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13 Barebones Reviewed Are Anything But Square

Shuttle XPC ZEN: Smallest Barebone With External Power Supply

The smallest and quietest barebone in the test field is the Shuttle ZEN ST62K Since there is no power supply in the interior, the dimensions of the ZEN could be reduced by many centimeters. Besides, the ST62K has no AGP slot. The external power supply even operates without an active fan, which gives the system a tremendous advantage. The barebone is virtually noiseless, with the exception of IDE hard disk access. The user can set different types of fan control in the BIOS of the ATI IGP-9100 based motherboard. This ranges from ultra quiet, in which the fan only runs slowly, to a smart mode, which is temperature dependent. The ZEN uses a combination of heatpipes and an 80mm fan to cool the system and the Pentium-4 CPU.

Because there is no AGP slot, the ZEN can only be upgraded with one PCI graphics card if necessary. The onboard graphics is adequate for all Office and Internet applications. Even DVDs or 2D games run on the ATI chipset without a hitch. In addition to the VGA output, the ZEN can also work directly with any television with the S-Video connector, assuming the television has an S-Video input. An adapter from S-Video to SCART or RGB can be found at computer stores. An AC97-compatible sound chip, which supports 5.1 surround sound, provides good sound. A slight weak point is the lack of a serial ATA interface. The extensive range of accessories from Shuttle allows the ZEN to also be upgraded with a W-LAN module.

White design: reminiscent of a doctor's office

Front connectors: there is no FireWire