The biggest thing about Zotac’s new ZBox Nano XS AD11 Plus may in fact be its name. This new mini PC is so small, it makes the diminutive ZBox Nano AD10 look positively fat in comparison.
Hell, the only commercial mini PC we’ve seen that’s smaller is the Apple TV, which is about the same width and depth but a quarter-inch thinner. The Apple TV is ARM-based, though, and more in the class of a typical HTPC streaming device. The AD11, with its AMD E-450 APU and 64GB SSD is a full-on PC. While streaming boxes such as WD’s Live have come a long way in capability, it’s tough to beat a PC’s ability to go anywhere you want. From streaming sites that are restricted by cable providers to not-safe-for-work content, an HTPC streaming PC trumps all others if you’re willing to live with a mouse and keyboard controls.
Zotac’s ZBox Nano XS AD11 Plus is the smallest commercial PC we’ve ever tested.
The ZBox Nano XS AD11 Plus has two parts that can be swapped: the 64GB mSATA drive and a single 2GB DDR3/1333 SO-DIMM (both of which are easily accessible). Performance of the new AMD E-450 was surprisingly good in our tests. The APU’s main new feature is a slight speed bump to its dual CPU cores and higher Turbo clocks for the Radeon HD 6320 core. In short, the Nano XS AD11 has enough oomph to let us watch streaming HD content on the major streaming services and it could almost tackle that turd known as QuickTime, playing a 1080p trailer from the local drive without dropping frames. For what it’s worth, the file plays just fine from Windows Media Player.
Our only negative experience with the AD11 was getting all of the drivers installed. You shouldn’t have to play Where’s Waldo to accomplish this task, but we had to. There’s also a tad bit of fan whine under heavier loads and the USB Wi-Fi fan dongle is uninspired but practical. That doesn’t erase the pluses, though. The AD11 is impressively small and capable for what it is.
ZBox Nano XS AD11 Plus
Small enough to tuck anywhere; has enough power to stream most content.
Slight fan noise and underwhelming driver-install process.
AMD 1.65GHz E-450 dual-core
Radeon HD 6320
64GB Lite-On mSATA
2GB DDR3/1333 single-channel
HDMI, two USB 2.0, two USB 3.0, one combo eSATA/USB 2.0