Connectivity is where the Zbox Nano AD10 Plus (now try
saying that ten times fast) really shines, by offering everything we could have
asked for and more. At the front, we have an IR receiver which works with the
included remote, an SDXC card reader, and 3.5mm headphone plus microphone
The rear hosts two USB 2.0 ports, two of the faster USB 3.0
variety, an eSATA port, Wi-Fi antennae input and Gigabit Ethernet. Video is
comprehensively covered by both HDMI and DisplayPort. On the wireless side of
things, meanwhile, Wi-Fi N and Bluetooth 3.0 round it all off nicely. Our only
minor quibbles are that we would have liked at least one USB port on the
machine’s front and a dedicated digital audio output, though the Nano will
happily pipe up to eight channel audio over HDMI. And while we’re being picky,
a TV tuner would have been an awesome addition.
When it comes to specifications, the Nano AD10 (the ‘Plus’
addition designates the model that’s preconfigured with RAM and a hard drive) sports
an AMD ‘Fuzion’ CPU and GPU combo, similar to that found in some netbooks,
tablets and of course rival nettops. Specifically, there’s an E-350 dual-core
processor that runs at 1.6GHz, which should provide performance that just about
tops a dual-core 1.8GHz Intel Atom. Essentially then, it will be adequate for
many people’s computing needs, as long as you’re not the impatient type, a
heavy multi-tasker or run CPU-intensive apps.
The graphics side of things is also interesting, as the Radeon
HD 6310 should get you playable frame rates in very undemanding games –
though it didn’t fare too well in our TrackMania Nations Forever test,
achieving a barely playable 25.3fps (frames per second) average on medium
detail and at 720p.
However, for video duties it will handle everything its
dedicated desktop siblings can manage, including online and offline 1080p video
in any format. The closest equivalent is probably Nvidia’s ION2, which we often
find pairing Atom CPUs. However, AMD’s solution uses slightly less power than
an Atom/ION combo while providing slightly more performance.
Getting to RAM and storage, you can either go the
preconfigured ‘Plus’ route, or buy the vanilla AD10, which lets you stick in
any DDR3 SO-DIMM and a 2.5in hard drive or SSD of your choice. Though the E-350
platform can support up to dual 1066MHz DIMMS in theory, in the Nano’s case
(pun intended) you’re limited to a single stick of ‘laptop’ memory. The AD10
sells for £189, while the AD10 Plus will set you back £255 with 2GB of RAM and
a Samsung 5,400rpm 320GB HDD.
Considering you can buy 4GB of laptop RAM for under £30 and
a 1TB 2.5in HDD for around £50 these days, you’re definitely better off
installing these yourself, but it’s nice to have the option for those
disinclined to tinker with their PCs’ innards. You could even go so far as to
stick in an SSD, though that will likely be overkill compared to the rest of
Speaking of tinkering, Zotac’s Nano provides very easy
access. Merely undo four screws to remove its base, then two more for the hard
drive cage, and both memory and storage can be installed in mere minutes.
Regardless of your configuration choice, you will need to install an operating
system yourself, so if opting for Windows – instead of a free alternative like
Linux – you’ll need to factor in that cost too.