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Inside Shuttle’s X27 Small Form Factor

Shuttle's X27: Can Atom Handle Vista?
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Shuttle sells its wares in two forms: either as complete systems or as barebones offerings, ready to take your own hardware choices. Most of the barebones systems consist of a proprietary motherboard inside of a similarly non-standard chassis with a power supply able to drive some of the fastest processors and graphics cards that’ll fit inside. But the X27 in its barebones trim goes a step further by also giving you the Atom processor.

Tiny little power button

We received a fully-configured system from Shuttle, though, called the X2700. The X2700 naturally centers on the X27 platform, on top of which Shuttle adds 2 GB of DDR2-667 memory (never mind that the platform supports 800 MHz), an 80 GB hard drive, an 8x DVD burner, optional wireless connectivity, and a standard one-year 8x5 depot warranty. Of course, you can’t see those extras from the outside. Externally, the X2700 looks like a vanilla X27.

So, what is it about the mini-PC that warrants a $429 price tag, as configured? Unquestionably, this is a form-over-function play for the folks who can’t resist sleek technology, low power draw, and quiet operation. The configured X2700 also includes a full suite of software: OpenOffice, Totem, Firefox, Banshee, Gimp, and Pidgin, among other freely available titles able to run on the Foresight Linux OS.

X27: Exterior

The X27 is 250 mm deep, 185 mm wide, and a scant 70 mm high. More to the point, it’s tiny. Shuttle’s mini-ITX chassis is coated in a high-quality black, glossy paint. The left, top, and right panels are riddled with ventilation holes since the platform can be largely considered passively cooled.

Up front, the X27 sports two pressure-sensitive doors. The top one hides a slim optical drive—on our sample, this was a SATA 8x DVD+/-R/RW burner. Underneath, behind the second door, you’ll find two USB 2.0 ports, a headphone output, and a microphone input. Between the two bays is a reflective strip of silver, under which lay power and disk-activity LEDs. The system’s power button is located to the right of that silver strip, and it’s easy to miss since the button is not only diminutive, but it also wraps around the chassis’ right-hand corner.

Flip the X27 around and you’ll be greeted to a wholly modern array of back-panel I/O, including PS/2 keyboard and mouse ports, serial connectivity, VGA/DVI outputs, which can be used at the same time if you’re sporting a pair of monitors, four more USB 2.0 ports, and a trio of 1/8” audio jacks.

As a result of the X27’s dimensions, there’s no room for a power supply inside the enclosure. Shuttle bundles a similarly small Seasonic 60 W brick able to drive all of the hardware contained within.

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