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Zotac Zbox Nano Ci321 (Plus) review

Zotac Zbox Nano CI321 Plus
Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £230
inv VAT (Plus model)

Convenient yet compact, the Zbox Nano Ci321 is easy to upgrade and powerful enough for most Windows tasks


Processor socket: N/A, Chipset: Intel, Memory slots: 1, PCI-E x16 slots: 0, USB ports: 4x USB3, 1x USB, Video outputs: HDMI, DisplayPort, Max 2 1/2in drive bays: 1

Long before Intel’s Core i5-powered NUC arrived, Zotac’s Zbox range of incredibly compact PCs were our go-to choice for anyone looking for a seriously small computer they could hide behind a monitor or under a desk. The Zbox Nano CI321 Plus is the latest, and the first we’ve seen with an Intel processor at its heart rather than an AMD chip.

The CPU in question is a 1.1GHz Celeron 2961Y, a dual-core chip based on Intel’s Haswell architecture. It produces so little heat that the entire system can be passively cooled. Combined with the external power brick, it’s a completely silent system. This is great news for anyone looking for a compact home theatre PC, but unfortunately anyone looking to get some serious work done will be disappointed by the chip’s poor performance.

Zotac Zbox Nano CI321 Plus front

We tried running our 4K benchmarks, for example, but it took a solid 72 hours of grinding to complete. The end result of 11 is still three times faster than the Atom CPUs found in other Micro PCs, however. Our less demanding 1080p benchmarks were more than enough to tax the hardware, with a final score of 47 – considering a £320 Core i3 laptop scores 100, you definitely won’t be performing any demanding tasks. This is still sufficient for web browsing and multimedia playback though, and we had no problems watching Netflix in Full HD.

The CI321 definitely isn’t going to cope with modern gaming, either. With Intel’s HD Graphics providing the processing power, the Zbox Nano could only manage a paltry 13.8ps in our Dirt Showdown test at 1080p with 4x AA at High detail settings. Even reducing the settings down to 720p with no anti-aliasing couldn’t help produce a smooth frame rate, with the CI321 chugging along with an 15.8fps average.

Unsurprisingly there are no overclocking settings in the BIOS, meaning there’s no real scope for squeezing out extra performance, although you can at least adjust memory timings.

Zotac Zbox Nano CI321 Plus rear

The CI320 nano itself is barely any larger than a stack of four CDs, and ships with a VESA mounting bracket that lets you completely hide it from view behind a monitor. The case is made from metal, which helps dissipate heat from the passively cooled processor, and although it gets noticeably warm to the touch when in use it was never painfully hot.

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Form factorMini-ITX
Processor socketN/A
Processor supportN/A
Processor external bus100MHz
Supported memory typeDDR3
Maximum memory speed1,600MHz
Memory slots1
Maximum memory16GB
PCI-E x16 slots0
PCI-E x4 slots0
PCI-E x1 slots0
PCI slots0
SATA II ports0
SATA III ports1
RAID supportN/A
Wired network ports2x 10/100/1000Mbit/s
Wireless networking support802.11ac
Motherboard sound (ports)2x analogue, 8-channel via HDMI
USB ports4x USB3, 1x USB
USB headers0
Video outputsHDMI, DisplayPort
Other portsSD card slot
Cables includedNone
Motherboard clock adjustmentNone
Motherboard voltage adjustmentNone
Dual 3D architectureN/A
Max 2 1/2in drive bays1
Max 3 1/2in drive bays0
Max 5 1/4in drive bays0
Other drive bays0
Max graphics card lengthN/A
Power supply wattage40w

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