Introduction and Setup Impressions

Over the last couple of years, mini-PCs in the ultra-compact form factor (UCFF) have emerged as one of the bright spots in the troubled PC market. Zotac is no stranger to this segment. In fact, their nano xs units came to the market before the Intel NUC, even though the NUC is credited with kickstarting the UCFF trend. Intel's Bay Trail family of SoCs has proved to be an affordable and low-power candidate for UCFF PC units. We have already evaluated a couple - the actively cooled GIGABYTE BXBT-1900 and and the fanless ECS LIVA.

The low power nature of the Bay Trail SoCs makes them very amenable to passively cooled systems. Zotac introduced the C-Series passively cooled PCs last year. It also includes a Bay Trail-based unit, the ZBOX CI320 nano. We have already looked at the ZBOX CI540 nano (based on Intel Haswell-Y) and ZBOX CA320 nano (based on AMD Temash) in detail. The build and feature set of the ZBOX CI320 nano are very similar.

Even though we were sampled the barebones version, we took the RAM and SSD from our ZBOX CA320 nano PLUS to get the system up and running. The CI320 nano PLUS is also one of the popular models from Zotac to come with Windows 8.1 Plus Bing - a Microsoft initiative to cut down on licensing costs for OEMs making certain types of computing devices. Bundled with a Windows 8.1 license, the CI320 nano PLUS costs less than $260. This is much cheaper than what one would pay for a Windows 8.1 license if they were to purchase the barebones unit (around $140) and the RAM / SSD separately. The specifications of our Zotac ZBOX CI320 nano review configuration are summarized in the table below.

Zotac ZBOX CI320 nano Specifications
Processor Intel Celeron N2930
(4C/4T x 1.83 GHz, 22nm, 2MB L2, 7.5W TDP, 4.5W SDP)
Memory 1x 4GB DDR3L-1600
Graphics Intel HD Graphics
Disk Drive(s) FORESEE 64 GB 2.5" SSD
Networking 1x Gigabit Ethernet, 1x1 802.11ac/Bluetooth mPCIe
Audio Capable of 5.1/7.1 digital output with HD audio bitstreaming (HDMI)
Operating System Retail unit is barebones, but we installed Windows 8.1 Pro x64
Pricing (Win 8.1 Plus Bing) $257
Full Specifications Zotac ZBOX CI320 nano PLUS with Windows 8.1 with Bing

Our Zotac ZBOX CI320 nano kit didn't come with any pre-installed OS, but it did have a CD and a read-only USB key containing the drivers. In any case, we ended up installing the latest drivers downloaded off Zotac's product support page. In addition to the main unit, the other components of the package include a 40 W (19V @ 2.1A) adapter, a US power cord, a VESA mount (along with the necessary screws), a single 2.4 GHz / 5 GHz antenna for the Wi-Fi feature, a driver CD / read-only USB key, user's manual and a quick-start guide. The gallery below takes us around the hardware in the unit.

In the table below, we have an overview of the various systems that we are comparing the Zotac ZBOX CI320 nano against. Note that they may not belong to the same market segment. The relevant configuration details of the machines are provided so that readers have an understanding of why some benchmark numbers are skewed for or against the Zotac ZBOX CI320 nano when we come to those sections.

Comparative PC Configurations
Aspect Zotac ZBOX CI320 nano
CPU Intel Celeron N2930 Intel Celeron N2930
GPU Intel HD Graphics Intel HD Graphics
RAM Crucial CT51264BF160B (Micron 8KTF51264HZ-1G6J1)
11-11-11-28 @ 1600 MHz
1x4 GB
Crucial CT51264BF160B (Micron 8KTF51264HZ-1G6J1)
11-11-11-28 @ 1600 MHz
1x4 GB
Storage FORESEE S600S064G
(64 GB; 2.5in SATA 6Gb/s; MLC)
(64 GB; 2.5in SATA 6Gb/s; MLC)
Wi-Fi Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 3160
(1x1 802.11ac - 433 Mbps)
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 3160
(1x1 802.11ac - 433 Mbps)
Price (in USD, when built, no OS) $240 $240
Performance Metrics - I
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  • Pissedoffyouth - Tuesday, January 6, 2015 - link

    I built me a mini itx the size of a bible recently, with a 65w AMD APU (A10-7800). With the L9a cooler unless under a heavy gaming load its inaudible. I recommend if your looking for a tiny PC for office work but also gaming go down that route as the performance is much better than these bay trail NUC's and similar cost.
  • BackInAction - Tuesday, January 6, 2015 - link

    What case/MB did you use?
  • Pissedoffyouth - Wednesday, January 7, 2015 - link

    Minibox m350 - the smallest case you can get. Motherboard was Asrock A88 itx - has msata which was a plus as I had no space for SSD
  • The_Assimilator - Tuesday, January 6, 2015 - link

    Maybe the performance is much better *because it consumes 8 times more power*. And there is no way that you're not experiencing throttling, if indeed you have been foolish enough to cram an AMD APU into a bible-sized enclosure.
  • Samus - Tuesday, January 6, 2015 - link

    BRIX and NUC are still amazing. We're talking 4"x4" and power on-par with a mainstream desktop, here.

    That being said, ITX is the largest format I consider anymore. My Xeon E3-1231 workstation has an Asus H87 ITX board, 16GB RAM, 480GB SSD, 6TB HDD, 2TB 2.5" HDD, NVidia GTX970, 450-watt PSU and liquid cooling built in the Silverstone FT03-mini. Although it's aluminum it weighs quite a bit just because it's literally packed...not enough room inside to fit a balled-up fist.

    But it's ultra-fast, 24/7 reliable and the size of a loaf of bread.

    NUC/BRIX is mainstream fast, 24/7 reliable and the size of a sandwich.
  • Antronman - Saturday, January 10, 2015 - link

    "Workstation build"



    Just because you use a computer for work does not make it a workstation.

    ITX isn't something everybody is interested in, because either they don't care about how much space their computer takes up or they need expansion room. Really, small form-factor PCs are a small niche. Otherwise you'd see a much larger variety in ITX boards, and a drive to make components much, much smaller.

    As for the GTX 970, unless it has the MSI ITX variant, the card itself is the size of a sandwich.
  • StevoLincolnite - Monday, January 12, 2015 - link

    Move over to Socket 2011, 64Gb+ Ram then you have a workstation.

    I laugh at your quad-core xeon and only 16Gb of Ram.

    However, you can't get that much performance in ITX.
  • Pissedoffyouth - Wednesday, January 7, 2015 - link

    It is throttling, but only under heavy gaming and I only game at 1280x1024 so it still works great. Day to day tasks never get the temps high at all
  • johnny_boy - Tuesday, January 6, 2015 - link

    That must be an enormous bible you have in mind. Even at 45W, there is no way god damned hell you're getting an A8/10 series APU into a bible-sized enclosure.
  • Samus - Tuesday, January 6, 2015 - link

    He must be talking about those bibles that sit on a pedestal that weigh 30 lbs :)

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