Media Center based on Zotac ZBOX AD02

Last week I received my Zotac ZBOX AD02. Zotac is a company specialized in building small mini PC’s which are very interesting for home entertainment use because of the small formfactor and low power consumption. I was looking for an alternative to my (very big and noisy) old HTPC. A few weeks back I got my brand new Apple TV 3 but there isn’t a jailbreak for so it’s still in its box waiting for that.

In this post I’ll describe how I install the ZBOX with Windows 7 and XBMC Media Center.

Zotac ZBOX AD02

First things first, lets take a closer look at the ZBOX AD02. The AD02 is based on a AMD Fusion APU (CPU and GPU are shared on the same chip). Zotac also makes models based on Intel Atom APU’s but after reading a few reviews I’ve decided to go for the AMD because of the lower power consumption an slightly better performance. Check the Zotac website for more detailed specifications or the video below;

Installing addtional hardware

When ordering the AD02 you have 2 choices, the AD02 (without RAM and HDD) or the AD02-Plus (with 2GB RAM and a 250GB HDD). I ordered the version without the RAM and HDD (since the AD02-Plus is about € 100 more…). At my workplace I’ve found a 2,5″ 160GB HDD and 2 2GB SODIMMs under a layer of dust… The components are easy to install as you can see in the video above.

Installing Microsoft Windows 7

After unboxing and installing the RAM and HDD into the AD02 I’ve installed Microsoft Windows 7 on it. Because there isn’t a optical drive you need to make a USB stick windows installer. I made this by using YUMI, this freeware Windows tool can create a bootable USB stick/drive by providing your Windows disk image (.iso). Read more about YUMI on there website. One more tip; Don’t use one of the USB 3.0 ports! Since there aren’t default drivers in Windows for USB 3.0 setup will fail because the installation media is inaccessible halfway the installation process.

It’s recommended to enable AHCI in the BIOS before you install Windows and point to the AMD AHCI driver during Windows Setup. The AMD AHCI driver is included on the drive CD or available in the download section of the Zotac website.

The installation was not as easy as I thought, after setup rebooted the AD02 it came with the error “setup cannot configure Windows to run on this computer’s hardware”. After some research on the internet I found a solution. When installing Windows using a bootable USB disk created with YUMI (and maybe some other tools too) this error will occur. To workaround this issue you have to disconnect the USB media when Windows setup reboots the PC, after that the installation will finish correctly.

Installing the device drivers

After the installation of Windows 7 you need to install the device drivers. The AD02 comes with a drive CD but the most recent drivers are available on the Zotac website. All the drivers from the website installed without any problem, but I do suggest to take the latest drivers for the Radeon GPU from the AMD website.

Installing and configuring XBMC

Download the latest installer from the XBMC website. The installation is very straight forward, just follow the instructions in the setup wizard. After the installation everything works just fine for me. Only thing I had to do is change the audio output to Optical SPDIF (default is HDMI audio output).

Do you want to use a shared library? Share your XBMC library on a Synology (or other) NAS

One thought on “Media Center based on Zotac ZBOX AD02

  1. Thanks for this summary. I’m running into trouble with my Win 7 install – I’m using a USB 2.0 Pioneer DVD/CD R/W. It gets about 1/2 way through the “expanding” portion of the Win 7 install and then crashes. I’m pretty darned sure I’m using the USB 2 ports for both my keyboard and external drive. I’m going to try it with a USB ISO (never done that before!) and see how it goes.

    Any ideas on the problem with the external DVD?

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