ZOTAC ZBOX Nano CI540 Plus Review

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Introduction

Manufacturer: ZOTAC
Model: CI540 Plus
RRP: £360 (At time of review)

The move towards low-power and small devices within the computer industry is accelerating like never before and to keep up with that trend today we have another Zotac ZBOX to review in the form of the Nano CI540 Plus. Following on from our ZOTAC Sphere review, the Nano CI540 Plus (from here on Nano) goes one step further in the size reduction department, resembling a household router, and is based on Intel’s reference NUC design.

Specifications wise there is little to differentiate the Nano and the Sphere. There is some clock speed difference and our Nano Plus comes with a more realistic 64GB SSD rather than the 840 RAID setup used in our Sphere review – the Nano is also limited to one SATA device. There is only one RAM slot, too, whereas the Sphere could fit two DIMMs. Beyond this, though, the only other difference on the hardware front is the shape of the chassis itself.

Specifications

Product Name ZBOX CI540 nano Plus
GPU Intel HD Graphics 4200
Name Intel Core i5 4210Y (dual-core, 1.5 GHz) Intel Turbo Boost up to 1.9 GHz
Memory Type DDR3L
Memory Speed 1600 MHz
Slots 1 x 204-pin SODIMM
Capacity 4GB (up to 8GB)
DirectX DirectX 11.1
OpenGL OpenGL 4.3
Ethernet 10/100/1000Mbps
WiFi 802.11ac + Bluetooth 4.0
Analog Stereo output
Digital 8-ch via DVI-HDMI adapter, S/PDIF
Hard Drive 64GB SSD (2.5-inch)
Memory Card Reader 3-in-1 (SD/SDHC/SDXC)
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 2 USB 3.0 (back panel) 5 USB 2.0 (3 on back panel, 2 front)
Cooler Smartfan
Windows User installed (Windows 7/8 ready)
Graphics Output 1 HDMI / 1 DisplayPort
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

What ZOTAC say about the CI540:

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.

On the surface there appears to be little separating the Nano form the Sphere other than the details mentioned up above, even the clock speed difference between the devices isn’t huge. The Nano can be mounted to a monitor, or a wall, with the included VESA mount, meaning you can have a truly compact computing experience that even the Sphere can’t match. Perhaps that’s the whole point – it’s clear the Sphere is meant to be seen, whilst the Nano appears to be the opposite, whilst trying to retain as much of the performance as possible. Time to see if it does just that…

 

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