Shuttle's New $99 KPC Review

The KPC's Hardware: PSU, USB, WiFi, Bluetooth, Extras

The PSU is a 100 watt unit that provides the base system with power; it appears easy to remove, as it runs the length of the left side of the system. The unit only has one SATA, Molex and FDD power connector to support internal devices, and has a standard 20-pin ATX connector for the board and four-pin power for the board.

Speaking of power, Shuttle claims the KPC is an environmentally friendly machine, sipping a mere 33 watts at idle, and maxing out at a low 55 watts under load. This is certainly not going to have a hefty impact on anyone’s electricity bill.

Of course, an optional PSU is available for many Shuttle systems, including the KPC. The PC62 is an external silent 220 watt PSU from Shuttle that could be used in place of the default unit, to provide a silent experience. We found the 100 watt PSU to be fairly quiet, but in some instances even a small amount of fan noise can be distracting, so this PSU gives you an option. It also provides extra juice to fuel upgrades.

PC62 external silent PSU

Shuttle is considering an optional USB optical drive, but does not have one available at this time. You have several options to get an optical drive. There is an IDE and SATA header that could be used, but even by modifying the case there is little room to install one. We used an USB based DVD+/-RW during our review, which worked at the firmware level and allowed us to boot from the DVD drive. For this to work in Foresight Linux we had to configure the system to recognize it. This was easy enough following the instructions we found using a Google search, however this feature should probably be preconfigured so that anyone who connects an USB optical drive does not have to go through the process.

A 2 GB USB installer is being offered for approximately $20 US to recover from a failed HDD or to load Foresight Linux on to a barebones build. This proves to work very well, and by using a 2 GB flash drive, Shuttle gives the user some free storage space as the installer only takes up about 1.12 GB.


Shuttle has an optional internal wireless card that they have confirmed will work with the system. The PN20 is a USB based wireless device that supports 802.11 b/g networking and connects to the motherboard on one of the headers normally used for front panel connections. It can be mounted in the side of the normal XPC cases, but for this case, it would be in the upper right rear corner when facing the front of the system.


Shuttle also said they might provide an optional Bluetooth module: the PN21. Many businesses and users will probably be drawn to this unit for its low cost. Once again, however, this would be a feature that would have to be preconfigured in Linux by Foresight and Shuttle so that users are not required to do so.

Carrying bag

Shuttle has also said that the PF60 carrying bag will work well with the KPC. We do not see this as a LAN party system, but it could be a good fit for presentations. Since it is so small and much less expensive than a laptop, it could be used with a projector in many instances. While this use would be limited, the carrying case would help to protect the KPC. The only issue with this is that no online vendor seemed to have any in stock, but Shuttle says they have them available.

To summarize, the KPC is certainly not the most impressive or powerful system we’ve ever seen, but as far as functionality is concerned, Shuttle has delivered the KPC with all the features and prowess it needs to fill its role. In addition, they appear to have met both their "green" and "expandable" goals from a hardware standpoint.

Now let’s look at the software the KPC comes with.

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  • BaconCache
    Grandma build!
  • imatt
    Great for a public computer for internet access in a family room. Small footprint, low heat, low price. Will be interesting to see what the masses can mod these things into.
  • styln
    Regarding Linux's readiness for prime time...

    Six months ago I installed Ubuntu 7.10 on a compact barebones for my wife, a computer novice. I reconfigured Gnome to look a lot like XP with only one toolbar at the bottom and created desktop icons for common programs: browser, word processor, spreadsheet, media viewers/players, etc. I automounted our NAS and created an icon for that, too. Used CUPS to easily connect two networked printers (yeah, my house is fully networked with a GB backbone :)

    She's as happy as can be and uses it everyday for routine "mommy", tasks including classroom rosters, art class schedules, saving/viewing picture and videos, etc.

    Bottom line is she loves it. As the home IT admin I like it too because it's rock solid and gives me less to do than maintaining the kids and my XP machines. So except for playing games, I see no reason to buy Windows in the future.... and I won't.
  • quicsilver
    Pros: Tried and true chipset, linux, windows, windows server compatible. Small, low wattage, QUIET, stylish. Slot under faceplate for a laptop sized cd/dvd-rom

    Cons: barebone comes with no processor fan, no case fan, no cd-rom. Room for only 2 hard drives. NO CASE FAN

    Rumor has it that they will offer the ICE Genie as an optional separate purchase, which is nice for the processor but I don't know if it's sufficient enough to cool the HDD's. I built one with a celeron 420 and a stock core 2 duo proc fan. (the stock proc fan that came with the celeron was DOA) The fan size on the back is 92mm, I bought an antec 92mm case fan and it's very quiet, the loudest fan on the system is the small power supply fan. It has the slot under the faceplate for a slim dvd/cd-rom. You would have to dremel mod the front clear plastic to make it look right, but it's easily doable. AT LEAST it has the option.

    I built it for a Windows Home Server and it works perfect.
  • Luxcrete
    ** DO NOT BUY THE PC62 PSU FOR THE KPC! ** spite of what this article would have you believe, it doesn't physically fit. I just wasted $100, and I'm pretty angry that the reviewer didn't do his research.

    If you're thinking of getting the KPC for a home server, bewarned that it's not that quiet. Probably fine if you can lock it away in a cupboard, but too irritating to be left out in the open, if you're anything like me.
  • sloto
    There is a cutout for a front USB, but you have to hack and do your own mod. Same conditions for an optical drive. It's doable.
    Mint is my preferred linux and works just fine on KCP
  • uafon
    I have tried many many wifi adapters.....and I can say one thing for sure...
    ..I don't know about you guys, but for me UAWIFI UA3 usb adapter is the BEST.
    No other adapter can compare to this baby, it is VERY powerful.
    There are few people sell them on ebay, but I got mine directly from mft. website price is same.
    I also know that it is Made in USA, so at least by buying it I am supporting US workers.
  • uafon
    In other words, you do not have to power it up, as this adapter. It uses 5V from the USB plug.