Final Thoughts

With an outstanding form factor, including a slim-line slot loading Blu-ray drive, the ZOTAC ZBOX AD03BR-PLUS-U delivers on Fusion’s promise of an affordable, capable, low power HTPC. With an MSRP of $519 (street ~$512), it is possible to DYI an E-350 system with similar media capabilities for a bit less; however, but matching the size and overall attractiveness and flexibility of the ZBOX would be impossible to do economically. The form factor is demanding, with limited I/O and future expandability, so it is not the right fit for every scenario—especially those where a stronger CPU is required. That said, as a client HTPC or standalone media streamer the E-350’s balance of CPU + GPU provides a good mix of performance and power consumption.


  • Form factor
  • Power usage
  • Mountable
  • Multi-channel LPCM/HD Audio support from an AMD IPG


  • Video levels can be difficult to get right
  • Limited I/O ports and expandability
  • Fan can get a bit loud under heavy load
  • Heavy network use causes the NIC to stress the CPU

Thanks to ZOTAC for providing the review sample.

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  • dagamer34 - Thursday, June 9, 2011 - link

    Needs built-in IR, and then we can call it an HTPC.
  • amdhunter - Saturday, June 11, 2011 - link

    You can always use a vnc based remote control program with your Android or iPhone.
  • Khato - Thursday, June 9, 2011 - link

    There's been a troubling trend of late in a number of Anandtech articles where testbed configurations are not even mentioned in passing. While it's not as important here for the most part, when it comes to a comparison of power consumption, especially at low levels, the power supply used can play a larger part than the CPU. With the information available in this article, the conclusion would be that the E-350 based ZBOX is very efficient and an excellent low power choice... Whereas an article on another site that compared similarly configured systems using the same power supply had an E-350 at 100% CPU load at 23.9 watts while the same load on an i3 2100T was only at 33.6 watts. As well, the i3 2100T system actually idled a bit lower, 9.8 watts vs 12.8 for the E-350.

    It's details like that that make me quite interested to see what Zotac could come up with in terms of a sandy bridge based ZBOX.
  • zupzop - Thursday, June 9, 2011 - link

    The article of xbitslabs entitled "every watt counts" you refer to, is completely misleading. If every watt would count they would have compared the E350 with the economical MSI board (they tested themselves), rather than with the energy wasting Gigabyte board.against the i3 2300. If you look for the MSI E350 on the xbitlabs pages you can verify for yourself that is consumes less power than the i3 2100 in every test reported
    (of course, given the testbed configuration used for the i3 2100).

    Xbitlab data:
    Power consumption:
    Test -> Idle, CPU-B , GPU-B, CPU+GPU B
    E350 + MSI 7.3 15.8 17.5, 22.1
    E350 + Gigabyte 12.8, 23.9, 27.7, 31.2
    i3 2100 9.7, 33.6, 22.8, 38.9

    (see )
    (and )
  • Khato - Thursday, June 9, 2011 - link

    Thanks for the further information. It's another excellent example of how the testbed configuration at these power consumption levels can have a marked effect upon how a product compares.
  • duploxxx - Friday, June 10, 2011 - link

    xbitlabs also forgets that only for the price of the i3 2300T you can buy the brazos board+cpu......

    lets see how they fare soon against the E2and A4 launch LIano, in the end that is where an i3 should be compared with.
  • octagonalman - Friday, June 10, 2011 - link

    Xbitlabs didn't forget that - the price difference is mentioned clearly in the conclusion.
  • burntham77 - Friday, June 10, 2011 - link

    Just another reason why I have become a fan of MSI.
  • duploxxx - Friday, June 10, 2011 - link

    Regarding the review:
    This is a design build for home consumers, so therefore first of all this should have been compared against those in the same class... Atom and ION like builds i.s.o these stupid compares with desktop parts. Sure those might have also a good low power and performance quality but then you get into the self-made designs with personal touches.
    THis is becomming a habbit for anandtech site, compare with what needs to be compared, it's always possible to find a cpu and gpu that will do things in a more performing way, if you want to review the ultimate self-made htpc , start building a few and compare those against each other.

    THe reason why no provider will put a SNB inthere is first of all the price it will be much much more expensive from a cpu and mobo point of view to build and secondly since although those cpu are low power consumption they have a much higher TDP range which will force them to build and design towards the actual TDP..... not some homebrew user who makes something (which will never be that thin btw) and doesn't care about rated TDP, when intel will release lower power cpu there will also be again a pricetag.
  • Randomblame - Thursday, June 9, 2011 - link

    I just put together an htpc in the bedroom from the pile of broken acer laptops I have. It is just the bottom of the laptop without a battery and a few of the bottom covers have been replaced with patches of duct tape but it's small, quiet, efficient, powerful enough to stream movies off my desktop, and the best part is it has a keyboard and touchpad built in - small footprints ftw

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