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Shuttle's Stylish New X27 Makes an Appearance

By - Source: Tom's Hardware | B 10 comments

Shuttle has provided Tom’s Hardware with a sneak peak at their stylish new solution to the bulky, comparatively power-hungry basic office or multimedia desktop.

The new X27 is a Small Form Factor PC designed as a replacement for a larger, full-ATX office or home theatre system, which not only saves you an incredible amount of desk space, but looks great in the process! The X27 is finished with a highly-reflective, piano black paint which looks quite sophisticated. You might want to keep your hands off the outside if you want it to stay that way, as glossy paint-jobs are infamous for leaving behind fingerprints and showing up the dust.

With a total chassis volume of a mere 3 liters, around 1/10 that of a standard ATX tower, and measuring only 250mm (L) x 185mm (W) x 70mm (H), the X27 can fit almost anywhere. But you won’t want to hide it away, because while it looks good, the X27 is also extremely quiet, producing a tiny 23 dB of noise at both idle and full load according to the information provided. There’s no need for high-airflow, high-noise fans even in this tightly closed environment.

The X27 is capable of running an extremely quiet cooling system in such a small case because it uses Intel’s new Atom 230 processor that Tom’s Hardware tested back in July, which has a very low 4W TDP. Unfortunately, the 945GC desktop chipset is not nearly as energy efficient because of its aging process technology, and claims a large portion of the system’s power consumption with a TDP of 22.2W - while the accompanying ICH7 southbridge uses 3.3W. Altogether, the system consumes only 24W at idle and 36W under full load. For the environmentally conscious this is particularly good, but just as importantly it also means you save money on the electricity bill, especially if the system runs 24/7.

Because the X27 uses Intel’s GMA 950 integrated graphics, it is obvious that this PC would never be used for gaming purposes, or even for watching HD content. But that isn’t the target market, as is also evident by the use of an Atom 230 at the heart and a single DDR2 DIMM slot capable of holding only 2GB RAM. The X27 is directed towards the basic home theatre and an office environment in need of a bit more eye candy. Capable of running single applications such as email clients, web browsers and office software, as well as watching DVDs, the Atom processor is a good choice of processor for the task because it keeps power consumption down and therefore reduces the need for noisy fans cooling hot components. Of course, the Atom doesn’t have nearly enough horsepower to be used even for relatively simple multi-tasking, despite having Hyper-Threading capabilities.

Hardware Specifications
ComponentDetails
Form FactorSFF - 250 x 185 x 70mm
ProcessorIntel Atom 230 1.60GHz
ChipsetIntel 945GC + ICH7
MemorySingle channel DDR2-533 (max 2GB)
GraphicsIntel GMA 950
AudioRealtek ALC662
Storage1x UDMA 100, 2x SATA
EthernetMarvell 88E8056 Gigabit ethernet

The Shuttle X27 is definitely not for everyone. Boasting only enough performance for basic home office usage and the occasional DVD, it’s more about elegant looks and blissful silence than hardcore (or even mainstream) performance. If cutting electricity costs is a priority, then the X27 doesn’t disappoint as it is light on the energy consumption side, although the 945GC chipset is an unfortunate addition which negates much of the advantage of using Atom. Cool, quiet and green, the X27 delivers it all in a tiny yet aesthetically pleasing chassis. The X27 is expected to hit the market mid next month.

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  • -3 Hide
    malveaux , August 23, 2008 3:15 AM
    Hrm,

    So if I'm to understand this correctly, it's completely gimped and probably costs a mint. What's the point of that? A pretty box that hums? It can only barely watch a DVD? That's pointless. This is 2008. It should do a hell of a lot more than a little DVD or some office software.

    Review something worth actually looking at?

    Very best,
  • 0 Hide
    gsteacy , August 23, 2008 3:22 AM
    malveauxReview something worth actually looking at?

    This isn't a review, far from it. If you read the first line, it says "sneak peek", ie. not a review. We didn't get this PC, we got information and pictures. Personally I like the look of it, but would I buy it? No, it would be too slow for me. But some people will buy it for one reason or another. Maybe because it has Atom and Atom is new?
  • 0 Hide
    WheelsOfConfusion , August 23, 2008 3:35 AM
    It's good to know what's out there, so this review does serve a purpose.

    I'm just personally bored with all the Atom-based stuff rolling out. Maybe a lot of us readers are.
    It's a barely-capable CPU paired with an older chipset that Intel was too lazy to update. I'm not excited about it going into notebooks or low-powered desktops, even though those are areas interesting to me.
    Maybe it's just the coverage saturation. What else is out there that I should look at?
  • -2 Hide
    gsteacy , August 23, 2008 4:40 AM
    WheelsOfConfusionMaybe it's just the coverage saturation.

    Atom is the R600 of the CPU world. Lots of coverage, lots of hype. Just like R600 it doesn't really live up to its hype, at least not in the desktop market. Not that it is really designed for the desktop anyway.

    Key difference between Atom and R600: Atom doesn't need its own power plant.
  • 2 Hide
    nvalhalla , August 23, 2008 4:50 AM
    "What else is out there that I should look at? "

    VIA's Nano
  • 0 Hide
    waffle911 , August 23, 2008 5:18 AM
    I think Dell's Studio Hybrid desktop is perfect for this market. It's just as small and good-looking from what I can tell, its much more widely available, and stands a chance of answering calls for tech support. It's amazing to think that Dell is getting away with what the Mac Mini couldn't, although Dell has the advantage of offering an affordable combo with monitor etc. included. That said, its still underpowered, under-whelming, and you might as well just get a laptop, because that's essentially whats inside the box- laptop hardware.
  • 0 Hide
    WheelsOfConfusion , August 23, 2008 4:42 PM
    waffle911I think Dell's Studio Hybrid desktop is perfect for this market. It's just as small and good-looking from what I can tell, its much more widely available, and stands a chance of answering calls for tech support. ... That said, its still underpowered, under-whelming, and you might as well just get a laptop, because that's essentially whats inside the box- laptop hardware.

    Of course, with the Hybrid Studio or the Mac Mini, you can still do multi-tasking without strangling the processor. And the Dell at least got an EPEAT Gold rating, for what that's worth.

    @nvalhala: Yeah, I am interested in the Nano. Even though it draws more power, it also outperforms the Atom in most tests, and by some measures has better performance-per-watt. I'd like to see it make some more prominent appearances in North America, especially in low-cost computers. The extra performance should make it more tolerable than the Atom.

  • 0 Hide
    gsacks , August 24, 2008 8:38 PM
    You should not compare the Atom to the Via Nano - which has not stopped people from trying. Nano is not available yet, and nobody knows how much it will cost. When it comes to market, then you can compare them.
  • 0 Hide
    incapacitant , August 26, 2008 2:38 PM
    a noob post

    would the X27 not be designed for administrations running only intranet and low on cpu ?
  • 0 Hide
    Alien_959 , August 27, 2008 11:29 AM
    Hmmmm. Nice design, low power – low performance. I am not an AMD/ATI fan but still Sempron 1100LE CPU and HD 3200 IGP would be a nice platform if someone makes it in small factor.
    As far as I know AMD CPU consumes 8 watts and the chipset is very economical too. Would be nice to have more options in small factor PC