Shuttle KPC K-4500 review:

Shuttle KPC K-4500

JAlbum photo album creation (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Shuttle KPC K-4500

Audacity audio encoding (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Shuttle KPC K-4500

Given the low-end hardware on all of these systems, we didn't expect much in the way of performance, and we're sure it's not your primary concern either. Still, it's nice to know that the K-4500 is at least in the same ballpark as other budget PCs. Its photo performance was slower than those other desktops, each of which has a faster processor and more RAM. However, we were impressed by its capability to process a batch of audio files and, as you can see, it was faster than either eMachines desktop at the task.

For anyone interested in tinkering with this system, we can see a lot of potential here. Its small size would make it an excellent home file or media server, and one commenter at reported putting Windows Home Server on it, which sounds good to us. Because the K-4500 comes with 512MB of RAM, it's suited to run Window XP, but you'd want at least 1GB for Windows Vista Home Basic. Internal expansion is limited because of the small case, but you do get two memory slots, two hard drive bays with two Serial ATA ports, and a PCI card slot. What this system does not offer is digital audio or video outputs, or FireWire. With only analog audio and video out, you certainly can still use the K-4500 as a living room system, just know that you'll need to have analog receiving ends on the rest of your home entertainment components.

Shuttle's support for the K-4500 appears nonexistent. It does provide a basic one year parts and labor warranty for the hardware, but the system doesn't come up on Shuttle's online support pages. Indeed, when we called a Shuttle representative to help us figure out how to install the DVD codec, we were given the number to rPath, the company behind the Foresight software-updating tool. Shuttle says that its tech support staff will be able to answer some basic operating system questions and that it has experts on staff to assist with more complex problems. We were also told that Shuttle plans to rely on the Foresight user community, as well.

Find out more about how we test desktop systems.

System configurations:

eMachines T3642
Windows Vista Home Premium; 2.6GHz AMD Athlon 64 4000+; 1GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 128MB (shared) Nvidia GeForce 6100 graphics chip; 160GB 7,200 rpm Western Digital hard drive.

eMachines T5246
Windows Vista Home Premium; 2.21GHz AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200+; 2GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 128MB (shared) Nvidia GeForce 6100 graphics chip; 400GB 7,200 rpm Western Digital hard drive.

Shuttle KPC K-4500
Foresight Linux; 1.8GHz Intel Celeron D 430; 512MB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 224MB (shared) Intel GMA 950 graphics chip; 80GB 7,200 rpm Western Digital hard drive.

What you'll pay

    Visit manufacturer site for details.

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