Small Form Factor PC Reviews And News

Palm sized or pint sized, PCs are getting smaller, more powerful and more capable. Micro ATX motherboards and mini ITX motherboards for X86 processors, as well as tiny single board computers that run Linux and other open source operating systems, can deliver powerful computing experiences and great performance per square millimeter. Here are the mighty mites.

When it comes time for a new rig, there are those who want the power of a full-sized system but without the footprint of a mid or full sized case.  Today, we're going to take a look at a barebones kit that promises full-sized performance in a footprint no bigger than a shoebox.  Enter the Shuttle SDXi Barebones Kit. The SDXi Barebone kit comes with support for the latest Intel CPUs, up to 8GB of DDR2 RAM, RAID and it is backed by some seriously good looks.  On the outside is a custom flamed-out paint job akin to a custom car, while the inside provides the muscle to rival that of a full-sized equivalent.  With the SDXI Barebones kit, Shuttle aims to deliver performance, good looks and... Read more...
It's hard to believe that the first time we set eyes on a Small Form Factor PC was back in December of 2001.  Back then, Shuttle was breaking new ground with several new products that helped give birth to a whole new sector in the PC industry.  As Shuttle's successes mounted with each new release, other manufacturers took notice and also started jumping into the Small Form Factor foray.  One such company to deliver their own mini-barebones units was MSI.  Their Mega mPC Series of SFF systems is comprised of various solutions that cater many different applications.  Whether your loyalties lie with Intel, AMD, VIA, NVIDIA or ATI, MSI has an mPC to... Read more...
For the last few years, there has been an undeniable trend towards packing all the functionality and performance of a full-fledged desktop system into a smaller form factor. As one of the chief pioneers of this new form factor, Shuttle enjoyed having dominant market share as they were one of the only true contenders in the SFF category. Fortunately for consumers, several new vendors have begun to show interest in SFF systems and are now offering some very viable solutions of their own. Biostar is one such company and they are attacking the SFF segment with a vengeance. Today, we'll be looking at the new iDEQ 350G to see how Biostar is aiming to take over the SFF market. As one would expect, the... Read more...
When it comes to making Small Form Factor PCs, we find that most manufacturers need to make compromises in order to create a viable product.  Radical heat dissipation techniques typically consume much of the area in already cramped confines, motherboards are usually cut-down versions of full-sized models which, in turn, have fewer features or capabilities, and typically these motherboards are based on an older more mature chipset.  Just recently we have taken looks at other SFF PCs, one of which, the Skyhawk IMC6375, was still based around the 865PE chipset, now nearing two years since it was initially released. Shuttle, on the other hand, always seems poised on the edge of... Read more...
Normally, when a new Small Form Factor PC arrives in the lab, the unit is generally  a single manufacturers combination of form and function. Inside and out, everything is designed by only one OEM in a singular effort.  From Shuttle to Epox and more recently Foxconn, the outer chassis is meant to support the technology within. Not to be left out in the cold, SkyHawk/Eagle Technologies has come up with their own line of mini-PCs.  But the difference this time is that they provide the outer shell only; the inner workings have to come from another source. It sure sounds plausible enough to work.  Many DIY builders put together their own "wish-lists" which... Read more...
Every time a new small form factor system arrives in the lab, inevitable comparisons are made to Shuttle's popular line of XPC systems.  The simple fact of the matter is that Shuttle's XPCs have set the bar for the rest of the industry.  And their XPC systems have sold so well, they've transformed Shuttle from a second tier motherboard manufacturer into full-fledged system builders, in a relatively short period of time. With success like that, it should come as no surprise that other manufacturers have since jumped on the bandwagon, and now have an assortment of small form factor systems in their own product line ups as well.  Since the initial introduction of Shuttle's XPC, we... Read more...
When we pause to think of some of the more memorable, market driving, changes to the computer industry, the advent of the mini-PC is one of the first to come to mind.  What started out as a single offering from Shuttle has grown into a market in and of itself, with new entries from a wide range of companies hitting the retail channel regularly.  What was a bold, pioneering direction to take for Shuttle, ended up being far bigger than many of us would have imagined. Now that mini PC products have had time to mature, they have evolved into a major industry.  What started as a basic design now brings innovative ideas to the table such as unique cooling designs aimed at lowering fan... Read more...
