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Mini PC has new AMD CPU, slot-loading Blu-ray

Jan 4, 2011 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 2 views

Zotac announced a mini PC featuring AMD's 1.6GHz, dual-core E-350, with support for HD video and DirectX 11-compatible gaming. The Zbox AD03 includes an integral slot-loading Blu-ray drive, both Wi-Fi and Ethernet, and is available either barebones or with 2GB of DDR3 memory and a 250GB hard disk drive, the company says.

Zotac has previously released a variety of home theater-oriented PCs, including the Atom- and Ion 2-equipped Zbox HD-ID11 from March 2009. The HD-ID33BR-U and HD-ID34BR-U released last October added an integral Blu-ray drive and adopted slimline styling that made the systems resemble stereo components.

Zotac's AD03
(Click to enlarge)

The HD-ID33BR-U and HD-ID34BR-U employed Intel's dual-core Atom D525, along with Nvidia's Ion 2 GPU (graphics processing unit). Now, the visually identical AD03 (above) moves to AMD's newly announced, 1.6GHz E-350, whose on-chip graphics are said to provide HD video playback and DirectX 11 compatibility.

As a result of the processor switch, the AD03 has the potential to provide much the same capabilities as the HD-ID33BR-U and HD-ID34BR-U, but at a lower price. While it didn't provide any information on the latter, Zotac called the AD03 a "potent casual gaming platform" and touted "smooth streaming high-definition video."

Meanwhile, a hallmark of Zotac devices is that they allow purchasers to install their own memory, hard disk drives (HDDs), and operating systems. Like its predecessors, the AD03 is available in a completely barebones configuration (including only the case, main board, and Blu-ray drive), or in a version with 2GB of RAM onboard and a 250GB HDD. As such it should support any x86-compatible OS, including Linux.

The device's front panel, visible in the image earlier in this story, includes one USB 2.0 port and one USB 3.0 port, plus what appears to be a memory card reader. Also up front are 3.5mm jacks for a microphone input and headphone output.

The rear panel on Zotac's earlier HD-ID3xBR-U
(Click to enlarge)

Zotac didn't provide an image of the AD03's rear panel, nor does it yet offer a product page for the device. We're presuming, however, that the mini PC's rear panel is similar or identical to that of the HD-ID3xBR-U, pictured above. Seen there are another USB 3.0 port, a combo eSATA/USB 2.0 port that allows connecting external hard disk drives, and an optical S/PDIF connector.

The HD-ID33BR-U and HD-ID34BR-U featured HDMI and DVI-I video outputs, gigabit Ethernet ports, and internal 802.11b/g/n wireless networking, according to Zotac. The 11.02 x 7.36 x 1.5 inch systems also had a Mini PCI Express expansion slot, which may or may not have been carried over to the AD03.

Carsten Berger, marketing director for Zotac, stated, "The AMD E-350 APU platform combined with our Zbox form factor is a phenomenal small form factor solution. The snappy day-to-day performance, superb high-definition video, and DirectX 11 3D capabilities makes it perfect for users that crave energy-efficiency without sacrificing premium features and capabilities."

Further information

More information on the AD03 may eventually appear on Zotac's Zbox product page. A detailed, generally favorable review of the HD-ID33BR-U and HD-ID34BR-Usystems may be found on the AnandTech website.

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