The ZOTAC Nano sits in a strange position as I suggested during the introduction. It maintains a strong resemblance to the larger Sphere in many ways with only minor differences, really, and yet I feel the Nano is the better box after my time with it.
Firstly, there is the size. The thing is tiny and the ability to mount it behind a monitor or TV is a massive boon. I mentioned in the Sphere review that it would look great as part of an AV setup, but with the Nano, you don’t even have to see it or find a way to conceal it – ZOTAC even throw the VESA mount in the box. Connect a short HDMI cable between it and your display, a small dongle for your HTPC keyboard and you’re off running a full computing experience – in silence.
Coming back to the hardware again, the difference between the Nano and the Sphere is non-existent for the most part. The difference in clock speed is unlikely to be noticeable in any real world scenarios you would be using either ZOTAC offering for and both SKUs are upgradable to the same extent. The Nano may not have the internal storage facility of the Sphere but someone looking at the Nano for a media box will likely have an external HDD they could plug into it and/or have a streaming system in place to connect the Nano to a NAS.
The price of the Nano Plus could be potential sticking point, however. An RRP of £360 (£285 for the standard edition) isn’t insignificant when you consider comparable – or even faster laptops – are available at a similar price and you need an OS on top of that, too. All things considered, the standard edition Nano is likely better value for money as quick Google shows you can double your SSD capacity for the same price as the Plus by buying the SSD and RAM yourself.
To wrap things up if you’re pondering over an Intel NUC computer for your office computer, or perhaps an HTPC, my vote would go to the Nano over the Sphere when considering our recent coverage. The Nano does everything the Sphere does in a smaller package and doesn’t lose any of the accessibility or customization options in the process. The hardware may not be the best you can get for £360, but in terms of the ‘mini’ tax it commands, is extremely competitive.
The ZOTAC Nano does everything the bigger Sphere does but in a smaller package. Unless you specifically want the Sphere for aesthetic purposes or need as much MHz as you can get in a tiny box, the Nano is the winner in the NUC category.
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