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Zotac Zbox HD-ID40-U review

Seth Barton
4 Dec 2010
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
190
inc VAT

A well-designed mini PC for those who want to specify their own hard disk, memory and operating system.

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Zotac’s Zbox mini PC is based around Intel’s latest Atom platform: Pine Trail. Confusingly, the Zbox also carries Nvidia’s Ion branding. Previously Nvidia made the entire chipset, but this latest iteration of Ion uses an Intel chipset with the addition of Nvidia graphics. Here we’re looking at the barebones version, which comes without memory or a hard disk.

Physically the Zbox is fairly compact, it’s a square block measuring 188x44x188mm. It’s equally happy lying down on your desk like a Mac Mini, sitting upright in the provided vertical stand, or hanging from the back of a VESA compatible monitor – using a supplied bracket. The central body is made of rather cheap looking silver plastic, this is sandwiched by two convex gloss black panels – which pick up fingerprints far too easily.

Zbox VESA mount

The upper (or left-hand) panel is fixed, and includes a glowing ring around a Zotac logo. The lower (right-hand) panel is held on by two small thumb screws. Once undone, it can be slid off, which reveals the Zbox’s innards. There’s a bay here for a 2.5in laptop hard disk. This just slots in and is secured by a little hinged flap – which itself is held down securely by another thumbscrew.

There are two slots for laptop-style SODIMM memory modules. Each can take a 2GB DDR2 module, with support for up to 4GB in total. These cost around £30 each, though we can’t see anyone needing more than 2GB of memory in a PC like this one.

There’s no optical drive included, and so you’ll need an external drive to boot from and install Windows – you can pick one up for as little as £20. Alternatively, you could install a Linux distribution, such as Ubuntu, directly from a flash drive or USB hard disk.

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