Still the most popular HTPC on the market.
Zotac are infamous for their great Zbox HTPCs, and their latest Zotac ZBOX AD06 adds yet another device to their already vast collection of miniature PCs. Sporting an updated chipset from AMD, the ZBOX A06 might not sport too many changes or upgrades, but still remains a great HTPC for anyone looking to pick one up.
Design & Build Quality
The ZBOX hasn’t changed much since the last model, so you still have the familiar and compact square design with the green power-ring glowing on top. Port-wise, the AD06 sports the power button, a USB 2.0, audio, and memory card reader in the front of the device, while more USB ports, HDMI out, Optical out, DVI, and Ethernet can be found around the back of the unit. There’s also a spare USB port at the top of the device if you’re using the device vertically.
While the ZBOX AD06 isn’t as tiny as say the ZBOX nano, it’s still a compact and versatile PC that can easily be hidden away or attached to a standard VESA mount (or to the back of a monitor using the bundled stand).
Getting under the hood of the ZBOX AD06 is extremely easy, thanks to the two thumbscrews that hold the bottom cover in place. Inside you’ll find a 320GB 2.5” drive, as well as the 2GB memory module with space to slot in another one in the future. Swapping either the hard drive or RAM is very easy, and Zotac have to be commended on making this process so easy. Finally, you also get a remote control bundled with the unit for making it easier to navigate applications such as Windows Media player, as well as a support CD containing all the necessary drivers. I really wish that Zotac starts bundling drivers on a USB stick rather than a CD, since the ZBOX doesn’t have an optical drive.
The ZBOX series have enough power in them to run basic tasks and video playback, so apart from the updated CPU there won’t be much here to wow you in the specifications. Still, the ZBOX AD06 has enough juice in it to stream HD videos and browse the web without any hassle; you can even try to squeeze a bit of Photoshop in there if you swap in an SSD to make writes to the hard drive go much faster.
Benchmarks & Performance
Performance-wise, the ZBOX AD06 does exactly what it was designed to do, and that is be an all-in one media consumption box. It’s great to stream HD content online or via the network, but apart from that you won’t be running anything major off of this box. Photoshop did install and ran fairly decently, but applying multiple effects or filters brought the program to a crawl.
At first I installed Windows 8 onto the ZBOX AD06, but that proved to be a bit of a mistake. The ZBOX was at first able to swiftly load Windows, but running more than a few apps in the background proved to be a challenge for the ZBOX. Wiping the drive and installing Windows 7 proved to be a much better alternative, or you could try out the XBMCbuntu distro which worked very well on this unit.
The ZBOX AD06 doesn’t offer anything new apart from a spiffy new APU, so if you’ve already got one of these similar boxes, you can hold of on buying this one. But if you’re in the market for a compact, quiet, and hassle-free media box, the ZBOX AD06 will work wonders for your home entertainment needs.