Zotac introduced a line of tiny desktop computers with low-power processors and fanless designs about a year ago. Now the company is ready for round two.

The new Zotac ZBOX CI521 nano is a fanless mini PC with an Intel Core M-5Y10c Broadwell processor.


The little computer measures about 5″ x 5.” x 1.8″ and features four USB 3.0 ports, dual Ethernet jacks, HDMI and DisplayPort, and an SD card reader as well as audio jacks, and a connector for an external antenna.

The system has an M.2 slot for solid state storage and a 2.5 inch drive bay for a hard drive or SSD. Zotac will sell a Plus model with 8GB of RAM and a 60GB M.2 SATA SSD as well as a barebones model that ships without storage or memory

Both models features 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, and support for Windows 7 or later.

The computer’s Intel Core M processor is a 4.5 watt low-power chip which should be capable of handling HD video playback and most basic computing tasks. But hopefully it won’t generate as much heat as the 11.5 watt Core i5 Haswell chip used in the older ZBOX CI540 nano.

via Zotac

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11 replies on “Zotac ZBOX CI521 nano is a mini PC with Intel Core M Broadwell”

  1. Worth noting that Fanless Tech’s problems with the heat weren’t based on any actual failure data. Just their assumptions about temperatures. The chips in these units are rated by Intel for operating at up to 100C. That’s one of the main improvements that Intel has been putting into these types of chips over the years. Making them more heat stable allows them to operate in more varied environments and form factors. Just because some people clutch their pearls in shock at chips running 80 or 90C under load doesn’t mean that it’s bad for this chip. At least assuming Intel’s own specs are to be believed. And I’d need more than Fanless Tech offered up in that link to discount Intel’s expertise on chips.

    1. Hear hear! My CI540 is one of the best ICT related purchases in years. It’s recording live tv on 4 channels simultaneously, while playing a 1080p movie. Effortlessly. Heat? It gets hot, but is not throttling as I’ve seen on atom systems.

    2. No failure rate was implied, and Intel did a fantastic job with these chips indeed.

      But keeping an ultra-low-power SoC under 100°C is hardly a technical marvel.

      1. Don’t play dumb now. Your article clearly implied that the device was a poor product based purely on the temperature without even mentioning the most basic information about the chip (like its manufacturer specified operating temperature range) much less thermal throttling or failure. Zotac isn’t in the business of making “technical marvels” and you know it. They make cheap, competent, no frills products. Leaving all this out and the fact that this thing is a fraction of the price of every other product you review makes your article pointless and misleading, excuse me, I should say your article is hardly a technology journalism marvel.

        1. I’m not a journalist, I’m an activist.

          I want fanless PCs to be successful and I want them to go mainstream. People will not buy them if they are hot, no matter how safe it is, I’m sorry.

          I applaud Zotac for bringing fanless mini-PCs to the market. I also love their connectivity options and full-size ports, but the cooling system is horrible to me. Shuttle stays under 60°C at similar prices by the way. Just cool the damn thing! ?

    1. My CI540 runs Linux just fine. I doubt the new version would change that.

  2. Very cool idea, but it’s going to have to be pretty cheap to convince me not to buy an i3 NUC.

      1. Intel’s tray prices are like MSRP. I wouldn’t believe them until I’ve seen the prices on the actual shipping retail products.

      2. I agree. I don’t know why a Core M would be attractive in this form-factor. It’s a cool idea, but a waste of money.

        The i3-5010u has the same tray price from Intel, and it outperforms it by alot.

        Aside from peak performance it will also throttle-down alot less than the Core M. The Core M only operates at peak performance a portion of the time.

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