ZOTAC ZBox Nano ID64 Plus
£417 inc VAT • From www.lambda-tek.com
You’ll need to install your own operating system, but this tiny PC is a great mid-range option with reasonable performance.
THE ZOTAC ZBOX Nano ID64 Plus is one of the smallest mini PCs we’ve seen. Its black and silver case is a little larger than Intel NUC-based PCs such as the PC Specialist NUC Lite, but it’s still measures just 45x127x127mm, making it roughly the same size as four standard CD jewel cases. The extra size also means there’s room inside for a 2V2n laptop hard disk, so you’ll be able to fit much more storage than to smaller mini PCs with their tiny mSATA SSD slots. Unlike the Scan 3XS NUC N16, though, there’s no spare mSATA slot if you wanted to add an SSD later.
There’s room inside for a 21/2in laptop hard disk, so you’ll be able to fit much more storage than to smaller mini PCs.
The Nano ID64 is also available as a barebones PC for around £345, which comes without RAM or a hard disk, but the Plus model reviewed here comes with everything pre-built. The only thing you need to add is an operating system; Windows 8.1 is currently £67 from www.lambda-tek.com on DVD. As the ID64 doesn’t have an optical drive, you’ll need to use a separate PC and the Windows 7 USB/ DVD download tool from http://tinyurl.com/windowsusbtool to transfer the contents of the DVD on to a 4GB flash drive.
The Nano ID64 has a 1.8GHz Intel Core ¡5-3337U processor and 4GB of RAM. The processor is a last-generation model, but still has plenty of performance and speed through our multimedia benchmarks with an overall score of 41, which is roughly the same the back of your TV or monitor, especially since a VESA mount comes bundled in the box, and its user-friendly BIOS reveals plenty of options for waking the PC from Sleep mode. As well as the usual USB as a good mid-range laptop and plenty for everyday computing tasks and some more demanding applications. However, the PC wasn’t powerful enough to play back4K video smoothly. There’s also only one memory slot, so you’ll need to get rid of the current RAM if you want to upgrade.
The Nano ID64’s HD Graphics 4000 chipset can just about handle 3D games, but you’ll have to lower the settings to get a playable frame rate. Playing games at 1,920×1,080 is out of the question, as even the lowest-quality settings only produced a jerky 16fps while playing Trine 2, so you’ll be better off sticking with a 1,280×720 resolution for 3D titles. At this lower resolution, the PC produced 28.6fps in Trine 2 with High quality and no anti-aliasing, which is perfectly playable. The PC struggled with more demanding games such as Dirt Showdown as we only saw 16.2fps in this test at 1,280×720 with High detail and 4x anti-aliasing.
Despite these shortcomings, the Nano ID64 is still suited to life as a media centre PC. Its small size makes it ideal for mounting on LAN using an app on a smartphone or tablet, or by an infrared device like a standard TV remote.
The Nano ID64 Plus is easy to upgrade.
We were able to open the PC by simply unscrewing the four feet on the underside of the chassis and popping off the base. Inside, you have access to the 2%in hard disk and two SO-DIMM laptop memory slots. Rather than upgrading to 8GB for around £30, it’ll cost £60 for an 8GB replacement stick. The Nano ID64 Plus also comes with a Wi-Fi card pre-installed and has built-in Bluetooth. There’s also a free mSATA slot for an SSD.
The PC has a useful range of ports. These include six USB ports (two USB2 on the front and four USB3 on the rear), HDMI and DisplayPort video outputs, an eSATA port, a Gigabit Ethernet port, a Wi-Fi antenna connector, a multi-format card reader and separate headphone and microphone jacks.
The two USB2 ports at the front are handy, as you can use them to charge tablets and other USB devices when the PC is turned off or in Sleep mode. This feature is disabled by default, so you’ll need to enable the S3/S4/S5 Charge Function in the PowerManage section of the BIOS interface to activate it.
With so many useful extras, the Nano ID64 Plus is a fine mini PC. It offers a great middle ground between more expensive Core i7 models and less powerful Core i3 mini PCs if you’re happy installing Windows yourself.