Shuttle's New $99 KPC Review

The KPC's Hardware: Overview, CPU HD, Memory

Shuttle has created the KPC around an Intel based 945GC motherboard with a Celeron 430 CPU clocking in at 1.8 GHz. Upgrading the CPU is certainly a viable option, as this board supports most Core 2 single and dual core CPUs, from Celerons to the newest E8000 series using a 1333 MHz bus. A CPU upgrade would certainly give the KPC a very wide range of uses without having to worry about limited processing power, so in this respect, Shuttle has certainly delivered on their promise that the KPC is an expandable system.

  • Intel 945GC Express Chipset
  • Intel Celeron 430 CPU
  • Built-in Intel GMA950 graphics
  • 800/533 MHz FSB
  • Intel Flex Memory Technology
  • Dual channel DDR2 533/400
  • Intel HD Audio 5.1 channel
  • Four USB ports on rear I/O
  • 10/100 LAN using Intel 82562G Ethernet Controller
  • One PCI slot
  • Two SATA at 3Gbps
  • One PATA for up to two devices

As expected, there are no PCIe slots. The board does supply a few front panel headers, with support for 4 USB and audio, but there are no ports built in the case to take advantage of this.


The board uses an Intel ICH7 chipset with no RAID functionality, and Shuttle has included an 80 GB HDD from Western Digital, model WD800JD. This SATA drive runs at 7200 RPM and sports 8 MB of cache, providing an average 8.9 ms time to seek, 10.9 ms time to write, and an average latency of 4.2 ms. Using HDTach to test the drive we recorded an average throughput of 51.96 MB/s and a 18.99 ms random access time. This is not a fast drive, but it is quick enough for the purpose of this system. There appears to be room to add a second hard drive to the KPC as well.


There are two DDR2 slots supporting a maximum of 2 GB of up to 533 MHz memory, but the KPC comes with 512 MB of 667 MHz CL5 DDR2 Buffalo memory by default. It proved enough to run Foresight Linux or Windows XP without too many resident programs running in the background.

We also tested the KPC with 2 GB of Corsair TWIN2X2048-5400c4, and found that it supported it without any problems, however when the second module was installed the system only recognized 3.3 GB of RAM, as with any 32-bit Windows installation.

4 GB installed

This seems to be a design choice, as some 945GC boards support only 2 GB while others support 4 GB. Most likely this is just a cost savings decision, but it is nice to know that you are limited to 2 GB of RAM on this revision of the KPC. Since the Intel 945GC boards are very mature, there should not be any compatibility problems with supported memory.

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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.