Zotac Updates ZBOX mini-PC Lineup at CES 2015by Ganesh T S on January 14, 2015 12:30 AM EST
Zotac's ZBOX series of mini-PCs has been receiving lots of updates over the last year or so. In addition to the traditional ZBOX (which, in itself, was small enough to carry with one hand), the lineup has expanded to include the ZBOX nano, ZBOX nano xs and ZBOX pico families (in order of decreasing size). At CES 2015, we got updates in almost all categories.
ZBOX CI321 nano
An evolutionary update to the ZBOX CI320 nano, it features a Haswell-Y Celeron in the place of a Bay Trail-M processor. The Intel Celeron 2961Y clocks in at 1.1 GHz. It is also the first nano C-series SKU to come with two GbE ports. Other than that, the specifications are just like any other C-series Intel-based mini-PC.
This is a traditional ZBOX with a discrete mobile GPU. Like all traditional ZBOX units, it comes with two GbE ports. The gaming credentials of the system is boosted by the presence of a GTX 860M. A Haswell-U processor, the i5-4210U does the CPU duties. The unit can drive 4Kp60 displays over the DVI-I and Display Port outputs. It is also compatible with NVIDIA G-SYNC displays.
The PA330 is the follow-up to the pocketable PI330 introduced late last year. A tablet platform in a different form factor, the PA330 uses a AMD A4-6400T quad-core Mullins APU with 2 GB of DDR3L and 32 GB eMMC storage. The PI330 from last year uses an Atom Z3775 Bay Trail-T SoC with 4 GB of LPDDR3 and 64 GB of eMMC. That said, the PI330 comes with 802.11n Wi-Fi, while the PA330 sports a 802.11ac connection. GbE LAN, a couple of USB ports and a headphone jack are also present.
Zotac also supplied us with a brochure listing features of their ZBOX units that are currently in the market. One of the tables in it tabulates the features that are available in each series. We are reproducing it below, as we believe readers will find it useful in choosing the right model that fits their needs.
Full pricing details and firm launch dates for the ZBOX models launched at CES 2015 are not yet available.
I had a few suggestions for Zotac when visiting their suite at CES. First of all, for models which have only one SO-DIMM slot, Zotac should put more marketing emphasis on the PLUS models. The drawback of the PLUS units for models with two memory slots is that consumers often do not bother to fill up the free slot. Operating in the single memory channel mode prevents users from realizing the full potential of the computing platform. The quality of the SSDs being used in those PLUS models must also be good (not the FORESEE models in the C-series that we have seen so far). For the premium ZBOX units with two GbE ports, Zotac should opt for Intel GbE transceivers instead of going with Realtek.
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FelixDraconis - Wednesday, January 14, 2015 - linkI wonder why it seems necessary to have 29 different skus. Surely at some point they're not being any more competitive and ensuring a glut of confusing all-alike choices at very similar price points.
I guess some are just tiny changes being sold to different companies but, still...
Maybe some of these models are just historical comparison / not quite discontinued yet, such as the ID45.
Alphonse84 - Wednesday, January 14, 2015 - linkI'm between CI320 and CI321... Which one will be more powerful and reliable for 24/7? I know, the Bay Trail in performance per Watt is probably unbeatable, but I've tried one with Windows 10 (beta) and it's performance could be better. Maybe is something related with the HDD, and an SSD could make the CI320 a faster and snappier machine.
But if I can obtain a more powerful machine (in terms of both CPU and GPU, not only the GPU) with the CI321, then I'll go with that model. I know the Celeron has an Intel HD Graphics with 10 SPUs, while the Bay Trail has only 4. But as I said, the CPU performance is important for me too. At 1,1GHz and only being a Dual Core, how much faster can be this CI321 compared to Bay Trail CI320?
And finally, what about the new HP Stream mini & Pavilion mini, with Celeron and Pentium Haswell respectively?
Thank you, I just signed for the first time in AnandTech only to post this question, and to ask the editors a full Barebones comparison (it would be great, with the Zotacs, HPs minis, Intel NUC and Gigabyte Brix among others).
Keep doing AnandTech the best hardware review web, as it has been all those years.
heffeque - Wednesday, January 14, 2015 - linkIf you need more performance than the CI320 or CI321... I'd go for the MA320. It has a bit more CPU power than both those Celerons (single and multi-thread) and the GPU power is much higher.
And for the price... it's a steal.
close - Wednesday, January 14, 2015 - linkI second that. Such a comparison would be really relevant now. I'm a bit confused by all the SKUs from so many manufacturers at similar price points and it would help to see which is best for any price category and type of workload.
tanyet - Wednesday, January 14, 2015 - linkSeeing the prices for these things without drives, memory or an OS makes me understand why the mac mini is such a good value.
barleyguy - Thursday, January 15, 2015 - linkI have an EN760, and it absolutely destroys a Mac Mini in gaming performance. It will play most modern games at 1080p with high settings. It's also basically silent. At low load it's completely silent, and while gaming it's barely audible.
If the Mac Mini fits your exact use case, it's a good value. But various ZBoxes are good for gaming, or fanless, or pocket sized. That allows many other use cases that the Mac Mini won't satisfy.
bradlinder - Wednesday, January 14, 2015 - linkActually the PI330 is also new. Zotac released the PI320 with an Atom Z3735F processor in 2014. The new model has a slightly faster Bay Trail chip.
dirkdigs - Thursday, January 15, 2015 - linkwhich zbox is recommended for HTPC? i have a network attached storage.
barleyguy - Saturday, January 17, 2015 - linkIf you have any interest in gaming, the EN760 is a great choice. It's got an i5 and gaming graphics, and it's completely silent at low to medium load, including video playback.
The i7 based units, especially the EN730 and 750, reportedly have significant fan noise, so I wouldn't choose one of those for HTPC.
If you don't do any gaming, I'd probably go with something in the ID series (ID45, ID86, ID91, or ID92). They have the same case design as the EN series, but less powerful hardware. Because that case design has good cooling, they should be silent or very quiet, and also very stable.
shamans333 - Friday, January 16, 2015 - linkZbox systems have very high failure rates of about 75% from my personal experience of 40+ Zbox systems. They only have 1 year warranty also. Stay away.