Inside the ZBox Nano ID65
Opening up and working on the Zotac ZBox Nano ID65 PLUS is surprisingly easy, despite the machine’s ultra small form factor. While some machines in this class require poking and prodding with shims and screwdrivers, to pop fragile plastic clips, the ZBox Nano can be opened up by simply removing four thumbscrews, which double as the machine’s soft rubber feet.
With the system opened up, its motherboard, hard drive, RAM, and Intel mini-PCIe Wi-Fi controller are easily accessible. There is only a single DIMM slot in the device, which supports up to 8GB of RAM and a standard 2.5” HD with 9.5mm Z-Height can be used. Since this is a “Plus” model, a Samsung 500GB hard drive was included along with 4GB of DDR3-1600 RAM. Although adequate, we found this configuration to drag performance down, somewhat. The Intel Core i7-3537U CPU is relatively powerful, so pairing it to faster storage and more RAM would make for some noticeable improvements to performance and enhance the overall user experience.
Although not visible in our pics, as we’ve mentioned earlier, there is a Core i7-3537U CPU on the hidden side of the motherboard’s PCB, along with Intel H77 chipset. This particular CPU has a base clock of 2.1GHz and can boost iup to 3.1GHz. It's a dual-core chip with HyperThreading enabled (2 cores, 4 threads), and features integrated Intel HD 4000 series graphics. We should note, however, that the memory is configured with only a single channel, so overall performance and especially graphics performance, may be held back somewhat. There is also a slim heatsink with barrel type fan, which exhausts air out of the side of the ZBox Nano. We found the single fan to be very quiet and the machine never gets warm or emits a ton of heat. It is not completely silent, but we would have no problem with the system residing in a home theater environment.
Finally, here’s a shot of the Nano mounted to the back of an LCD monitor using the included mount. Pair this machine with a wireless desktop and a slim monitor and that’s about as small a footprint as possible with today’s PC tech, without resorting to a mobile device.