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Shuttle XPC mini X 200MA review: Shuttle XPC mini X 200MA

The Shuttle mini X 200 is the replacement for the mini X 100, a tiny, well designed desktop PC aimed at multimedia junkies. It packs a larger hard drive and more memory than its predecessor, but it has a slower CPU and graphics card

Rory Reid
4 min read

The Shuttle mini X 200 is the replacement for the mini X 100, a tiny, well designed desktop PC aimed at multimedia junkies. The new version comes in three flavours: the entry-level 200BA, the customisable 200M and the 200MA, reviewed here. Unlike its predecessor, the £850 mini x 200MA packs Windows XP Media Center edition, a larger hard drive and more memory, but it has a slower CPU and graphics card.


Shuttle XPC mini X 200MA

The Good

Physical design; slot-loading DVD drive; quiet operation.

The Bad

Slower than the previous version; limited gaming capability and upgradeability.

The Bottom Line

The Shuttle XPC mini X 200 is a fantastic example of a small form-factor PC. It's quiet, attractive and offers plenty of flexibility. It's only hindered by its comparatively high price and the fact it's slower than the mini X 100

The XPC mini X 200 is aesthetically identical to the mini X 100, which is a good thing. It's a flat, rectangular shape that's only slightly bigger than a large hardback book. We were impressed by the recessed brushed-silver strip on top of the unit, particularly as it extends halfway down the front of the chassis, where you'll find the power button and a blue power indicator light. Between these is a cleverly positioned and very discreet memory card reader.

The USB port at the front saves you faffing around at the back when you want to plug in an extra peripheral

The sleek design of the case is helped by a slot-loading DVD drive at the front. This, unlike many similar drives, doesn't make the noise of a cat being strangled when a disc is inserted or ejected. There's a single USB port at the front of the unit with four more at the rear -- two at the far right and two more in the middle below a single LAN port. Here you can also find S-Video, SPDIF, FireWire and audio ports, plus a DVI graphics port and AC power inlet. Power is fed to the PC via a fanless external power brick.

The mini X 200 can be positioned flat on its belly or propped upright on its side. Shuttle has included a curved silver stand to keep the unit relatively stable when stood upright.

At the heart of the system, Shuttle has chosen a 1.6GHz Intel Core Duo T2050 processor instead of the 1.6GHz Core Duo T2300 in the mini X 100. Both run at the same clock speed, but the T2050 has a slower front-side bus (FSB) speed of 533MHz, whereas the T2300's FSB is 667MHz. This makes the mini X 200 marginally slower than its predecessor, despite it having 1GB of RAM (the mini X 100 had 512MB).

Another difference is the mini X 200's use of an integrated Intel graphics adaptor. This is a shame since the mini X 100 used a far superior ATI Mobility Radeon X1400. It's fine for playing hi-def video and showing images, but don't expect it to run games.

Shuttle has managed to cram proper PC components into a very small space

Audio is fairly well-catered for. The Intel 945PM chipset includes a high-definition audio controller that can spew sound to up to eight separate channels. Connecting your surround-sound speakers is easy thanks to three discreet audio jacks and an optical digital SPDIF port at the rear.

Shuttle has shied away from any next-generation optical disc formats, so there's no sign of any Blu-ray or HD DVD drive in the mini X 200. Instead you get a good old-fashioned Matshita UJ-845S slot-loading DVD rewriter. It's fairly slow, maxing out at 8x for DVD ROM reading or 2.4x for dual-layer (8.5GB) DVD+R writing, but it's fine for creating backups as long as you have patience.

One of our gripes with the mini X 100 was its 200GB hard drive -- which wasn't large enough for our liking. The mini X 200 comes with a more capacious 320GB drive, which should please anyone with an extensive digital file collection. The PC ships with a hybrid digital/analogue TV tuner, but this won't let you simultaneously record one channel while you watch another.

There's a DVI port at the rear with the TV tuner connections

The mini X 200 has a gigabit Ethernet controller, so it can transfer data to compatible NAS devices at up to 1,000Mbps, and the unit has optional Wi-Fi so you can connect it to your home network and share an Internet connection without using cables.

There's not a great deal of software included in the package. You get a demo of Nero 6, NeroVision Express 3 and PowerDVD for movie playback, but that's about it. Our review sample used Windows XP Media Center Edition, but future versions will use Windows Vista Home Premium Edition.

The mini X 200 is a solid machine for everyday use, but it's slower than the mini X 100. It scored 2,538 in PCMark 2005, whereas the Mini X 100 scored 3,336. This we attribute to the T2050 CPU having a slower FSB than the T2300 in the mini X 100. Gaming performance is also worse than the mini X 100. It scored 298 in 3DMark 2006, which again is lower than the mini X 100's effort of 798.

Arguably the best aspect of the mini X 200's performance is its quiet operation. It's barely audible when idling and doesn't get much louder when running demanding applications.

This is one of the better Media Center PCs -- it's small enough to fit under your TV and has most of the features you'll need. Providing you're not looking for a gaming machine and aren't fussed by its limited upgradeability, it's a solid choice.

Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Nick Hide