Small Wonder: Zotac's HD-ND01 Nettop Review

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Interior Design

Here we have the internal components of Zotac's nettop on display. The plastic tab we took notice of on the last page is visible here, lower-center. Were we to remove it (and it pops right out), you'd see there's a defined location for a DVI-out port. Given that Zotac has already shaped the case to allow for one, it seems reasonable to think we'll see that feature once upon an update. Whether or not the company will retain both the VGA and HDMI outputs at the same time is unknown. If you look over the diminutive motherboard, you'll note the complete lack of external outputs, hookups or internal ports. What you see here is almost everything you get—there's a single open mini-PCIe port on the back of the board (the other slot is occupied by the system's wireless card.) Anything you might opt to install there would need to draw all of its power from the slot—there's not so much as a spare fan header on the motherboard.

The 160GB Toshiba drive on the left can be removed by undoing the two screws on the bottom of the motherboard and sliding it off its connectors, should you wish to upgrade it. Zotac has not released any information to date on whether or not the motherboard has any power limitations in this regard; presumably any mobile drive or SSD will function properly. Alternatively, the system could be booted and run via eSATA, virtually without any performance difference as compared to an internal HDD (possibly faster, if you were to opt for a 3.5" HDD rather than a 2.5" model). There's a bit of a chuckle here—if you look closely at the photo, you'll see that the last sentence in the left-hand column of drive information reads: "Rattle Noise Is Normal."  For the record, our hard drive did not rattle. Despite Toshiba's reassurance, if your HDD is rattling loudly enough that you can hear it distinctly over the noise of the system, it's probably something you should check out.

The MAG ships with 2GB of DDR2-800 RAM in a 2x1GB configuration. The downside of this is that users who want to boost the system's memory past default will have to buy 2GB modules.

The CPU+chipset heatsink up close. It's a lightweight aluminum design, similar to those you might see on a modern low-end, low-cost video card. The bad news is, like such heatsink+fan designs, when this sucker spins up to full speed (at 6000+ RPM), it does so at a frequency not far below your average dentist drill. The good news is, the only time we heard it actually do that is when we told it to in the BIOS. CPU temps can climb into the 40°s when the system is under load, but while this is a bit high compared to a mini-ITX system with a larger heatsink, it's a non-issue—Intel's maximum thermal specification for the processor is 85°C. 

Remove the heatsink, and you've got both the Atom 330 and the ION chipset. Most of the heat (what there is of it) is generated by the chipset—Atom itself draws very little power, even in a dual-core configuration. The chipset and processor actually use two different thermal interface materials (TIMs), if that sort of thing interests you.

Swapping out the hard drive or adding a mini-PCIe card is possible, but we'd urge readers to take great care when attempting to disassemble the unit. The motherboard fits tightly within the plastic shell and will not come out even after the screws are removed unless you bend the sides of the case slightly. In addition, there are several wires that lead from the motherboard to the interior of the case—these are small wires, soldered at both ends, and while there's no reason to think they'd detach when using the system normally, pulling the motherboard out a bit too eagerly could yank one off. As for the shell itself, while there's no reason to think it's susceptible to deformation or cracking, it's also clearly not designed to be opened and tinkered with on a regular basis.

Tags:  Nvidia, Intel, Nettop, Zotac, Atom

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