A few weeks back, Zotac sent us a ZBox Pico PI320 Mini PCS and, for the life of me, I could find a place to start. At 115.5mm x 66mm x 19.2 mm, this mini-PC is just about the size of two iPhones on top of one another and has to be the smallest full feature PC available. No matter how much I looked at it though, an effective use for such a device seemed to escape me. I mean…. it is as true of a definition as one can get to a ‘pocket PC’ and it is a very attractive looking device, but to be completely frank, it wasn’t until I first plugged this in that I truly fell in love with the ZBox PI320. You are not going to believe the absolute genius of this concept and its final use. Stay tuned!
In this report, we are going to literally rip apart the ZBox PI320 and show you the beauty of how this is put together, but before getting to that, let’s consider components and value. First off, the PI320 is available right now at Amazon for $189, which is an absolute great deal for any PC, but wait, this one also includes Windows 8.1. Considering that Win 8.1 lists for $119, that would translate to a grand total of $70 in hardware for the remainder of the system. One might not think that this can amount to a premium quality…but wait for it.
Inside the Zotac ZBox Pico PI320, it is powered by an Intel Atom Z3735F ‘Bay Trail’ Quad Core CPU that runs at 1.33Ghz, but cab burst up to 1.83Ghz. It has 2GB DDR3-1333 memory on board, HD graphics, 10/100Mbps LAN, 802.11n WiFi, BlueTooth 4.0, but what is truly amazing is seeing this systems storage run by a Samsung 32GB eMMC 5.0 embedded flash controller.
Add to this stereo audio, HDMI, a micro SDHC/XC card reader capable of up to 64GB, ethernet port, headphone jack along with 3x USB 2.0 ports, and the Zotac ZBox PI320 has more features than are found in many full size PCs today. WE can tell you something it doesn’t have and that is a fan; the PI320 is completely silent and only gets a bit warm to the touch in use.
ZOTAC ZBOX PI320 WALKAROUND
Taking a look at the right end (depending on how you place it of course), we have the power switch, followed by LAN port. 2 x USB 2.0 inputs and a headphone jack. Remembering that the PI320 has Bluetooth 4.0, plugging in a keyboard and mouse may be as simple as the BT connection which leaves these ports free.
Looking at the other side, we have a microSDHC/SDXC card slot (capable of cards up to 64GB), along with another USB port, HDMI and the power adapter input. The microSD card slot is integral to this unit as their is only 32GB of total storage onboard. This storage was reduced 25GB formatted, and then the pre-configured OS reduced it a further 4GB, allowing us only 21GB onboard memory to play with. The good part of this is that 21GB is plenty of room to throw a popular software package such as Microsoft Office on to the SSD.
Taking a look at accessories, we can see that Zotac includes a universal power plug, AC adapter, mounting bracket along with screws, Windows 8.1 Recovery DVD, Warranty Card, Users and Quick Start Manuals with the PI320. Warranty coverage is 1 year from the date of purchase and there is also a very detailed guide for Windows 8.1 recovery, should it ever be necessary. This is rather clever as many systems DO NOT include recovery DVDs and the buyer must follow instructions on their new PC to create such.
Keeping in mind that the Zotac ZBox Pico PI320 does not come with a keyboard, mouse or monitor, these are all add-ons that one must consider. Considering that one can pick up a Logitech wireless keyboard and mouse for $19, and the HDMI can be plugged into any television, one could have this system up and running for less than $220. For our test purposes, we simply placed it on top of our X99 Test Bench, unhooked the HDMI, keyboard and mouse from that and plugged in the PI320.
Initial system installation was next and that was very simple. With a simply push of the power button on the PI320, Windows 8.1 began its setup and asked for our WiFi password accordingly. From there we were up and running within minutes. It was really that easy.
Takeaways from this first part of the report might be value, but the two things that really impressed us were the simplicity in set up and complete silence of the system. Let’s rip it apart!