Review: An afternoon with Shuttle's Nano-powered XS29
Shuttle's XS29 barebone PC has a 1.6GHz processor, up to 4GB of RAM, gigabit ethernet, DVI, VGA and standard audio jacks, 6 USB ports and Via Chrome9 HC3 video. It's a Via Nano version of the X27, an otherwise identical machine equipped with an Intel chipset and Atom CPU.
• I haven't tried the X27, but in principle, the difference would be slightly superior performance but greater power consumption. There's also the XS29F, a slower fanless version.
• Equipped with 2GB of RAM and a 150GB toshiba hard drive, desktop performance was fine, but it's not up to (modern) gaming. It just doesn't have the grunt.
• 1080p HD movies worked great, not a spot of chop. The chipset supports MPEG-4, VC1 and WMV hardware accelleration. But there's no HDMI!
• If you're OK with DVI and put in Blu, it would make a great home theater PC.
• Price is TBD, but it'll liekly be $450-ish
for a complete system with the basics and $200-ish
for just the case, motherboard and CPU.
• All said, it's bigger than a Mac Mini and a Dell Studio Hybrid, but not any better. Unless you like the Shuttle's basic black look, a little more money gets you a smaller and more stylish system in both cases. it's a real PC and you can tinker with it to your heart's content.
• However, what it does have over rivals is upgradeability: the case comes apart in moments without the use of tools. Upgrading RAM or the drives would be a snap. There's even an unused PCIe slot, should you manage to find something that'll fit in there.
• The review unit came with Windows 7 beta build 7057, and it was a little glitchy. So build a system with XP, Vista or Ubuntu until someone verifies all is well with Microsoft's latest.
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