Battle of the Minis: Soltek vs. Shuttle

Size Is A Matter Of Survival

It is slowly dawning on latecomers to the market. Even those abstainers who failed to read the market and previously decided to wait and see were showing their creations at this year's CeBit 2003 in Hanover. It was not always like this. Until recently, some well-known manufacturers were reluctant to even consider making a Mini-PC. Something like "It's too specialized," or "We are not getting involved," was the typical response. This lack of foresight allowed Shuttle - by no means one of the biggest in the sector - to become the number one vendor of mini-format barebone systems. And it all happened while the competition was still besotted by the ATX form factor. Not surprising, really. The industry's highly paid product managers are short on both creativity and gumption; they feel much more comfortable achieving their sales targets by marketing the old, familiar products. Their excuse has always been: "conditions are not ideal." Mini-PCs could well change things, because they offer the potential of a previously untapped market.

Perspex front panel: the Soltek barebone system.

Even more astonishing is that another small manufacturer, Soltek, has brought out its own Mini-PC barebone system: the Qbic series. Well-informed industry observers must be asking themselves, where on earth are Asus, Gigabyte and company? In this review we will take another look at the familiar SP51G Mini-PC from Shuttle and compare it to the new Soltek QBic EQ3000.