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Before we could get our hands on the netbooks sporting second generation of Atom processors from Intel codenamed Cedar Trail, ZOTAC sent us its now-famous ZBOX units. The ZBOX PLUS ID80 is the first ZBOX to sport the Intel Cedar Trail D2700 processors. The Cedar trail platform was announced towards the end of December last year, and is a significant shift from the previous Atom Pinetrail platform.
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For starters the clock speeds have improved and also the GPU clock speeds have seen a great bump from the ones seen on Pine Trail N570 processor. Also the manufacturing process has moved from 45nm to 32nm. Currently there are three processors in the Cedar Trail lineup namely N2600, N2800 and D2700, the N implying for netbooks and D for Desktops. Going by the naming conventions, the TDP for N2600 is 5W, N2800 is 8W and D2700 is 10W.
Design and Features
Design wise the ZBOX looks like any other ZBOXes we have tested in the past. It has the blue coloured circular orb on its front black glossy face. The vent for the fan section is located on the top whereas the front and rear portion have the battery of port connections. In the front you have a single USB port, an SD card slot and the audio and mic jacks. Power button is located at the top. Coming to the rear side and starting from the top you have - the Wifi port, two USB 3.0 ports, a LAN port, two USB 2.0 ports, a DVI port, an HDMI port and the power jack. That was quite a mouthful.
Build quality is quite sturdy even though its a plastic body and we liked the stand that ZOTAC have provided so that the system is held vertically in place. The glossy surface is a finger-print and dust magnet.
It houses an Intel Atom D2700 dual-core processsor clocked at 2.13 GHz alongwith 2GB of DDR3 RAM, 320GB hard drive and a discrete graphics solution - NVIDIA GT 520M. It also bundles in quite a lot of goodies such as a WiFi antenna, a Windows Media player remote control and an IR receiver for the same.
Media Centre Remote control
Read more about the Performance of the ZOTAC ZBOX ID80 PLUS on the next page, along with our verdict...
As expected, the performance from the ZBOX is not very impressive thanks to the low power processor. It was definitely found to be better than the older generation PineTrail Atom processors, but the scores were quite similar to the ones offered by the AMD E350 processor based systems.
PC Mark Vantage gave an overall score of 2575 whereas for the E350 CPU we got 2550. Cinebench R10 multi-core rendering was found to be slightly better in the D2700 (at 2600 marks) over the E350 (at 2030 marks). Unigine Heaven 2.5 benchmark was dismal at 1680x1050, Normal Tesellation, giving an overall score of 110 and a frame rate of 4.4 FPS. Gaming wise also we could get barely playable frame rates - 11 FPS - even at 1280x1024 resolution for Resident Evil 5 at Medium settings.
HD videos were played back flawlessly. The CPU consumption only spiked in the first couple of seconds of starting the HD movie, but then it tapered down and hovered in the 5-7 percent zone, which is quite good as compared to previous generation Atom processors where CPU consumption easily crossed 15-20 percent at HD playback. Also it has support for HDMI 1.4a which implies support for 3D content.
Wi-Fi connectivity is not an issue once the drivers are installed. It also support Bluetooth v3.0 so you can wireless transfer files from your bluetooth devices to the ZBOX and vice versa. The Windows Media Centre remote is quite well built with responsive buttons. The DivX encoding took just over 2 minutes which was better than that on the E350 platform. As of now you cannot use the integrated graphics as the DVI and HDMI ports are directly wired onto the GT 520M. Also the ZOTAC site has no drivers for integrated graphics.
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The ZOTAC ZBOX Plus ID80 is a definite improvement over the Atom Pinetrail based processors, but it gives a performance which is similar to The AMD E350 processors which were launched last year. It is great for media consumption, watching TV, watching HD content alongwith casual web surfing, working on office documents, etc. Gaming is possible only of lower resolutions - we are talking 1024x768 and lower. Features like Wi-Fi support, SD card slot, Bluetooth and USB 3.0 ports are quite good. At a price point of Rs. 19999, we felt it to be slightly on the higher side. Around Rs. 16000 to Rs. 17000, this makes for a decent buy provided your needs are moderate.