Nettops are not nearly as popular as their mobile contemporaries, i.e. netbooks, arguably due to the lack of any significant horsepower within the tiny machines. Up until now, most nettops have been good for little more than basic Office duties, Web surfing, and occasional 720p (max) movie playback. There's a fine line that has to be walked with a nettop; there's far too little space to shove a Core i3 or better CPU in there, and besides, companies are trying to keep pricing at reasonable levels. Thus, nettops have largely been left with one main processor option: Intel's Atom family.
If you've read a few of our past netbook reviews, you may have noticed that we've been somewhat disappointed with how slowly the Atom line has progressed. But the recently released Atom D525 (dual-core) has proven to be a nice step forward. The machines that we have tested that were powered by this chip have impressed us, so when Zotac decided to equip their latest nettop with Intel's newest dual-core Atom, we definitely perked up.
But the new CPU isn't the only new feature in the HD-ID33 and HD-ID34 nettops, as they are known. The only difference between the two models is the included / not included RAM and hard drive; the ID33 is better for DIYers who may already have a spare 2.5" HDD laying around and a SO-DIMM, while the ID34 ships with a 250GB 5400RPM drive and 2GB of RAM. There's also NVIDIA's next generation Ion (Ion 2) inside, which means that 1080p playback and some light-duty gaming should theoretically be no problem. Also, the exterior design has been completely revamped from Zotac's ZBox HD-ID11 that we reviewed back in May.
|Zotac ZBox (HD-ID34)
Intel Atom D525 (Dual-Core, 1.80GHz)
Zotac Custom-built Next-Gen ION
None Supplied - Windows 7 Ultimate Installed
2GB DDR2-800 Installed
NVIDIA Next Generation ION (512MB DDR3 video memory)
Onboard HD 8-channel audio
Realtek PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet
Atheros AR9285 802.11n Wireless
1 Mini PCIe Slot (available)
Custom Zotac design
4x Blu-ray read; 8x DVD & 24x CD read/write
Front Panel I/O Ports
1 USB 2.0 (Front) & 1 USB 3.0 (Front)
1 Card Reader (SD / SDHC)
Rear Panel I/O Ports
1 USB 3.0
1 DVI (DVI-to-VGA dongle included)
1 Toslink digital audio port
1 RJ-45 Gigabit Ethernet
1 Kensington lock slot
VESA-compatible monitor mounting bracket
Warranty and Support
1 Year Limited
Price: $399.99 (barebones); $499.99 (2GB RAM + 250GB HDD)
NVIDIA's Next-Gen Ion Graphics Processor, aka the GeForce 218GT
We have to say, the exterior design here is far superior than the older model. Not a lot of time has passed, but the exterior work really has taken a huge leap forward. This slimmer design of the newer model makes it easier to slip underneath one's television in an A/V rack, and we're primarily interested in the ZBox HD-ID33/34 as an HTPC. It's also built to be a great space-saving machine for those in studio apartments or college dorm rooms, but the included HDMI output makes this little baby quite the temptation to hook directly to a television. We should also note that no operating system is included in the price. You'll need to supply your own, so keep that in mind before thinking that the MSRP is simply too alluring to be true.