Zotac Announces New Next-Generation Ion ZBox

Zotac gave details on the next system in its line of mini-PCs today, the HD-ID11. Externally, the HD-ID11 is nearly identical to the HD-ND01 we reviewed last year, but the manufacturer has made a number of small upgrades to add a few of the features we had on our wishlist for the original MAG. There have also been a few subtractions; we'll have to wait for a hands on review to determine how the new system's balance compares to the original.

First, the hardware. The new ZBox is built around an Atom D510 SoC and an NVIDIA NG-Ion GPU with a 512MB frame buffer. External connectivity is provided via six USB 2.0 ports, an eSATA port, one HDMI output, a 6-in-1 memory card reader, and a dual-link DVI output. Both wired (gigabit) and wireless (802.11/b/g/n) are also included. The only external downside is the continued lack of any sort of CD-ROM option—you'll need to plan ahead and purchase either a USB2 DVD drive or a flash drive of sufficient size in order to load the operating system.

The HD-ID11's DVI port is a hoped-for addition; the fact that it's dual-link is an added bonus. Similarly, the board's new GPU should be significantly faster than the original Ion, and the new Pineview Atom is a touch faster than the old Atom 330 at the heart of the HD-ND01. Missing this time around, however, is any sort of bundled hard drive (the HD-ND01 included a 160GB Hitachi) and a second DIMM slot. We won't be able to judge the impact of these removals until Zotac releases an MSRP for the new system, but the hardware upgrades to the original design give the HD-ID11 a sexy sheen out of the gate. We were fans of the original ND-01—hopefully this update raises the bar even higher.

Editor's update 3/3/10 11:15AM EST:  Zotac just informed us that the new ZBox will sell for an MSRP of $209.99 -- a great price actually come to think of it.  We're excited to get a unit in for testing.