In the last decade, small and compact accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) systems became available operating at terminal voltages of 1 MV and below. This new category of instruments has become competitive for radiocarbon detection to larger tandem accelerators and many of these instruments are successfully used for 14C dating or biomedical applications. The AMS group at ETH Zurich has demonstrated that small instruments can be built, which allow measurements also of other radionuclides such as 10Be, 26Al, 129I, and the actinides. 41Ca measurements can be performed with sufficient sensitivity for biomedical applications. A summary of recent developments made at the 500kV Pelletron in Zurich is given and its performance is compared with that of a commercial compact instrument from the company High Voltage Engineering Europe (HVEE) in Amersfoort, the Netherlands, operating at 1MV at CNA in Seville, Spain, as well as with that of larger AMS facilities. It turns out that the ion optics, stripper design, and the detection system are critical for the performance.