Zotac's minuscule Windows 11 Pro desktop PC is only slightly bigger than your phone

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 3,495   +1,040
Staff member
In a nutshell: Small form factor computers are handy for those with a small amount of workspace, or who want something that is not so big and loud as a normal sized tower PC. Zotac has revealed its first SFF computer capable of running Windows 11.

This week, computer maker Zotac revealed a tiny Windows 11 PC at Computex 2022. The Zbox PI336 Pico is a small form factor (SFF) computer about the size of an external storage device (4.5in x 3in x 0.8in). This fully capable desktop can fit right in your pocket or be tucked away behind your monitor out of sight.

The Zbox PI336 Pico minuscule chassis packs a 1.2GHz (3.0GHz boosted) Intel Celeron N6211 dual-core with UHD graphics, 4GB of LPDDR4x RAM, and 128GB of onboard storage. Connectivity options include Wi-Fi 6E, Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth 5.2, two USB 3.1 Gen2 ports, one Type-C port, a headphone/microphone combo jack, and a Micro SDHC card reader. It also has HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort 1.4 with up to 2160p resolution and supports dual-monitor setups.

The PI336 Pico comes pre-installed with Windows 11 Pro and a separate USB thumb drive for restoring the system to factory conditions or a previous state.

It's clearly not going to replace your HEDT rig or gaming PC but does make a nifty compact traveling computer. It also comes with a mounting bracket if you would rather hang it on the wall or situate it behind a monitor, making for a discrete desktop PC in the family room. The unit also doesn't need an AC brick. The slightly larger adapter just plugs straight into a wall socket.

Zotac hasn't revealed pricing yet. The previous SFF PC in the Pico line — the Zbox PI335, running Windows 10 — retailed for $230. The PI336 is an upgrade, and the chip shortage has inflated things, so this model might go for a bit higher. Zotac doesn't have a release date to reveal yet.

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seeprime

Posts: 677   +886
Dual core Celeron may be a bit painful to use But, the Passmark CPU Mark of a bit over 2000 makes me think it runs about as well as a ten year old dual core Athlon II. If the price is right, and the quality is good, maybe it'll be decent for elderly users or young kids or even taking on trips as the article indicated.
 

Lew Zealand

Posts: 2,150   +2,598
TechSpot Elite
I'd rather have a small 1kg/2# ultrabook 2C4T with a ~12" screen that's already fully featured and can be used anywhere, not just hooked up to a pre-placed Mon/KB/Mouse.
 
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Dd663

I had something kind of like this years ago. A Kangaroo Mobile Desktop with an Intel Atom quad-core processor. It was only $100. It worked well enough, even with its only 2 GB of memory, IIRC. It ran Visual Studio without apparent issues, so that's something.
 

nismo91

Posts: 1,214   +261
I really dont get why people would buy a modern celeron machine to use with windows. it's just... too slow. last-gen celeron N4500 (6W) is roughly as fast as a haswell i3-U chips (15W) which is launched 10 years ago. by desktop standard, it's a little bit below 2009 i5-750 which consumes significantly more power.

of course you can install windows 11 in it. it's just most people would not just want to install windows, they'd want to install chrome or microsoft office. just try opening two youtube tabs in chrome on top of windows 11 using celeron chip.

small barebones and NUC makes sense, because they don't use too low end of a cpu so they are actually usable. even 3-year-old chromebook makes much more sense than this crap.
 

Burty117

Posts: 4,488   +2,694
I mean, if you could get this thing cheaper by not pre-installing windows on it, if the price is right, I'd pick one up and slap Linux on it, could come in handy.
 

Irata

Posts: 2,112   +3,652
While I‘m a big fan of (ultra) small PC, this one really looks like it‘s too weak for use as a PC.

Maybe there are industrial applications like digital signage where this can be used but for personal use that should be painful.
 
