Zotac Zbox Plus Nano XS AD11 review
1.65GHz AMD E-450, 2GB RAM, N/A display
In the world of mini-PCs, size really does matter. Zotac's Zbox Plus Nano XS appears to be the front runner when it comes to the current round of miniaturisation wars. Measuring just 41x105x105mm, it's by far the smallest PC we've ever reviewed. Despite its obvious lack of airspace and its minimal ventilation, it only gets warm, not blisteringly hot, while it’s running.
The PC comes with a VESA mounting plate (so you can easily attach it to the back of a TV or monitor), an HDMI cable, a media centre remote control and USB infra-red receiver, and a USB Wi-Fi dongle. That's two USB devices you need to connect before you’ve even attached your mouse and keyboard. Fortunately, the Nano XS is slightly better equipped than some of its rivals.
It has one dual-purpose USB2/eSATA port at the front, a multifunction card reader that can handle MMC, Memory Stick PRO and SDXC cards, and 3.5mm microphone and headphone jacks. At the back, there are two USB2 ports in addition to a Gigabit Ethernet port and a HDMI port, which is the XS's only graphics output.
There are also two USB3 ports, but if you’re going to use Windows on the PC, you won't be able to use them until you've installed the operating system and the USB3 driver. The driver is provided on a disc, as are the graphics chipset, audio and Wi-Fi drivers. This means that the easiest way to install the drivers is to copy them to a USB disk using another PC or connect the mini PC to the internet and download them from Zotac's website, unless you have an external DVD drive. We were pleased that the Ethernet port worked without extra drivers. Sadly, the same wasn’t true of the Wi-Fi dongle. Needless to say, we'd have preferred a natively supported Wi-Fi dongle.