Shuttle's Smallest Yet: XPC X100

Complete|Mobile Systems
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Small and sleek, the X100 should not be out of place in an entertainment center.

By volume, the X100 is more than twice the size of the Mac Mini, but it is still very small. The slim two inch height goes a long way towards making it feel small. Its weight is another thing entirely; it feels decidedly heavy for its size.

A relatively small selection of rear ports, with few legacy connections.

The back panel imitates something that Apple has been doing for ages: Old connections, such as serial, parallel, and PS/2 ports are left off in favor of more modern connections. Thus, integrated graphics uses DVI, not VGA, a S/PDIF connection is available for audio, and the keyboard and mouse are required to use USB. TV output is the one exception to this rule: While S-Video is better than simple composite video, most new televisions support component or HDMI connections.

We were pleased to note the presence of a small, four-pin power jack that accepts 20V DC from an external power brick. This eliminates the need for a noisy internal power supply, and moves a significant source of heat outside of the system.

On the other hand, the small exhaust vent and the tightly packed fins of the heatsink behind it do not look good for airflow. Hopefully, the use of mobile parts can keep power consumption low enough that this doesn't matter.

Most of the air vents are on the bottom.

Aside from the exhaust vent on the back, the only air vents are located on the bottom of the unit. Most of them are likely to be blocked when the unit is placed horizontally; the hard rubber feet are only about three millimeters thick — not enough to allow much air to circulate. In this position, the main intake is likely to be at the very front of the unit, where the bottom tapers upwards, allowing air to flow into the system.

Vents on the lower angled portion of the front panel provide most of the air intake when the X100 is placed horizontally.

A better position for cooling is to stand the X100 on its side — a silver stand is provided — so that the vents on the bottom panel can be effective. Shuttle warns that it should be placed on its right side with the exhaust vent at the top, presumably so that it can take advantage of convection currents to cool itself.

A silver stand keeps it looking slick even on its side.

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