ZOTAC ZBOX nano AQ02 & AQ02 Plus Review

“We Don’t know why company has named it Mini-PC, it should be named Tiny-PC cause it is at no front less than any full size normal PC . We are really impressed with it’s performance and portability. It is now in our best computing solutions list. “

 

Introduction

Zotac is the king when it comes to all-in-one or as guys called mini pcs. They are really benchmark setter. The Z-Box we saw previously showed well made Zotac products. The Z-box today is a little more specialised and is specifically designed for high-end entertainment. We give you the ZBOX nano AQ02.

Features

  • Highly Portable
  • Powerful  Ultra Silent Designing and Structure
  • High Quality Metal Case
  • Proper System of Ventilation

Tech Specs

MODELZBOX nano AQ02/AQ02 Plus
CPUAMD A8-5545M APU Platform (quad-core) (1.5 GHz)
CHIPSETIntegrated
GPUAMD Radeon™ HD 8510G
DIRECTXDIRECTX 11.1
OPENGLOPENGL 4.3
MEMORY/RAM(PLUS MODEL)4GB DDR3 204-pin 1333Mhz SODIMM (up to 8GB)
MEMORY EXPANSION SLOTSN/A
STORAGE(PLUS MODEL)500GB 5400RPM HDD
OPTICAL DRIVEN/A
CARD READER7-in-1 (MMC/SD/SDHC/SDXC/MS/MS Pro/xD)
NETWORK ETHERNET10/100/1000Mbps
WI-FI802.11ac/n/g/b/a + Bluetooth 4.0
AUDIO3.5MM Jack and Via HDMI
DVI PORTN/A
HDMI PORT1 (HDCP, LPCM & bitstream ready)
DISPLAY PORT1
SATASATA 6.0 Gb/s compatible
ESATA1
IDEN/A
PS2N/A
SERIAL PORTN/A
USB PORT4 USB 3.0 (on back panel) 2 USB 2.0 (front)
COOLERSMARTFAN
OS COMPATIBILTYUser Installed (Window 7/8 Ready)
SLI SUPPORTEDN/A
MAXIMUM RESOLUTIONN/A

Contents & Packaging

As usual, the packing of Zotac ZBox is highly professional and designed in such a manner to avoid any kind of damage to any of the content inside the box, so We don’t think it is required here to show the packaging of the box. The box is very solid having mixture of Green and black colours. Have a look on the content of the box –

 

Although there should be no confusion regarding the content of the box after having look over the above picture but we feel it our duty to write it down as well. So here it is –

  • 1 x ZOTAC ZBOX nano AQ02 Plus
  • 1 x WiFi antenna
  • 1 x mini-Optical to Optical adapter
  • 1 x AC adapter
  • 1 x Power cord
  • 1 x VESA mount
  • 1 x User manual
  • 1 x Driver DVD

Now  after verifying the content of the box, let’s go over the installation process which is quite easy.

Installation

Zotac ZBOX nano AQ02/AQ02 plus comes almost ready to use and nothing advanced techie knowledge required to make it working. First of all, let’s have a look on the front and back panel of the ZBOX.

You just have to follow these three super-simple steps and you will be good to go –

1.) Plug-in one edge of AC adapter in the specified point located at back panel and use the power cord according to your source of power to power the adapter.

2.) Use HDMI/Display Cable as per your choice of Display.

3.) Optional- Screw the Wi-Fi Antenna or LAN cable in back panel if you want to connect it to the internet.

And now you are ready to install your preferred Operating system.

Now choice of Operating system is purely depends on your requirement. If you want to use it just as entertainment box and free option then you can install OpenELEC or XBMC whose details you can find on Zotac site here

But as we just don’t satisfy with only entertainment, we gone for Window 7 installation. Actually we need computing in every gadget and with every screen as we are hardcore  geeks. :)

If you also want to install Window 7/8 , then you would like this very simple guide about how to install window 7/8 from USB drive because Zotac ZBOX doesn’t have any optical drive in-built. But if you feels it confusing about installing window from USB drive and like to install window through CD/DVD then you can use portable DVD reader/writer through USB ports.

Okk Now Let’s go over the juice of this review that is testing from various angles and results…So have a look-

Testing & Results

As we are hardcore testers, we tested it from various angles ranging from HD video playback to heavy gaming playback and various office applications. So now its time to post these results from all these angles –

HD Video Playback – THOR-The Dark World

We played various HD music videos and watched Thor The Dark World Blu-Ray 1080p movie on this and let us tell you that performance was really surprising without any video legging and experience was flawless with no audio problem even at peak bit rate scenes.Here is the full info of the movie for your reference –

RUNTIME……….: 1h:52m:03s
SIZE………….: 14.0 GB
VIDEO CODEC……: x264, CRF15, L4.1
FRAMERATE……..: 23.976 fps
BITRATE……….: Variable ~ 16190 Kbps
RESOLUTION…….: 1920×800 (2.40:1)
AUDIO…………: English DTS 5.1 @ 1509 Kbps

Rating : 4.5/5

Game Playback – GRID 2 and MORTAL KOMBAT KOMPLETE EDITION

We played two games on this. One was GRID2 and second was Mortal Kombat Komplete Edition . We kept the medium level settings for both the games according to the configuration of this ZBOX. Here Zotac ZBOZ also surprised us with the performance and graphics processing. AMD Radeon™ HD 8510G combining with AMD-A8 CPU was really good to blast the performance. With the super performance at mid level, we also tempted to use High Level settings. At high-level settings, there was no visible problem in Mortal Combat but we seen some legging in GRID 2 pre race slidings and credits but let us tell you that there was no problem during the racing in GRID 2 as well.Let’s have a look over the screenshots taken during game playback –

Rating : 3.5/5

Office Applications – Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Access

Although many guys calls this form factor a Entertainment Device but we seen more than just Entertainment in this. Actually after installing Window 7 on this ,we felt no limitation at any stage during all 3 days. So on third day we installed Microsoft Office suite on this. We used Microsoft Excel and Access for about 4 hours with all advanced functionality of both the applications. It gave the same results as we were expecting from this. As it was performance blaster in last 2  tests, it was even more efficient in this test.

Rating : 4.5/5

Noise & Heating

There was no listenable noise in this ZBOX even keeping my ear on this. Really it is completely silent machine. There is proper heat management system in this model as well. There is full length ventilation point in back panel and half size point in left side. We ran it for continuous 9-10 hours each day for all 3 days. We felt no noticeable heat issue according to our weather condition. It was running at 5-6 Degree temperature above than that when we started the machine. So really it has very good Heat management system in built.

Rating : 4.5/5

Cost

At price tag of £424.99 (Plus) or £224.99 (Barebones) , it is really a steal. The performance and features it have, the price is really justified. you will praise your decision to buy this ZBOX.

FINAL WORDS ON THIS ZBOX

ZOTAC has impressed us no end here at Verdis Reviews with their consistent high quality and performance coolers. In this regard the AQ02 no different achieving some very solid performance despite the smaller build making it ideal for home and office use.

The noise levels are also quite good with equally heat management system.

If only the price was a little lower? Yes, ZOTAC do charge a premium for their products but at least they really are the cream of the crop and in our opinion well worth the little extra as in effect you are getting one all-in-one super product – great job ZOTAC!

Pros

  • Good performance
  • Includes Wi-Fi
  • Very high build quality
  • Compact
  • Highly Efficient Heat Management System

Cons

  • Don’t have in-built Optical Drive (But you can use portable optical drive)
  • No OS Provided

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