UK price (as reviewed): MSRP £549.99 (inc VAT) US price (as reviewed): MSRP $629.99 (ex Tax)
Zotac's Zbox mini-PCs offer solid performance in a tiny package, but the company also produces even smaller systems under the Zbox Nano moniker, and today sees the launch of the new Zbox Nano ID65 and ID65 Plus, among a few others. With dimensions smaller than Apple's Mac Mini, the new system is closer to the size of Intel's NUC devices, indeed the company is keen to trump its own design over that of NUC.
The ID65 Plus is a high end Zbox Nano part, with a suggested retail price of £550, or £475 for the ID65 barebones option. Its closest competition is Gigabyte's Brix GB-XM1-3537 (also barebones), which can be had for around £415, although we've not yet had a chance to look at it.
The Zbox Nano ID65 Plus really does live up to its name. The tiny chassis will fit within the span of your hand, as it measures 127 millimetres long and deep, which is roughly the diameter of an ordinary optical disc. This makes it about a third smaller than the Mac Mini, for example, although it's also a little taller than Apple's creation at 45mm.
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One criticism we've aimed at the Zbox PCs before is the use of an entirely plastic chassis, even on the most expensive models, but thankfully the same cannot be said of the ID65 Plus. The top and bottom still feature home theatre style glossy black plastic, which is attractive until the moment you touch it, but the sides are all made from aluminium. It stands on a set of rubberised feet, which double up as the screws used to access the insides. You'll find ventilation for exhausted air on the right side, with small intake areas underneath the case and below the rear I/O connections.
Unlike the regular Zbox range, the Zbox Nano ID65 Plus is only designed to stand horizontally, as pictured. A solid metal VESA mount is also provided, however, so it can also be fitted to the back of compatible monitors and hidden out of sight. There's no bundled remote control or USB extension for the front IR receiver though, so you'll need to factor the cost of these in as well should you be needing them. Also included in the box is a single antenna for the onboard WiFi.
As well as the IR receiver at the front, you'll also find a pair of USB 2 ports, a 7-in-1 card reader and a standard pair of audio jacks for headphones and microphones. There's also a button joined by power, HDD access and wireless activity LEDs, but there's no reset button. The plastic power button is very loose, and is a strange slip in quality given its aluminium surroundings.
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The 3.5mm headphone jack can also be used to output 7.1 digital surround sound, thanks to a supplied adaptor that turns it into an optical S/PDIF connection. Though support for such a set-up is impressive, and useful in a PC geared towards media fans, its position on the front means you'd have to have a cable permanently in an unsightly place if you were to take advantage of it.
One of the most impressive things about the ID65 Plus is its rear I/O panel, as it makes the Zbox Nano seriously well connected for so small a device. Four USB 3.0 ports are joined by eSATA and Gigabit Ethernet ports, and the HDMI and DisplayPort connections ensure dual display support as well. Wireless networking via 802.11n WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0 is also supported. While we're yet to look at a Gigabyte Brix, we can safely say the Zbox Nano is far better connected.
The ID65 Plus continues Zotac's tradition of offering a support DVD with Windows drivers on, which you'll need a USB optical drive to install. Likewise, you'll need such a drive (or a bootable flash drive) in order to install your chosen operating system, as the Zbox Nano doesn't ship with one.
Chipset Intel HM77 Express
CPU Intel Core i7-3537U (dual-core), 2GHz (max Turbo frequency 3.1GHz), 4MB L3 cache
Memory 1 x 204-pin DDR3-1600 SO-DIMM slot (1 x 4GB DDR3-1600 included)
GPU Onboard Intel HD Graphics 4000, 350MHz (max dynamic frequency 1.2GHz)
Audio 2-channel high definition audio, Optical S/PDIF
Networking 1 x Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11n/g/b WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0
Storage 1 x SATA 6Gbs (1 x Toshiba MQ01ABD050 500GB 5,400rpm drive included))
Video Output 1 x HDMI, 1 x DisplayPort
External Connectivity Power, 4 x USB 3, 2 x USB 2, stereo, microphone, 7-in-1 card reader (MMC/SD/SDHC/SDXC/MS/MS Pro/xD)