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Zotac ZBox Pico PI320 review

Richard Easton
22 Jan 2015
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
194
inc VAT

The ZBox Pico PI320 is a tiny mini-PC but its performance is comparable to many Windows 8.1 tablets

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Specifications

Processor: Quad-core 1.33GHz Intel Atom Z3735F, RAM: 2GB, Front USB ports : 2x USB, Rear USB ports: 1x USB, Total storage: 32GB MMC, Graphics card: Intel Integrated Graphics, Display: None, Operating system: Windows 8.1 with Bing

The Zotac ZBOX Pico PI320 is a seriously tiny mini-PC. Measuring just 19.2x66x115.5mm, it’s smaller than some portable hard disks – which is no mean feat considering this is a full Windows 8.1 PC. It’s actually small enough to fit into a pocket and take on the move, as long as you bring the compact power brick with you as well.

Built from glossy plastic with a silver outer edge, the Pico feels superbly well built and there’s no hint of any cut corners in terms of construction. The illuminated logo and blue ring on the top are carried over from Zotac’s other systems, but it’s possible to turn these off in the BIOS should you find them distracting.

The Pico is so compact it can be bolted onto the back of a monitor using the included VESA-compatible mounting bracket. This will work with most monitors, apart from a few that already use the VESA mounting points for their stands, and will turn a display into a convenient all-in-one system.

Zotac hasn’t tried to make the chassis as thin as possible, instead leaving enough room for connectivity – something often lacking on other compact systems. There are two USB ports on the side and an additional port on the back, although none use the faster USB3, as well as a single HDMI video output. It’s a shame the Ethernet port is only rated for 10/100Mbit/s speeds rather than Gigabit, though. You do get 802.11n Wi-Fi so you’re ready for wireless networking right out of the box, along with Bluetooth 4.0 for connecting a wireless mouse and keyboard without sacrificing one of the USB ports.

The Pico is passively cooled, meaning there are no noisy fans inside to cool the 1.33GHz Intel Atom Z3735F processor. The CPU can Turbo boost to 1.83GHz when thermal limits allow, making the chassis ever so slightly warm to the touch after prolonged use.

This is essentially the same processor seen in cheap Windows 8.1 tablets such as the Linx 7, and it’s a similar story with the 32GB of non-upgradeable MMC storage. It has the edge in terms of RAM though, with 2GB instead of the paltry 1GB found in many tablets. That’s still not a massive amount of memory for a desktop PC, however, and there’s no way of upgrading. Unlike many of Zotac’s other systems, the Pico PI320 isn’t sold as a barebones kit with easy upgrades.

Performance in our desktop application benchmarks was as expected, managing an overall score of 19 - identical to the Linx 7. Testing browser performance using the SunSpider browser benchmark resulted in a score of 525ms, which is interestingly slightly behind the Linx 7. The PI320 will be able to cope with web browsing, document editing and other basic desktop tasks, which could make it a great choice for an office PC.

We were pleased to see that it coped with HD video content, so the Pico should fit the bill if you’re looking for a discrete system to use as a HTPC too. With Windows 8.1 installed you’re left with just 20GB of free space, so you’ll certainly want to add some external storage if you plan on storing your video and music libraries locally, but thankfully the built-in memory card reader supports microSD, microSDHC and microSDXC cards for quickly adding extra capacity.

Don’t expect the Pico to cope with any strenuous gaming, however. It could only manage 14fps in Dirt Showdown with graphics quality set to Low and anti-aliasing disabled, which neither looked good nor was smooth enough to be considered playable. Certain games from the Windows Store didn’t fare any better, either. Sonic Dash, which can be played with keyboard or mouse controls, had a very jittery frame rate that didn’t make for an enjoyable experience. Halo Spartan Assault was actually playable, so some gaming is actually possible, but your options will be limited.

Zotac should be commended for compacting a full Windows 8.1 system into such a tiny and attractive package, but the Pico PI320 is essentially no more powerful than a budget Windows tablet. Its portability is useful until you consider the need to carry the power supply and potentially a keyboard and mouse.

While the connectivity of a Windows 8.1 tablet, such as the Linx 7, is distinctly lacking compared to the Pico you do get the added benefit of having an actual tablet. Using a USB OTG cable and a powered USB hub will also get you round the connectivity limitations.

At just £80 the Linx 7 is an absolute bargain and would be our preference for a low-cost Windows 8.1 system unless you have a specific preference for a compact PC system. It also means the Zotac ZBox Pico PI320 comes across as slightly pricy for what is on offer, as good looking as it is.

Core specs
ProcessorQuad-core 1.33GHz Intel Atom Z3735F
Processor socketN/A
RAM2GB
Memory typePC3-10600
Maximum memory2GB
MotherboardCustom
Motherboard chipsetN/A
Ports and expansion
Front USB ports2x USB
Rear USB ports1x USB
Other portsN/A
Networking1x10/100 Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi
Case typeMini-PC
Case size HxWxD19.2x66x115.5mm
PCI (free)None
PCIe x1 (free)None
PCIe x16 (free)None
Serial ATA (free)None
Memory slots (free)None
Drive bays 2 1/2" (free)None
Drive bays 3 1/2" (free)None
Drive bays 5 1/4" (free)None
Storage
Total storage32GB MMC
Memory card readermicroSD, microSDHC, microSDXC
Optical drive typeNone
Graphics
Graphics cardIntel Integrated Graphics
Graphics/video portsHDMI
Sound
Sound cardIntel SST Audio
Sound card outputsHeadphone
SpeakersNone
Display
DisplayNone
Native resolutionNone
InputsNone
Other hardware
KeyboardNone
MouseNone
ExtrasNone
Software
Operating systemWindows 8.1 with Bing
Operating system restore optionRecovery disc
Buying information
WarrantyTwo-year RTB (3-year with registration)
Price including delivery (inc VAT)£197
Price excluding monitor (inc VAT and delivery)£197
Supplierwww.amazon.co.uk
Detailswww.zotac.com
Part CodeZBOX-PI320-W2

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