Earlier this year Frore Systems unveiled its new AirJet cooling system that the startup says could offer better cooling performance in a PC than a spinning fan, while taking up less space and making less noise.

Now Zotac has unveiled the first computer to feature AirJet cooling. The Zotac ZBOX Pico PI430AJ with AirJet is a mini PC that measures 115 x 76 x 22mm (4.5″ x 3″ x 0.9″). Zotac says it’s as quiet as fanless system, while offering the best performance of any ZBOX Pico series mini PC to date thanks to its Intel Core i3-N300 processor.

That chip is a 7-watt, 8-core, 8-thread processor based on Intel’s Alder Lake-N architecture. It supports CPU speeds up to 3.8 GHz and also features Intel UHD integrated graphics with 32 execution units and support for speeds up to 1.25 GHz.

The computer’s other features include 8GB to 16GB of LPDDR5 memory, an M.2 slot for solid state storage, support for WiFi and Bluetooth and a set of ports that includes:

  • 1 x USB Type-C
  • 2 x USB 3.2 Type-A
  • 1 x microSD card reader
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 1 x DisplayPort
  • 1 x 3.5mm audio
  • 1 x Ethernet

What really sets the computer apart from other mini PCs is the AirJet system, which places small cooling chips over the processor and other components. These chips feature tiny membranes that vibrate to draw hot air in through the bottom of the module and then flush them out through the sides to be pushed out through vents in the computer.

The PI430AJ uses two AirJet Mini chips, which measure 41.5 x 27.5 x 2.8mm (1.6″ x 1.1″ x 0.1″) and weighs just 11 grams. These chips are scalable – the more you put in a device, the more cooling you get. And since they’re pretty small, you should be able to cram three or more into larger PCs including laptops for enhanced cooling.

In an interview with PC Magazine, CEO Seshu Madhavapeddy says device makers have also expressed interest in using AirJet technology in other devices like light systems, security cameras, and storage products. Just ignore his spin about it being impossible to put a Core i3 chip in a ZBOX Pico mini PC without AirJet technology: while its true that the new model has a Core i3 processor, it’s a 7-watt chip based on Intel’s Alder Lake-N architecture which is designed for cheap, low-power devices.

And a few years ago Zotac crammed a 5-watt Core i7-8500Y chip into a fanless ZBOX Pico.

Sure, the new model probably offers better cooling performance. But given Intel’s inconsistent product naming, claiming the ability to cool a Core i3 chip is kind of meaningless.

Zotac’s new PI430AJ is expected to hit the streets in the fourth quarter of 2023 for around $500, making it one of the pricier models in the ZBOX Pico line of computers. It’s unclear if that’s because of the new processor, the inclusion of Frore’s AirJet cooling technology, or something else.

press release (Zotac) (Frore)

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  1. I think the PC industry needs to standardise on the Video connection. Having both HDMI and DP is not the way to go. Most PCs are using HDMI. The benefits of DP are not enough to warrant using this type of connector. I would definitely prefer 2 x HDMI ports.

  2. Well, I’ll have to be on the lookout for a review of this thing to see how well the bellows works.
    That remark about putting the bellows into a security camera got me thinking, how about dust ingress? With fans, the answer is obvious. You can just blast it with compressed air. The fan will spin, but it’s designed to spin. I wouldn’t presume the membrane could handle a continuous blast of pressure very well. And since the bellows is apparently also the heat sink, if it gets full of dust and stops moving, there’s not even a little convection to fall back on.

  3. The potential for Airjet technology seems dubious. The CFM numbers claimed by Frore look insignificant. It seems like this cooling solution is still in same ballpark as passive cooling, and it doesn’t seem to be even remotely close to any fan cooling solution.

    My guess is that it’s only marginally better than typical fanless cooling solutions. And if that turns out to be true, I would much rather not have it at all. Why would I want increased complexity (things to break) for such a small benefit?

    I kinda wonder how this technology compares to a really good implementation of passive fanless (an aluminum case used as a heatsink). Something tells me that this technology is just being used to allow cheap plastic cases to compete with aluminum heatsink cases.

    1. From what I’ve seen, it is only capable of removing 10W of heat. For now, my preference would be to use a huge block of aluminum for a case + heatsink.
      That said, yay for an N300 device!

    1. My guess is that it relates to the cost of the power adapter itself. This thing probably needs a 15W power supply, and its much cheaper to provide a cheap 15W adapter with a barrel-connector, compared to a 15W USB adapter.

      1. If you use USB C PD you can almost not provide and adapter at all. The benefit of universal power adapters is doing away with generic adapters and all the waste that goes with it.
        According to the pics this device is only 5v. Hard to imagine a full speed PC with only 5v.
        It definitely needs to get rid of the barrel connector, the increase in price is well worth it.