February 28, 2024
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To those who may not know, Zotac is primarily a graphics card manufacturer exclusively licensed by Nvidia to design and sell video cards based on their GPU designs, however, that is not their only product line. Zotac is also reputed for their Small Form-Factor PCs. Today, they are expanding on their lineup of mini-PCs by introducing their first PC-on-a-Stick, their smallest PCs yet, the Zbox PI220 and PI221.


Zotac Zbox PI221's Box



These PCs have a configuration and theoretical performance similar to Intel’s own Compute Stick, featuring one HDMI out and one USB 3.0 (which is essentially the only difference in the ports, since the Compute Stick has 2 of them). The Zotac PI Sticks have one major advantage, however, the inclusion of an RJ45 socket, allowing wired internet connectivity in the absence of wifi.

Zotac Zbox PI220's ports


The PI220 has a potential advantage over the Compute Sticks, thanks to the inclusion of a fan, which is missing on some, if not all, models of the Compute Stick, allowing for better cooling than the latter’s passive cooling setup. However, the PI221 is entirely fanless, featuring a passive cooling system.


Zotac Zbox PI220's top. Notice the small fan for cooling.


Zotac Zbox PI221's top. Notice the absence of a fan.


The internal hardware of the Zbox line is fairly similar to the Compute Stick, as well. Both of Zotac’s devices and the Compute Stick use an Intel Atom X5-Z8300 Cherry Trail SoC with four Airmont CPU cores. The CPU cores have a base frequency of 1.44 GHz and a turbo boost speed of 1.84 GHz. DDR3L (2 GB) clocked at 1600 MHz is connected to the SoC over a single-channel 64-bit memory interface, providing the system with 12.8 GB/s of bandwidth.


Zotac Zbox PI221's box contents

Zotac’s primary competitor in this market space is Intel. There are other competing products such as the Lenovo Ideacentre Stick 300, but this device is at a disadvantage compared to Intel’s second generation Compute Stick and Zotac’s Zbox PI220 and PI221. Zotac has not yet confirmed when the Zbox PCs will be available or what they will be priced at.



                                                                       Comparing available USB PCs
Product Zotac ZBox PI220 Zotac ZBox PI221 Intel Compute Stick (Second Gen) Lenovo Ideacentre Stick 300
Memory 2 GB DDR3L-RS1600 2 GB DDR3L-RS1600 2 GB LPDDR3 Up To 2 GB
Storage 32 GB Onboard eMMC 32 GB onboard eMMC 32 GB Onboard eMMC Up To 32 GB
CPU Intel Cherry Trail Atom X5-Z8300 Processor (Quad-core 1.44 GHz, Up To 1.88 GHz) Intel Cherry Trail Atom X5-Z8300 Processor (Quad-core 1.44 GHz, Up To 1.88 GHz) Intel Cherry Trail Atom X5-Z8300 Processor (Quad-core 1.44 GHz, Up To 1.88 GHz) Intel Bay Trail Atom Z3735F Processor (Quad-Core 1.33 GHz, Up To 1.83 GHz)
GPU Intel HD Graphics Intel HD Graphics Intel HD Graphics Intel HD Graphics
Display Options 1 x HDMI 1 x HDMI 1 x HDMI 1 x HDMI
Card Reader 3-in-1 (SD/SDHC/SDXC) 3-in-1 (SD/SDHC/SDXC) 3-in-1 (SD/SDHC/SDXC) 3-in-1 (SD/SDHC/SDXC)
Etdernet 10/100 Mbps 10/100 Mbps None None
Wi-Fi 802.11ac + Bluetootd 4.0 802.11ac + Bluetootd 4.0 Dual-Band 802.11ac + Bluetootd 4.0 802.11n + Bluetootd 4.0
USB Port(s) 1 x USB 3.0 1 x USB 3.0 1 x USB 3.0
1 x USB 2.0
Audio Headphone
DirectX Support 12 12 12 11
HDCP Yes Yes Yes Yes
Supported OS Windows 10 32-Bit Windows 10 32-Bit Windows 10 Windows 10
tdermal Solution Smart Active Micro Fan Passively Cooled Passively Cooled Passively Cooled