Xi3 unveils palm-sized Z3ro Pro PC with dual-core x86 chip for $399

By on January 14, 2013, 3:00 PM

Although most of the attention Xi3 received during CES came courtesy of its Valve-funded Piston PC, the company also unveiled a nifty palm-sized computer late last week that's only just now cropping up in the enthusiast press. The Z3ro Pro is said to be the company's smallest offering to date, measuring a diminutive 1.87 x 4.87 x 3.62 inches (47 x 123 x 92mm) -- or about the size of a small paperback book, Xi3 notes.

Despite its size, the system packs enough horsepower to serve as a basic Windows machine, with key specs including a 64-bit dual-core x86 processor running at 1.65GHz with 2MB of L2 cache, an 80-shader integrated graphics processor, 4GB of DDR3 RAM, and 16GB to 1TB of flash storage.

Unfortunately, the company hasn't specified exactly what x86 chip the Z3ro uses, but given that the whole device only consumes about 15W, you can bet it won't replace your workstation or gaming rig. In fact, Xi3 founder and CEO Jason Sullivan kind of admits that much, saying "The Z3RO Pro Computer is the ideal size for the ultimate in small form factor x86-based general computing."

Considering its size, the system offers a decent array of connectivity, including gigabit Ethernet, four eSATAp 3.0 ports, and two display ports (one HDMI/DisplayPort v1.2 and one Mini-DisplayPort v1.2) providing support for resolutions up to 2560x1600.

The Z3ro will ship with openSUSE Linux v11.2 preinstalled, but you can reformat with your preferred x86-based operating system, including Windows 8. Xi3 says it's taking preorders immediately with prices starting at $399. Units are expected to ship in the second quarter of this year.

User Comments: 9

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Guest said:

Do they have anyone in charge of cosmetic design? Or did Apple hire the last one available?

Jesse Jesse said:

Can you guys try to get a hold of one of these for testing? I'd love to know how it is at streaming media.

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Do they have anyone in charge of cosmetic design? Or did Apple hire the last one available?

I think it has an interesting and distinct look. It doesn't look like anything else I've seen in such a tiny form factor, has multiple color options. The case is not just cosmetic, it also serves as heat sinking and is built for modularity (including some clever mounting components which easily attach to the body). So, I'm not sure what your point is... Does it not look enough like a Mac Mini for your tastes?

As for the processors, that's where I'm a bit concerned. They tout their custom board designs which separate the north bridge and south bridge, and the units that you CAN actually configure on their website are Athlon based. Looks like they use AMD for processor and GPU options, but I'm hoping they are leveraging the APUs for enhanced graphics and media performance, and not just Athlons.

St1ckM4n St1ckM4n said:

Doesn't it seem a bit expensive? I'm sure you can get a retail Windows box for that price.

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Doesn't it seem a bit expensive? I'm sure you can get a retail Windows box for that price.

The catch is, this thing is tiny. The VESA mount to attach it to the back of your monitor is probably a bigger footprint than the case itself. If you can do with having a standard box CPU, you'd never bother even looking at one of these. But as tiny footprint workstations or a kiosk environment, this is a decent (and typically cheaper) alternative to something like an all-in-one PC. Plus, it's supposedly modular and (at least semi-) serviceable.

Adhmuz Adhmuz, TechSpot Paladin, said:

First thing that comes to mind, Car PC, something this small can fit just about anywhere in a car dash, no moving parts, very low power consumption. Seems like a good idea. Aesthetics are irrelevant IMO just because where ever you do put it will likely be out of sight anyway, I like the practical aluminum heatsink unibody design it has, practical comes to mind. Price is a little steep, but its the size your paying for, yes you can buy a quad core PC with 16GB of RAM for $300 on Tigerdirect, but good luck making that look good where ever you put it.

Tekkaraiden Tekkaraiden said:

Given its size I'd be suspecting a Via processor.

ET3D, TechSpot Paladin, said:

My guess is that it's the new gen AMD APU's, probably Temash, and they can't name it because AMD hasn't yet made the specs available.

Could be a pretty neat device for someone who wants a PC in their pocket. Or just wants a nearly invisible HTPC.

I like the use of eSATAp.

Twixtea said:

Alienware X51 is way better than this in every possible aspect, looks, power, upgradeability?

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