Performance Analysis and The Wrap
Performance Summary: Simply put, t
he ZOTAC Zbox offered the best Intel Atom-based computing experience we've seen from any product to hit the market thus far. The Zbox excelled over both single and dual-core Atom variants we tested, even those infused with the previous generation NVIDIA Ion chipset. This performance edge for the Zbox was the direct result of the combination of both the latest generation of the Intel Pineview-based Atom D510 dual-core processor, along with NVIDIA's Next Generation Ion graphics processor.
In the final analysis, in a manner of speaking, the ZOTAC Zbox and its features and performance, are pretty much the sum of its parts. Perhaps this sounds like we have a keen sense of the obvious, but to be honest, we were rather surprised at how well this tiny, almost Wii console-like system performed. Obviously however, the Zbox is built for the do-it-yourselfer crowd, though ZOTAC couldn't have made the process any easier. Remove three thumb-screws, slide in a 2.5" SATA notebook hard drive, and snap in a 2 or 4GB stick of DDR2 SODIMM memory and you're ready to install the OS of your choice. This brings the total Zbox solution to about $375 or so, including these inexpensive components you'll need to complete a full system build. There are but two caveats we would point out and that is the need for an optical drive of some sort, and the fact that we would have appreciated a second SODIMM socket in the machine, allowing users to use dual lower-cost 2GB sticks for 4GB configurations. The latter shortcoming is relatively easy to accommodate in a future spin of the Zbox but adding a thin optical drive is going to take more complex mechanical engineering for ZOTAC obviously. Still, we're hopeful, as this would nicely complete the offering.
Tinier than a toaster. Click for high res...
Otherwise, these two small reservations kept us a hair's width away from awarding the ZOTAC Zbox our coveted Editor's Choice award. Currently, in terms of small form-factor nettops that can do a bit more than the average Atom-based machine starving for a respectable graphics engine, the Zbox is a top-notch, absolutely tiny PC that is actually very versatile for not only general purpose computing but also multimedia, light gaming and Home Theater PC requirements.