Zotac ZBox CI331 nano: review of the mini PC

This mini PC is so small that it fits in a jacket pocket and easily disappears behind the monitor: the Zotac ZBox CI331 nano is barely larger than a stack of CDs. Is there enough power in there? The test by COMPUTER BILD clarifies that.

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A mini to customize

Typical Mini-PC: The Zotac ZBox CI331 nano is a “barebone” – here many, but not all, components of the computer are already in the case ex works. The ZBox CI331 nano is therefore also available from many retailers without memory and operating system. Then it costs around 250 euros. It came to the test equipped with working memory, SSD and installed operating system (Windows 11 Pro). Interested parties have to plan around 410 euros (price at the time of testing) for the configuration.

Zotac ZBox CI331 nano connectors

A large part of the connections of the Zotac ZBox CI331 nano are on the back, including two network sockets and three connections for monitors (HDMI, DP and VGA).

No sprinter

The processor in the Zotac ZBox CI331 nano is a pretty comfortable one: The Celeron N5100 comes from the Jasper Lake series. Although the chip has four cores, it does not deliver a particularly high speed – that enough for office programs and surfing the net. If you want to use performance-hungry software – for example for photo or video editing – it is better to avoid the Zotac. This is not only due to the weak processor, but also to the meager memory equipment: With 4 gigabytes of working memory (RAM) and an SSD with 119 gigabytes of usable memory, it is quite tight.

Something else fits in there

It’s hard to believe, but something else fits into the midget PC: one Hard drive or SSD in 2.5 inch format and another memory module. And if necessary, the built-in SSD can be replaced with a larger model. Here you have to choose carefully, because the faster M.2 models with NVMe technology do not fit in the Zotac, only the slightly slower, but cheaper M2-SSD with SATA technology – but they are fast enough for the Zotac.
Zotac ZBox CI331 nano monitor mount

A bracket can be screwed to the underside of the Zotac ZBox CI331 nano, with which you can hide the mini PC behind the monitor if you wish.

Ear balm

A real advantage of the weak processor in the Zotac ZBox CI331 nano: it consumes so little power that it produces hardly any waste heat – a fan in the mini PC is therefore superfluous. Thereby the Zotac always works silently. Ideal for concentrated work, a fan noise never annoys even very noise-sensitive users.

Office and web application speed / video, photo and 3D edits

Game speed Full HD / 4K (frames per second, FPS for short)

Tempo of the built-in data storage

Maximum USB speed on mini PC / on external SSD (connector)

RAM (built-in / expandable to maximum)

SSD Storage / Hard Drive Storage

Free Extensions / Power Supply (Performance)

Connections and data connections in front

Connections and data connections at the back

Included programs (without trial versions)

VOLUME AND POWER CONSUMPTION

Operating noise (when working / under full load)

Power consumption in normal application operation / maximum / in the annual mix (at 33 cents per kWh)

Quality and operation of the keyboard / keyboard lighting / standard layout / navigation keys standard size / connection

Quality and operation of the mouse / scrolling / additional buttons / connector

Biometric access locks

low (47.6%) / too low (9.1%)

too low (4 FPS) / too low (0 FPS)

200 / 154.1 MB per second (USB-A 3.2 Gen. 1)

very little (4 GB (1x 4 GB) / 64 GB (2x 32 GB), complete exchange necessary)

very little (119 GB, SSD-Sata, Intel) / –

1x 2.5″ hard disk / not specified

1x microphone, 1x headphones, 1x USB 3.2 Gen. 1 Type-C, 1x USB-A 3.2 Gen. 1

Monitor outputs: 1x HDMI, 1x DP (can be used simultaneously), 1x network (1 Gbit), 2x USB-A 3.2 Gen. 1, 1x USB 2.0

Wifi 5 (ac) / Version 5.2

Windows 11 Professional N

14 watts / 25 watts / 45kWh (15.00 euros)

Connections? Front and back

In many mini PCs, the sockets are on the back. Usually only the power button is on the front. Pretty impractical when you need to quickly plug in a USB stick or an external SSD. No problem with the Zotac ZBox CI331 nano. Here there are two USB sockets on the front, one of which is in the modern USB-C format. There is also a slot for SD cards and two 3.5 mm jacks for headphones and microphone. Anything that needs to be permanently wired can be connected to the back, a keyboard, for example, to the USB 2.0 socket, a monitor is allowed optionally via HDMI, Displayport or VGA deliver image signals. Input devices are not included in the Zotac’s scope of delivery; you can find recommended models in the keyboard-mouse combo test.
  • Extremely small
  • Very low power consumption
  • Slow pace
  • Very little memory on the SSD

Test conclusion Zotac ZBox CI331 nano

Of the Zotac ZBox CI331 nano (Test score 3.6) collects plenty of points in sustainability, because it allows the exchange of RAM and SSD and consumes very little power: With 14 watts, it is a real economy champion. The built-in energy-saving processor does not need a fan, but it is also a weakness of the Zotac: Its power is sufficient for office and Internet – but not for more.

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