Shuttle KPC K45: £180 Linux desktop

Shuttle piqued our interest recently when it announced the KPC -- a tiny Linux Desktop you'll be able to buy for a paltry £180

Shuttle piqued our interest recently when it announced the KPC -- a low-cost Linux desktop PC you'll be able to buy for a paltry €199 (£180 including VAT), or for €94 (£85) in K45 barebones form.

You'd think a tiny Shuttle PC would be earmarked for the Media Center crowd, but that's not the case. KPC actually stands for 'Korporate Perfect Cube' (we're not kidding), so it's aimed at the offices, libraries and hotels of green-conscious establishments. Y'know, the type of folks that visit our sister site SmartPlanet.

The fully kitted-out KPC is based on Shuttle's existing K45 chassis. Inside you'll find an Intel Celeron 430 CPU running at 1.8GHz, 512MB of RAM -- upgradeable to 2GB -- an Intel GMA 950 graphics adaptor, and an 80GB hard drive. Other bits include 6-channel audio, one PCI slot, Gigabit LAN, four USB ports, two SATA2 ports, and a 100W power supply unit. The whole thing runs on Foresight Linux, not Windows, in order to keep the price down.

The complete KPC isn't very quick, but if gaming or HD movie playback isn't a requirement, you're good to go. More demanding users should check out the barebones version, since that lets you supply your own CPU, graphics card, memory and hard drive. It'll set you back €94, which works out at around £85 once you've added VAT.

The lack of high-performance components in the KPC's standard form means it's relatively energy efficient. Shuttle says it uses approximately 33W while idling and no more than 55W under full load -- approximately 30W less than ordinary systems. It's also very quiet -- just 28db, which is about the same level as inside a library.

We're loving this thing. You still have to buy a keyboard, mouse and monitor to go with it, but you really can't complain given how affordable and good looking it is. Watch for a full review soon. -Rory Reid