Zotac ZBOX HD-ND22: A CULV Nettop at last!

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TEST RESULTS

System Power Draw

Test Results: System Power Consumption (AC)
Test State
Gateway EC1803h
Asus UL30A
Asus EB1501
Zotac ZBOX
Sleep
1W
1W
2W
1~2W
Idle
9W
8W
20W
23W
x264 Playback
19W
16W
28W
28W
CPU Load
21W
23W
27W
32W
CPU + GPU Load
23W
26W
39W
44W
Gateway & Asus UL30A are CULV laptops.

The ZBOX consumes a few more watts during operation than the Eee Box EB1501, which also features ION graphics but paired with a dual core Atom. For a desktop system, the extra power consumption is an almost a negligible concession given how much better CULV processors perform. Both nettops pale in comparison to the energy efficiency of CULV laptops like the Gateway EC1803h and Asus UL30A, particularly when idle and during video playback.

Video Playback

Test Results: Video Playback
Test State
Asus EB1501
Zotac ZBOX
Avg.
CPU
System Power
Avg.
CPU
System Power
Rush Hour
(H.264 10mbps)
13%
25W
8%
25W
Coral Reef
(WMV 8mbps)
29%
27W
9%
25W
Spaceship
(x264 14mbps)
18%
28W
17%
28W
Crash
(x264 22mbps)
not tested
19%
29W
Iron Man
(Flash 2mbps)
26%
24W
23%
26W

The combination of a dual-core Atom and ION graphics can handle almost any high definition video clip thrown at it, so the increased performance of the Celeron SU2300 does not blow away the Asus EB1501. A couple of the clips played with lower CPU utilization, but power efficiency was very similar. The ION graphics chip does most of the heavy lifting in both of these systems.

Performance Benchmarks

Test Results: Performance Benchmarks
System
Zotac ZBOX
Gateway EC1803h
DIY Atom 330 (XP)
Asus UL30A
CPU
Celeron 1.2GHz
C2S 1.4GHz
Atom 1.6GHz
C2D 1.33GHz
RAM
4GB
3GB
2GB
4GB
Boot-up
1:21
0:53
0:49
0:57
NOD32
12:59
11:14
18:38
11:05
WinRAR
6:00
5:38
6:49
5:27
iTunes
9:07
8:46
20:30
8:02
TMPGEnc
12:54
20:01
15:38
10:22
PCMark05
3322
2214
2011
3452
3DMark05
3686
979
254
1396
3DMark06
1787
603
N/A
822
Gateway & Asus UL30A are CULV laptops.

While an Atom is just as capable when paired with ION for video playback, the CULV + ION combination proved to be much more responsive and faster overall. The ZBOX crushed the DIY Atom 330 (with Intel chipset) system in all of the benchmarks. For a pure media playback machine, a dual-core Atom with ION graphics will suffice, but if you delve into more demanding applications, Atom's limitations become crystal clear.

The only time the ZBOX felt slow was during boot-up, as it took 32 seconds longer than the DIY Atom 330. Other than that, the performance was what you would expect, a couple of steps behind the Asus UL30A laptop with its higher clocked and cache-rich Core 2 Duo SU7300 processor.


For more adventurous users, the BIOS offers some frequency control.

Those looking for a performance boost will be interested to know that both the CPU and GPU can be overclocked, though we don't recommend it given the tight confines and limited cooling in the ZBOX. The FSB can be increased from the stock 800 MHz up to set up to 2500 MHz, and the GPU can upped from 450/1100 MHz to 700/1800 MHz. Basic memory timings can also be tweaked, and the chipset voltage can be increased slightly.

WiFi Performance

Our ZBOX sample had an integrated 802.11n WiFi adapter using a Ralink chipset. When the adapter was disabled the system power consumption lowered by 1W; there was no power difference when it was connected to a network or not. The 802.11g/n reception was good, but the speed left a lot to be desired. When transferring a large file, 802.11g averaged only ~15 mbps while 802.11n was actually slightly slower. The unit lacks an external antenna would could be responsible for this relatively poor performance.



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