Whoohoo! A Mini PC That Goes To The Max

Mini Power Supply V. Standard Power Supply

Although the power supply that comes with the Mini PC is highly compact, it does its job well enough - even when you've got all components running and peripherals in the AGP and PCI slots as well. The bottom picture compares a conventional ATX power supply to a Micro ATX power supply. All the same: in PCs of the discount class ($1,000 to $1,500), there aren't any power supplies that match the high quality of the one in the right-hand picture.

Left, 200W micro power supply; on the right, a powerful 350W standard ATX power supply.

Verdict: "Mini" has a maxi future

The performance of the ultra-compact PC system is no small feat: equipped in the THG lab with ingredients such as Intel P4/2533, GeForce 4 Ti 4600 and DDR333 RAM, the Shuttle can easily take on high-performance big towers. Computers in the discount class don't have a chance. Added to that, it provides for pleasant noise conditions, thanks to actively regulated heatpipe cooling, and this is not something you're going to find factory-equipped in those antiquated "tin monsters." For a further look at the consistent pace of development, refer to our previous tests Goodbye to Hulking PCs: Athlon Mini-PCs Set The Trend and Build Your Own Mini-PC For The Office .

In all respects, we have to give kudos to this little powerhouse: for the first time, here's a mini PC with an AGP slot, something with which even hard-core 3D gamers can't argue. And rapid DDR333 RAM (CL2) is far from being standard equipment in PC systems now on the market. Of course, we tried to get the best ingredients for our test of the mini PC. But it's still up to the user to either install a GeForce 4 Ti graphics card, including digital TV card, or to equip the machine with a RAID controller. There's definitely space for two hard drives of at least 80 GB capacity. On this score, though, the Shuttle system comes in for a bit of criticism, which also means that there's room for improvement. The fact that modern hard drives at 7,200 rpm get very hot becomes a critical factor - in conjunction with a GeForce 4 Ti graphics card running permanently, this can lead to a curtailed life span. At all events, air flow should be improved so that the hard drive and graphics card are given the benefit of a bit more fresh air. That's because the heatpipe's temperature-regulated fan orientates itself solely on the CPU heat emission, and that, in turn, depends on the load. Help could be provided by a defined channel for air in the case, combined with a modified front panel for a better rate of air flow. This only applies when the mini PC is outfitted with the maximum of components, as in the case with our test computer. For most users, one hard drive is ample, and heat problems are unlikely to arise, even during continuous operation.

Ultimately, this is an outstanding product that has room for further development (optimized air flow, new designs). Some critics' old argument that mini PCs aren't at the same performance level as the big tower PCs has been deflated with this test system. What's left is a price tag of just under $400 - a lot of money for a barebones PC without components, but not too much for an individual system to steal the limelight from any hulking tower. As is the case in real life - a beautiful exterior with an innovative concept comes at a price. It's time to stop selling PC systems on the market based on the "price" argument.

  • wiliweld
    Can anyone help me with the wiring diagram for the SIS 962Lua socket:478 motherboard? The fan wires hooked to the side panel yanked out four plugs that run the on/off/reset buttons and I'm lost on how to find the right docs.