Shuttle KPC K-4800 review: Shuttle KPC K-4800

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The Good Optical drive; faster audio transcoding performance than comparable Windows PC.

The Bad Cheap Windows desktops offer better hardware for the price; case could offer more expandability.

The Bottom Line We liked Shuttle's original low-cost Linux desktop, but even though the KPC K-4800 adds a DVD drive and a few other upgrades, the price increase takes a toll on its overall value. Regardless of their operating system, too many Windows PCs give you more hardware for the money.

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6.1 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 5
  • Performance 7
  • Support 5

We liked Shuttle's $230 KPC K-4500 PC mostly because it was one of the cheapest complete desktops around. This higher-end model is a different story. We should qualify "higher end," because the Shuttle KPC K-4800 still starts at $299. But at that price, it's closing in on standard Windows PC territory. While we welcome this model's DVD drive, for the same price you can get systems from eMachines with Windows XP or Vista and significantly better hardware. That hurts the Shuttle's outlook as a budget-friendly PC for the non-Windows savvy, and also sours the deal for Linux enthusiasts or anyone looking for a cheap PC to repurpose as a home server. That makes it tough for us to recommend the K-4800 to even the most dedicated Linux enthusiast.

We'll refer you to our review of the KPC K-4500 for the ins and outs of this model's Foresight Linux operating system. This prebuilt, easy-to-use operating system is common to both models, and remains largely unchanged in the K-4800. Instead, the biggest difference between this model and the last is its hardware. By opting for a larger case with the K-4800, Shuttle has expanded the available hardware options. The price has also gone up correspondingly, which is the chief problem.

  Shuttle KPC K-4800 Shuttle KPC K-4500
Price $299 $229
CPU 1.8GHz Intel Celeron D 430 1.8GHz Intel Celeron D 430
Memory 1GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM 512MB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM
Graphics 224MB (shared) Intel GMA 950 224MB (shared) Intel GMA 950
Hard drive 80GB, 7,200 rpm hard drive 80GB, 7,200 rpm hard drive
Optical drives DVD/CD-RW drive N/A
Operating system Foresight Linux Foresight Linux

Our review unit represents the K-4800's base configuration, which is only barely different than the KPC K-4500. The biggest changes include an extra 512MB of RAM, for 1GB total, and the DVD/CD-RW optical drive. To Shuttle's credit, the codec for playing DVD movies came preinstalled on this system, we had to download it separately on the K-4500. The K-4800's resulting standard definition movie playback was perfectly acceptable, giving this system some basic capability as a home entertainment PC.

The other added hardware, while an improvement from the K-4500, is underwhelming compared with budget-priced Windows systems like those from eMachines. Both of eMachines current $299 PCs come with 160GB hard drives and dual-layer DVD burners. Better, the eMachines E1161-01 also supports 7.1 audio output and also includes a media card reader. Even if you're adamantly anti-Microsoft, you would still get a better deal with eMachines from a pure hardware standpoint, and you can always wipe Windows and install the Linux operating system of your choice. The Shuttle's lone advantage is that you can configure it with a wireless networking card, but for an extra $55.

As before, we don't think any reasonable shopper would look to sub-$300 computers with performance in mind. That said, we still find these systems worth testing, on the grounds that even if the price and your expectations are low, you might as well get the fastest computer you can.

JAlbum photo album creation (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Shuttle KPC K-4800

Audacity audio encoding (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Shuttle KPC K-4800

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