The editor's choice goes to the Shuttle XPC SB81P
Actually, this test should show how quiet and versatile barebones can be. But the test would then be over after only a few test candidates. It is shocking to see the noisemakers that are being sold as barebones. You have to ask yourself if the developers themselves would be willing to put the barebones on their own desks and work with them? Or are they all already deaf? The engineers should at least go to an ear specialist. Small barebones are meant to be put on a desk or in the living room. For a midi tower under the table, 50 decibels are okay, because the sound's path to the ears is much farther. However, a barebone is almost directly beside you, so would you want to listen to continuous noise all day?
Except for the noise level, a great deal has been done in barebones. Once again, Shuttle introduces the latest technology in barebone format. While others are still in their infancy, Shuttle is already several steps ahead. The versatile AOpen XC Cube AB is impressive; however its overall image is diminished by its CPU fan, which quickly becomes loud. The cooling system of the test winner, the XPC SP81P, should be moved into all barebones, because this cooling system is not only effective but extremely quiet as well.
With the right hardware, a barebone can hold its own against any midi PC (except when it comes to expandability). Plus - with a TV and radio card as well as a DVD burner - it can even replace any video recorder. You can even do without a stand-alone DVD burner or player because they ultimately take up unnecessary space.
Another advantage that speaks for a barebone is its ability to download updates for many video and audio codecs. Flashing a DVD player is much more complicated. Software installation is not only easier, but it also keeps the system up-to-date. In any case, you don't have to wait long until DVD-player manufacturers offers downloadable updates. For barebones, you just download and install the codec. That's it.
All of this speaks in favor of a barebone. Not to mention the envious looks you'll get from anyone who comes to visit you.