When it comes to manufacturing motherboards, Taiwan-based Epox is well respected amongst enthusiasts.  While we've only had the opportunity to review a few of their motherboards over the years, the small sample we have tested were fairly impressive.  In fact, late last year we reviewed the Epox 4PDA2+ v.2, one of the many Springdale boards to be released in 2003, and we gave it a hard-earned "Editor's Choice" award.  What could we expect then with the eX5-320S, one of EPoX's all new line of Small Form Factor barebones PCs? Epox enters the SFF PC market somewhat late in the game.  Companies such as Shuttle and Biostar have been perfecting the art of the mini-PC for... Read more...
The Iwill XP4-G Mini-PC Iwill Enters the SFF Fray... By, Marco Chiappetta June 25, 2003 Small Form Factor, or SFF PCs have been getting a ton of press lately.  In late 2001 Shuttle introduced their SV24, and from then on the market has simply exploded.  Now, a myriad of different OEMs offer mini-PCs that cater to a wide variety of users.  Shuttle has delivered SFF systems for business users (SB52G2) or the performance enthusiast (SB61G2).  MSI has audiophiles covered with their MEGA PC.  Each one of these systems, and many others, offer specific features that are designed to please a specific target audience.  In general, the trend has been to cram as many features... Read more...
Shuttle's SS51G XPC Mini Barebones System The Baddest Mini of Them All! By, Jeff Bouton August 18, 2002   Ever since we saw the first mini PCs from Shuttle back in December, we've been impressed with the XPC Mini PCs themselves, as well as how quickly new models have become available.  Starting with the release of the SV24, the first of the mini PCs, we've seen Shuttle maintain a rigorous timeline, releasing new and improved models in rapid succession.  Yet with this aggressive timeline, we've seen no signs that Shuttle was cutting corners.  In fact, we have quite the opposite impression.  Instead, we've seen Shuttle add new features as well as make design improvements... Read more...
Shuttle's SS40G XPC Mini Barebones System! A Big Package with a Small Footprint By, Jeff Bouton August 13, 2002   Ever since our initial introduction to the first mini barebones PC from Shuttle, we were intrigued not only with its ground breaking design, but with the prospects of future "mini" machines as well.  The SV24 was the first in a rapidly growing line of mini barebones systems to be released by Shuttle, each bringing new features and improvements to the previous design.  The Pentium III based unit wasn't the most powerful system in the market, but it offered such features as USB, FireWire, onboard Ethernet, and TV-Out, making it very rich in features.  The... Read more...
Shuttle's SS50 Mini Barebones System! Good Things DO Come in Small Packages! By, Marco Chiappetta May 30, 2002 For years, the only decisions computer user's had to make, dealt with speed and capacity.  How fast is the CPU?  How big is the hard drive?  How much memory is included?  These types of questions were heard by prospecting computer sales people throughout the world.  Recently, in part due to the efforts of companies like Apple Computer and Compaq, things have changed.  The days of plain, beige computers are long gone, and now buyers can not only choose from an assortment of colors, but also an assortment of sizes.  Looking to capitalize on the trend... Read more...
Shuttle's SV24 Mini Barebones System! Taking "Coolness" To a New Level! By, Jeff Bouton December 30, 2001 Today we will be straying a little from the norm with a review of a fairly uncommon type of system that has been making quite an impression around the internet in the last few months.  The SV-24 Mini Barebones System is a uniquely design mini barebones machine being offered by Shuttle, Inc.  Their goal is to provide a compact yet powerful system capable of offering a user a wide range versatility to create a customized system to fit their specific needs. Whether you want to build a workstation that has a small foot print or want to create your own multimedia server, the... Read more...
Enlight's Bare-Bones AMD / KT133 System Mid Sized Socket A Athlon Performance By Dave Altavilla - November 10, 2000   These days, many "build-it-yourselfers" and PC Systems Integrators are looking for pre-configured products that take some of the busy work out of putting together a system.  Hence the "Bare-Bones" package was born.  The premise of a Bare-Bones System is to provide the End User or Systems Integrator, a base product that is ready for customization according to the individual's specific needs.  The base product should have fairly "universal appeal" and be set up for the mainstream user for simple configuration and expansion. Enlight... Read more...
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