Zotac has been selling pocket-sized computers under the ZBOX Pico brand for nearly a decade, but the new ZBOX Pico PI430AJ is the most powerful to date, thanks to an Intel Core i3-N300 octa-core processor.
While that’s a relatively efficient 7-watt processor that’s part of Intel’s Alder Lake-N family, it can still generate a reasonable amount of heat in a computer as small as a ZBOX Pico. So while most of the computers in this line are fanless, Zotac tapped Frore’s AirJet technology for this model, offering active cooling in a compact, silent package.
Zotac first announced plans for the little computer earlier this year, and now the company says it’s available in select regions in two configurations:
- ZBOX Pico PI430AJ barebones system with 8GB of LPDDR5 memory, but no storage or operating system
- ZBOX Pico PI430AJ Windows system with 8GB of LPDDR5 memory and a 512GB NVMe SSD
Both models have an M.2 2280 slot with support for PCIe 3.0 NVMe or SATA drives, which means the storage is user replaceable, with support for drives up to 4TB. But since the LPDDR5 memory is soldered to the mainboard, you’re stuck with 8GB no matter which model you opt for.
The computer measures 115 x 76 x 24mm (4.5″ x 3″ x 0.9″) and the chassis has a volume of just 0.21 liters. That makes it smaller, (but thicker) than most modern smartphones, but it’s a full-fledged computer with support for Windows 11 or GNU/Linux operating systems and a set of ports that includes:
- 1 x HDMI 2.0
- 1 x DisplayPort 1.4
- 1 x Gigabit Ethernet
- 1 x USB 3.2 Type-C
- 2 x USB 3.2 Type-A
- 1 x 3.5mm audio
- 1 x microSD card reader
Zotac says the system supports up to three 4K displays if you use both dedicated video ports plus the USB-C port, and there’s also built-in support for WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2.
But aside from the move to a Core i3-N300 processor, the key thing that sets this computer apart from other ZBOX Pico systems is the solid state active cooling, which comes courtesy two AirJet Mini modules, which have membranes that vibrate at high frequencies to move air quickly through the system to help dissipate heat without the need for spinning fans.
The upshot is that the ZBOX Pico PI430AJ should run at cooler temperatures than a similarly-sized system that uses only passive cooling, but since there’s no fan to make noise, the computer should be silent during operation.
Zotac says the active cooling solution allows the Core i3-N300 processor to offer “longer sustained performance” than a passively cooled solution as well.