We've updated our Linux tests since the K-4500 review, so we aren't able to compare that model with these, but the scaling between the Linux and Windows systems remained roughly the same. On the JAlbum test, in which we create a simple photo album, the Windows-based eMachines W3653 outperformed the Shuttle by a large margin. However, when converting 19 WAV files to MP3s, the Shuttle system showed a surprising advantage. The gap is less significant than on the JAlbum test, so overall we think the eMachines is the better bet, but perhaps if you have this Shuttle system in mind for a cheap audio converter, it would make sense.
If you have a mind to expand the Shuttle's hardware, your options are extremely limited. You don't get any expansion card slots, only two memory slots, and no front panel bays aside from the singe optical drive opening, which is already occupied. The integrated Intel GMA 950 chip isn't powerful enough to handle HD video, so we wouldn't recommend popping a Blu-ray drive into this system. You can add a second hard drive, but Shuttle doesn't offer a secondary drive on its configurator.
Finally, Shuttle's support also keeps this system best left to those who know what they're doing with Linux and PC hardware in general. The standard warranty covers the hardware for a year after purchase, and Shuttle says its own support staff has basic capabilities with this operating system, but in general it intends to rely on the Linux community to provide help to those who need it. Hope you're handy with Google.
Find out more about how we test desktop systems.
Shuttle KPC K-4800
Foresight Linux; 1.8GHz Intel Celeron D 430; 1GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 224MB (shared) Intel GMA 950 graphics chip; 80GB 7,200rpm Seagate hard drive.
Windows Vista Home Premium 32-bit; 1.6GHz Intel Celeron E1200; 1GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 32MB (shared) Intel GMA 950 integrated graphics chip; 320GB, 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive