Improved, But is it Better?
The Intel NUC mini-PC is an interesting product and concept. Performance is not one of its strong suits, but in terms of actual user experience, the NUC mini-PC was actually pretty pleasant. Obviously, both of this had to do with the fact that it had a speedy mSATA SSD, which made things brisk and responsive.
Unfortunately, the Intel NUC mini-PC was let down by its poor connectivity options, which made the device difficult to use. The fact that it only had three USB ports and no audio output jack meant that users would need to think of workarounds to make it work. And finally, there was the price and the extra effort required to source for components such as the wireless card and mSATA SSD.
The Zotac ZBOX nano ID65 sought to right these wrongs and it is successful for the most part. We especially appreciate its generous offerings of ports and connectivity options. The numerous USB ports and inclusion of standard audio jacks make it a much more user-friendly device.
Installation was simple and the ability to accommodate standard 2.5-inch drives and the inclusion of the Wi-Fi card also makes it easy for users to source for parts. And when you consider that the Zotac achieves all this without being drastically larger than the Intel NUC mini-PC makes it all the more impressive.
In terms of performance, the Zotac ZBOX nano ID65 clearly suffers from its single-memory channel implementation. The discrepancy was not obvious on PCMark 7 and certainly wasn’t obvious in normal usage scenarios such as web browsing and word processing. However, we noticed that the Zotac performed significantly poorer on our gaming benchmarks. For those who do intend to do some light gaming, its disappointing gaming performance is something you should take note of.
Price-wise, the Zotac ZBOX nano ID65 comes in at S$744. However, you must remember that this is a barebones kit. Depending on your choice of OS and components, you could easily end up with a final price in excess of S$1000. A copy of Windows 8 costs around S$130, while a decent 128GB SSD costs upwards of $150. You could opt for a cheaper mechanical hard disk drive, but that would greatly reduce performance.
For S$1000, there are more powerful and affordable alternatives out there. And even if you are dead set on getting a mini-PC, Apple’s Mac Mini is simply too attractive an option not to be considered. It might be considerably larger in foot print, but he entry-level Mac Mini retails for just S$788, and it comes fully equipped and is ready to run out of the box.
All in all, the Zotac ZBOX nano ID65 mostly improves on the shortcomings of the Intel NUC mini-PC, but fortunately, it also has its shortcomings. Its single-channel memory implementation greatly impedes graphics performance. In addition, it also falls into the same price trap as the Intel NUC mini-PC. This makes it still a niche product that will only appeal to a specific group of users with their own specific needs.