Long gone are the days where a desktop PC consisted of a very large box sat on your desk that sounded like a plane taking off when turned on. Computers continue to get smaller, with Intel’s NUC range demonstrating what’s possible without compromising on performance. You can go smaller though, much smaller in fact, as Zotac’s Zbox PI225 proves.
The PI225 was actually launched back in September last year, but as FanlessTech points out, it’s taken until now for stock to become readily available. The most impressive thing about this Zbox is its size, coming in smaller than a 2.5-inch SSD in all but thickness. And yet, it manages to run Windows 10 Home 64-bit.
Inside, there’s a dual core Intel Apollo Lake N3350 processor running at 1.1GHz with HD Graphics 500, 4GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, and zero fans. There’s also no Ethernet port meaning you’ll be reliant on Wi-Fi without adding an adapter. Power is supplied via a micro USB port, there’s also two USB Type-C ports, and a micro SD slot to add more storage.
You’ll notice I didn’t mention a HDMI port, and that’s because the PI225 doesn’t have one integrated into its main casing. Instead, Zotac includes a Type-C to HDMI dongle, which you’ll need to have plugged into the tiny PC. Replacing one of those two USB Type-C ports with a HDMI port would have been a better idea in my opinion. However, you can get Type-C to HDMI cables for a more streamlined solution.
As you can tell from the spec, the PI225 is not going to be fast. Zotac claims it achieves 4K output at 30Hz, so for 1080p media streaming it should work fine. Zotac also includes a VESA mount bracket in the box so you can hide it away behind a display if you wish.
At $200, it’s not expensive and looks to be a step above the HDMI stick PCs in terms of performance and connectivity. Even so, the mandatory use of a dongle combined with very limited storage means the use cases are going to be quite limited.
CNX-Software carried out a thorough review of the PI225 and found it is capable of running Linux instead of Windows 10, which could help improve performance and free up storage. There’s also a Turbo mode available in the BIOS to improve overall performance, but with it enabled temperatures can increase quite a bit.