core i3 (before sandybridge) cpu + intel hd graphics and for me it works pretty well! (720p)

    VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  • gurugraptor

    Lower RPM drive is to keep the box cool. A higher RPM Drive may cause heat issues.

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  • Slim

    Wonder if the remote will work with Linux

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  • Nintendork

    Diego
    HD6310 destroy i3 graphic by a 3x factor.

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  • francois

    hello, i have problem during catalyst 11.11 on my AD10-Win7 Pro 64b and a black screen instead of the gina after each reboot. did you test catalyst 11.11 on a W7 Pro 64b ?
    Thank you

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  • http://www.xfire.com/blog/darnellzlh/4421232/ ibot roomba

    Thank you, I’ve just been looking for info about this topic for a while and yours is the greatest I’ve came upon so far.

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