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It's very compact, comes in a stylish case, and can still handle all tasks like the best of them. In addition, it manages to keep the noise level down, and this is where even the best of the biggies can't keep up. When compared directly, the little one sizes up quite well against the biggies: it takes up only about a fourth of the volume needed by the large ones. If you place the two PCs next to one another, the neutral observer will hardly be able to believe that the large PC with the awkward design represents the state of technology in 2002.
The motherboard is the main reason why conventional PCs don't come in a more compact form. Currently, most PC systems come with a motherboard in the ATX format. This form factor is characterized by its generous dimensions and its low integration density for components. So in order to get a more compact PC system, a motherboard with smaller dimensions is needed. The best foundations for mini PCs are motherboards in the Flex-ATX and Micro-ATX formats. At a fraction of the size of standard ATX boards, these models offer the same functionality: graphics; network; sound; FireWire (IEEE1394); TV-out; USB (versions 1.1 and 2.0); Ultra-DMA/100 connectivity; and digital audio-in/out. The only limitation is with the expansion of components: our test system from Shuttle has only two PCI slots. The manufacturer does away with an AGP slot, since the onboard graphics are sufficient enough for 2D applications. Nevertheless, Shuttle has announced that it will be coming out soon with a mini PC system equipped with an AGP slot - while maintaining the same compact dimensions. In our last test, Build Your Own Mini-PC For The Office , compact computers still looked quite different.