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Dd663

I think the CPU is fine for the types of applications this kind of box would be used for, but IMHO 4GB RAM with Windows 11 is really pushing it. I suppose it will get by for a remote terminal and bare bones Office 365. Edge and Chrome will not be happy!
People really seem to overestimate how much RAM one needs or is used. I had a 2 GB RAM Windows 10 system like this and it could browse just fine. My current PC has 16 GB of RAM and I pretty much never come even close to using all of it. Right now, with seven tabs open in Edge, my memory usage is at 2.5 GB, with only less than half a gigabyte of that attributable to Edge according to Task Manager.

Four GB is still plenty for users with basic needs.
 

Fastturtle

Posts: 70   +38
@WhiteTrueBreak: I've got 64GB and it's not enough for my Win10 Pro system. Looking at 128GB and doubt even that will be enough and no, I'm not a gamer or running more then an R5 3600xt. Just need lots of Ram due to Image Sizes I've been dealing with lately.
 

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 3,495   +1,040
Staff member
While I‘m a big fan of (ultra) small PC, this one really looks like it‘s too weak for use as a PC.

Maybe there are industrial applications like digital signage where this can be used but for personal use that should be painful.
Yeah, digital signage is one of Zotac's marketed applications. They also market it as a basic PC for home use too, but I agree--pretty weak, especially in the RAM department.
 
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Dd663

@WhiteTrueBreak: I've got 64GB and it's not enough for my Win10 Pro system. Looking at 128GB and doubt even that will be enough and no, I'm not a gamer or running more then an R5 3600xt. Just need lots of Ram due to Image Sizes I've been dealing with lately.
So you're working with image sizes bigger than 125,000 by 125,000 pixels? Because, just to get a rough estimate, those dimensions according to Paint.NET would result in a 58.2 GB image.

If so, then yeah, you're a heavy RAM user, but that's hardly a typical workload.
 

azicat

Posts: 105   +108
So you're working with image sizes bigger than 125,000 by 125,000 pixels? Because, just to get a rough estimate, those dimensions according to Paint.NET would result in a 58.2 GB image.

If so, then yeah, you're a heavy RAM user, but that's hardly a typical workload.
It's pretty easy to blow out RAM with bitmap editing on Photoshop when using multiple layers, masks, alpha channels, and 16-bit colour depth. I had to do the same as @Fastturtle for this very reason, and even 128GB gets used up on a few image files with 70+ layers. But yes it's not a normal use-case.

Regarding 4GB RAM for web browsing: yes it can be done, but the threshold for going into the SSD with swap is pretty low.
 
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Dd663

It's pretty easy to blow out RAM with bitmap editing on Photoshop when using multiple layers, masks, alpha channels, and 16-bit colour depth. I had to do the same as @Fastturtle for this very reason, and even 128GB gets used up on a few image files with 70+ layers. But yes it's not a normal use-case.
Yikes, that's a lot of layers!

Regarding 4GB RAM for web browsing: yes it can be done, but the threshold for going into the SSD with swap is pretty low.
I suppose it depends on the type of browsing. You might have issues opening tons of videos or tabs with lots of multimedia content at once, but everyday text-based websites (like this one) should present no problem, even with multiple tabs open. Again, this was from the experience I recall from using a 2 GB system. I suppose it's possible that it was paging to disk, but if so, it did it fast enough that I never noticed. The system had EMMC flash memory for a disk drive and a USB flash drive plugged in for extra storage.
 

Fastturtle

Posts: 70   +38
@WhileTrueBreak :
Never said I was a typical user did I? Yes I tend to deal with very large image files (64 M-Pixel camera) so they tend to eat ram quickly. The only thing that helped me out was the purchase of four Seagate 15k 450GB Cheetah drives in Raid 0 for scratch space. Yep that's 1.6TB of usable space with some insane IOPS just to deal with the image sizes I routinely see.

The worst of it is, the next system I'm planning may be an Epyc based as even 256GB may not be enough so I'm already thinking it's possible I'll need 512GB or more of memory just to handle some of the images I deal with on a regular basis. What's funny is I don't need CPU speed though it does help or even cores, I need the blasted memory space to deal with things effectively.

What most people don't realize is that even the slowest ECC memory (17000) is still faster then most of the Fastest NVME drives - look at the bandwidth for that speed of memory on a server board at DDR4 and tell me you can match it with a PCIe x4 SSD.