It has been just over a year since we first took a look at Shuttle's SV24, a Small Form Factor PC based on VIA's PL133 chipset with support for Socket-370 CPUs. The SV24 was far from a high performer at the time of its release, back when the Athlon XP and Pentium 4 were all the rage and no one wanted a dated Pentium III or C3 based system. The novelty of the SV24 was its small form factor and the fact that it looked nothing like a conventional beige PC. Little did we know that what was "neat" about the SV24 would soon turn into a feature that would be offered to all high-end users in the form of a line of very powerful Small Form Factor PCs.

Shuttle's XPC line of SFF PCs quickly went from a novelty item into a best seller and the savior of the motherboard manufacturer. Despite Shuttle's success, their competition took seemingly forever to jump on the SFF bandwagon, with major players such as ASUS, Gigabyte and MSI still failing to capitalize on the highly profitable and untapped SFF market.

In recent history, Shuttle has begun to see some forms of competition, but not from the major players, rather from the smaller motherboard manufacturers looking to follow Shuttle's lead in surviving these tough times. We've seen companies like Iwill, Jetway, Soltek and Soyo all demonstrate SFF designs, but the predicament these companies find themselves in is that they are not significantly larger than Shuttle (thus don't have noticeably more resources), and they lack the experience Shuttle has in manufacturing their XPC line. Without significantly more resources and Shuttle's experience, it will be difficult for Shuttle to be dethroned as the current king of the SFF market, but that isn't to say that it's impossible.

Today we managed to put together a roundup of four SFF Pentium 4 PCs from three different manufacturers, with hopes of finding out if the folks at Shuttle have any reason to worry.

What to look for in a Small Form Factor PC
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  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, October 15, 2003 - link

    Oops -- I should've included this:

    The above link has a "spec sheet". Takes a P4 up to 2.8G, etc. etc.
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, October 15, 2003 - link

    MSI has a new "MegaPC" SFF PC with built-in stereo tuner (has a spiffy LCD on the front), model MS6251. If anyone has any experiences with this one, esp. with Linux, please let me know -- I'm emailable at:
  • Odeen - Thursday, August 7, 2003 - link

    Speaking of taking up space on the desk...

    Is it just me, or is it more "efficient" to have a PC on the floor where you'd otherwise have... floor (under a desk, or near it) than to have a cube PC take up desk space that you can otherwise use?
  • Odeen - Thursday, August 7, 2003 - link

    Well, except that the keyboard is two inches thick, there is no AGP slot, the chipset is SiS, and the performance _really_ stinks. :(

    Build an nForce2 IGP in there, let it use standard drives and memory, and make it as inexpensive as shuttle boxen, and it'll be worthwhile :)
  • joedivino - Wednesday, July 30, 2003 - link

    There is an alternative to the Box PC. It is called the "zero-footprint-pc" by Cybernet, it is a complete Pentium 4 based PC inside a normal size keyboard. The CUBE PC types are nothing more than a mini-tower still taking desk space. The Keyboard PC does not take any more than a keyboard on your desktop.
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