Zotac has announced the second-generation family of its Zbox mini-PCs, taking in chips from both Intel and AMD in an effort to offer those looking for a compact system the best possible choice.
Launched almost two years ago, the Zbox range has proven popular. Packing a low-power processor and plenty of connectivity into a sleek box that rivals the Mac Mini for style, it's been a successful move for a company more usually associated with graphics cards.
'We take feedback from our users and customers seriously,
' claimed Carsten Berger, Zotac's marketing director, at the launch announcement. 'The new enhancements we're introducing with the Zotac Zbox ID81, ID80, AD04 series and the second-generation Zbox platform are the result of the feedback we received.
There's certainly plenty of improvement to be found: the top-of-the-range ID81 series includes a full-fat 1.2GHz dual-core Intel Celeron 857 Sandy Bridge-family chip, which includes Intel's integrated HD Graphics technology and dual-display output capabilities. Alternatively, the ID80 series swaps the chip out for a dual-core 2.13GHz Intel Atom D2700 Cedar Trail processor paired with Nvidia's GeForce GT 520M graphics processor.
For those who prefer things from the red camp, the AD04 series includes AMD's dual-core 1.65GHz Fusion E-450 Accelerated Processing Unit (APU) with integrated AMD Radeon HD 6320 graphics for, Zotac claims, improved overall system performance compared to the last-generation Zbox product range.
All three families are being made available as bare-bones systems for those who already have memory and a hard drive, while the Zbox ID81 Plus, ID80 Plus and AD04 Plus include 2GB of DDR3 memory and a 320GB hard drive pre-fitted. No operating system is included as standard, with Zotac recommending Windows 7 - no surprise there - or the free OpenELEC Linux-based media centre OS
for those on a budget or with a preference for open-source software.
All models include two SuperSpeed-compatible USB 3.0 ports, four High-Speed USB 2.0 ports, integral gigabit Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 3.0 connectivity, and bundled remote control and VESA mounting brackets. Display outputs vary by model,with the Intel-based systems offering HDMI and DVI connectivity and the AMD model featuring HDMI and DisplayPort outputs.
Sadly, there's one piece of information Zotac is currently keeping under its hat: the price.
Do you think Zotac is on to a winner with its latest generation of ultra-compact bare-bones systems, or do they lack the grunt you'd need to consider a purchase? Share your thoughts over in the forums