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

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Audio Recordings

These recordings were made with a high resolution, lab quality, digital recording system inside SPCR's own 11 dBA ambient anechoic chamber, then converted to LAME 128kbps encoded MP3s. We've listened long and hard to ensure there is no audible degradation from the original WAV files to these MP3s. They represent a quick snapshot of what we heard during the review.

Each recording starts with ambient noise, then 10 second segments of product at various states. For the most realistic results, set the volume so that the starting ambient level is just barely audible, then don't change the volume setting again while comparing all the sound files.

Comparable System sound files:


The ZBOX HD-ND22 does what many of Zotac's previous products have done in the past: Push the boundaries of small form factor PC performance. Nvidia's ION chipset makes HD video playback on Atom-based systems a breeze but such machines are poor in overall speed and responsiveness. Pairing ION with a dual core Intel CULV processor results in a staggering performance increase. While this combination may not be able to compete with your average budget tower with a standard desktop CPU, being packed in a 7.4 x 7.4 x 1.7" casing givers it the highest size-to-performance ratio of any desktop you can buy.

Compared to the Asus Eee Box EB1501 (Atom 330 + ION), the ZBOX uses a few more watts of power as one would expect, and is comparable when it comes to acoustics. It is quiet enough once you disable the horrid dynamic fan control system and set it to the lowest single speed setting, particularly when mounted behind a monitor. It does have trouble keeping its components cool and quiet when heavily stressed, but there isn't a much Zotac could have done about this without making the case bigger to accommodate a larger heatsink/fan. We wouldn't have minded a slightly thicker ZBOX, especially if it allowed for a slim optical drive. Our only other complaint is the disappointing WiFi speed..

With a MSRP of US$270, the Zotac ZBOX HD-ND22 looks like a steal until you include the price of a hard drive and some RAM to complete the system. 2GB of RAM and a 320GB hard drive brings up the total to about US$355 and you can tack on another $90~$100 for an OEM copy of Windows 7 Home Premium unless you go with Linux. Luckily for the ZBOX, nothing on the market with similar dimensions (and/or the ability to be VESA mounted) comes close to its performance, with most nettops still stuck with Atom. We don't foresee Atom desktops disappearing anytime soon, but we sincerely hope the ZBOX marks the beginning of a general expansion of nettops beyond Atom.

Zotac ZBOX HD-ND22

* Very fast for a nettop
* ION graphics
* Compact, VESA mountable
* Can be overclocked if you dare

* Runs hot in Quiet mode when taxed heavily
* Terrible dynamic fan control
(can be disabled)
* Slow WiFi

Our thanks to Zotac for the ZBOX HD-ND22 sample.

Zotac ZBOX HD-ND22 is Recommended by SPCR.

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Articles of Related Interest
Samsung N220 Pine Trail Netbook
Asus UL30A & Lenovo ThinkPad Edge 13 CULV Notebooks
Asus EeeBox EB1501 ION Mini-PC
Lenovo IdeaCentre Q110: Tiny ION Nettop
Lenovo IdeaCentre Q100: World's Thinnest, Smallest Nettop
Gateway EC1803h: Netbook or Ultra-portable?

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