As we have been seeing over the years, with every platform change ZOTAC releases a new ZBOX for you to experience the next-gen in a small box-sized form factor. As a category, small form factor PCs are yet to go mainstream in this part of the world, but that hasn’t stopped ZOTAC from launching newer models. This time around we have ZBOX nano AQ01 Plus which houses AMDs Kabini APU.
Design and Build
The ZOTAC ZBOX nano AQ01 Plus looks quite similar to its previous ZBOX nano iterations
There are hardly any changes you will notice in terms of build. You have the same square-shaped box measuring 127x127x45 mm with the top and bottom having a black glossy plastic and the sides covered in silver-coloured plastic. The build is sturdy and the plastic does not flex on mild pressure. When powered on, the green ring on the top glows, to add some colour to the plain box.
The ports are located on the front and rear side with the left edge featuring the cooling vents. The power button is located in the front and it has a tiny indicator which glows green when the ZBOX is powered on. There are two USB ports on the front with a card reader and the audio and headphone jack. On the rear side you have a LAN port surrounded by two USB 3.0 ports, three USB 2.0 ports with the Wi-Fi antenna out on the extreme right hand side. As far as display ports go, the ZBOX Nano AQ01 Plus has one HDMI port and one DisplayPort. It is powered by a 65W adapter.
On the front face you have two USB 2.0 ports, a power button, an SD card slot and audio and microphone jacks
It comes with a VESA mounting bracket if you plan to wall-mount it. You can even mount it behind your LCD monitor if you do not want it to be visible.
This edition of the ZBOX nano comes with a Kabini APU A4-5000. Kabini is the code-name of the current generation APU from AMD which is primarily aimed at small form factor and lower power PCs. Although an incremental update was announced last month in the form of the A4-5100, the ZBOX houses the older A4-5000. It has four Jaguar cores clocked at 1.5GHz and it also sports HD 8330 integrated graphics. Considering this is the Plus version of the AQ01, it comes with 4GB DDR3 RAM and a WD 500GB hard drive.
The rear side has the LAN Port surrounded by two USB 3.0 ports and three USB 2.0 ports along with HDMI and DisplayPort for display
One future-proof feature of the AQ01 Plus is the presence of the 802.11 ac wi-fi adapter. The AQ01 comes sans any operating system, which we find strange considering the price.
Since the AQ01 does not come with any OS, we installed the Windows 7 Ultimate on it. We ran our regular battery of tests involving synthetic as well as real world benchmarks. Cinebench R11.5 gave a CPU score of 1.48 and PC Mark 7 gave an overall score of 1535. Neither of these scores are impressive, but that is expected considering we are looking at an under-powered quad-core processor. Compressing a 100MB file using 7Zip took 125 seconds, whereas on the ASUS VivoPC which houses the Core i3-3110M took around 85 seconds. Video transcoding (1 min MPEG to x.264 MPEG-4 using AVIDemux) on the AQ01 took 138 seconds whereas it took 80 seconds on the VivoPC. Agreed it isn’t fair to compare the two, but till we get our hands on the next generation of Atom processor-based ZBOXes, there can’t really be a proper comparison.
On opening the lid of the ZBOX nano AQ01 Plus you will find a WD 500GB HDD, Hynix 4GB RAM and Intel Dual-band Wireless-AC 3160 adapter
While watching HD videos (files with .MOV format played back using VLC Media Player) we noticed a CPU utilisation of around 10 per cent for 720p videos and around 25-30 per cent for 1080p videos. During full HD videos, even in the completely dark scenes the CPU utilisation was touching 15 per cent which is high when compared with the Intel processors.
Gaming and graphics is one department where the AQ01 is better in comparison to the VivoPC. While benchmarking Resident Evil 5 at 1280x720 pixel at medium settings, we got 37 FPS on the AQ01 as compared to 30FPS on the VivoPC. Even with 3D Mark 11, the AQ01 Plus gave 599 points whereas the VivoPC gave 544 points. Clearly, the HD 8330 proves itself more capable of handling graphics than Intel HD 4000.
Verdict and Price in India
The ZOTAC ZBOX nano AQ01 Plus is priced at Rs 26,500 and again it faces the same dilemma as we had seen with the ID65 Plus. You cannot expect to win buyers with that price, especially when you are not offering an OS and a keyboard or mouse in the package. The A4-5000 is not the fastest processor either. The graphics are marginally better than the Intel HD 4000 in the gaming benchmarks, but you are surely not going to play games on the AQ01. At most, one will watch full HD movies on this for which it is great, although its CPU utilisation is higher as compared to the Intel Core i3 processor. Even the presence of 802.11 ac Wi-Fi is not enough to justify the price. The barebones model comes at Rs 18,300 which is again a high price to pay considering you will have to add in your own RAM modules and HDD.
Go for this only if you are looking to buy an HTPC and a small form factor machine for performing basic tasks such as working with office suite, surfing the web and watching movies. But we would recommend it only if the pricing drops closer to Rs 20,000, considering you will have to pay extra for the OS and keyboard-mouse combination.
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