Review of ZOTAC ZBOX CI540 nano Plus

The new Zotac Zbox CI540 Nano Plus – is it yet another palm sized mini-pc with very few new features?

Starting off this one is passive-cooled, in other terms super silent package perfect for your multimedia tasks. ZBOX CI540 Nano Plus features a Core i5 4210Y processor (1.5GHz, dual-core) and Intel HD Graphics 4200. The plus-version comes with preinstalled 64GB SSD and 4 GB RAM. Other options in the family includes a Core i3 (CI520 Nano), a Celeron (CI320 Nano) and an AMD A6 one (CA320 Nano.

Today, when you tend to use a PC for streaming your favorite flicks and shows,do occasional surfing and other multimedia tasks you should really consider a small package like this one from Zotac. Big bulky desktop is not an option in many livingrooms and really, that time is over when it comes to HTPC or getting a multimedia PC. Sure if you are a gamer playing the latest games this package is not something to suit your gaming needs.

 

 

 

 

Specifications and Features

Zotac Zbox CI540 Nano Plus

Enjoy quiet computing in a palm-sized form factor with the ZOTAC ZBOX CI540 nano series mini-PC. The ZOTAC ZBOX CI540 nano series mini-PC features a special passive-cooled chassis that eliminates cooling fans to create zero noise for a peaceful silent computing experience.

A powerful Intel Core dual-core processor provides the ZOTAC ZBOX CI540 nano series with a comfortable amount of performance for daily web browsing, e-mail checking, productivity and multimedia tasks. Integrated 802.11ac and Gigabit Ethernet ensures the ZBOX CI540 nano series has lightning-fast wired and wireless network connectivity.

Model: ZBOX-CI540NANO-P

Product Name: ZBOX CI540 nano Plus

Chipset:
Manufacturer: Intel
Chipset: N/A
GPU: Intel HD Graphics 4200

CPU Compatibility:
Name: Intel Core i5 4210Y (dual-core, 1.5 GHz) Intel Turbo Boost up to 1.9 GHz
Socket: N/A
Frontside Bus: N/A

Memory:
Memory Type: DDR3L
Memory Speed: 1600 MHz
Slots: 1 x 204-pin SODIMM
Capacity:    4GB (up to 8GB)

Expansions:
Expansion Slots: N/A

3D API:
DirectX:    DirectX 11.1
OpenGL:    OpenGL 4.3

Networking:
Ethernet:    10/100/1000Mbps
WiFi: 802.11ac + Bluetooth 4.0

Audio:
Analog: Stereo output
Digital: 8-ch via DVI-HDMI adapter, S/PDIF

Storage:
Hard Drive: 64GB SSD (2.5-inch)
Optical Drive: N/A
Memory Card Reader: 3-in-1 (SD/SDHC/SDXC)

Ports:
DVI: N/A
HDMI: 1
DisplayPort: 1
SATA: 1 (SATA 6.0 Gb/s)
eSATA: N/A
IDE: N/A
PS2: N/A
Serial Port: N/A
USB Ports: 2x USB 2.0 on front, and 4x USB 3.0 on back
Firewire:    N/A

Cooler:
Cooler: passive cooling without cooling fan

Form Factor:
Form Factor: mini-PC

OS Compatibility:
Windows:    User installed (Windows 7/8 ready)

General:
SLI Supported: N/A
Maximum Resolution: N/A

Other:
Graphics Output: 1 HDMI / 1 DisplayPort

Packaging:
Content:    1 x ZOTAC ZBOX CI540 Plus
1 x WiFi antenna
1 x VESA mount
4 x Mounting screws
1 x AC adapter
1 x Power cord
1 x Warranty card
1 x User manual
1 x Quick Install Guide
1 x Driver disc

Price: $451.26 (from Amazon at time of review)

 

The Review

Well padded package and everything in place as expected.

3 2

1

 

Size and design

As seen below in size comparison to the Apple Iphone 4 the size of the Zotac Zbox CI540 Nano Plus is tiny!

You get one HDMI as well as one DisplayPort giving you resolutions up to 3840×2160. Only one memory slot available.

You get loads of connections for this price and the unit comes with a Vesa-mount making it possible to mount behind a monitor or TV supporting Vesa-standard.

The mini-PC market has exploded and the competition is tough but judging by first impressions this unit looks well designed and packed with loads of connections. The chassi is perforated to give this passive cooled unit as much ventilation as possible.

Weight gives a sturdy almost exclusive feel and the fit is perfect when it comes to taking the lid on and off, antenna fitting etc.

5 6

 7 9

 

Easy to setup

Mounting the WiFi antenna, HDMI-cable for the monitor and power cord is done in just a few seconds and the fit is perfect, no glitches or loose fit.

Once you hooked up the keyboard and mouse you are ready to boot the Zbox. I installed Windows 8 from a USB but any USB-enabled optical drive will do too. The Bios has Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) boot feature.

Installing Windows 8 went quickly and smooth and it was time to install drivers so I popped in the attached USB. The overall process of installing all drivers will take you about 15 minutes.

 

10

 12 13

 

CPU-Z

Looking at the idle state of the Zbox CI540. Power consumption is only 9W in idle and 31W under load.

20

 

SSD performs well

The pre-installed SSD PS3108-S8 comes from Phison Electronics Corporation.

Capacity is 60Gb and measured performance is shown below.

21

 

WiFi – speedy performace

Testing the wireless speed I got 44.42 Mbit/S down and 46.23Mbit/s up which is good considering the Zbox CI540 was mounted 40 feet away from the router. The router gives 99.5 Mbit/s down and 99.4 Mbit/s up measured by cat-5 cable.

22 23

 

CPU Temperature

I did measure a maximum of 73 degrees Celsius having the unit powered on for an hour and running some rather gentle benchmark tests. Never got above that so temperature shouldn´t be an issue. To the touch the unit never gets hot but you can feel it´s quite warm.

 

Conclusion

Passive cooled mini-PC with fast 802.11ac support, superb design and big number of connections.

 

8

 

Pros:
+ Easy to setup
+ Silent
+ Design
+ Connections

Cons:
- Not for the gamer

Grades: 8 out of 10
Overall score-8-10
Design / Aesthetic score-9-10
Value / Price score-8-10
Performance / Usage score-7-10

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