With so much history in making SFF PCs, Shuttle is well positioned to use its expertise at cramming lots of hardware into little spaces to deliver a compact HTPC solution.
The XH61 is the culmination of Shuttle's SFF expertise, and it’s got everything a movie lover could ask for.
As a barebones unit you’re going to need to install your own CPU, memory and drives, as the kit arrives with a case, PSU, motherboard and cooler only. Given the size constraints, we can forgive the CPU being limited to a 65W maximum; thankfully, that still gives you plenty of room to move in the second-generation Core i product range, with scope even for a quad-core beast. The H61-powered motherboard comes with two memory slots, but there’s simply no room for a discrete video card, so your video duties will have to be taken care of by the CPU. Don’t go to crazy with your CPU choice, though, as the 90W power supply is a severe limitation.
HDMI out takes care of the AV signal and we would have liked to see S/PDIF for those with legacy amps, but we can’t have everything when size is so limited. You’ll also need to use a slot-loading drive to fit in the tiny optical drive bay, while your hard drive will be limited to the 2.5in form factor for the same reason.
Despite the limitations, Shuttle has delivered an excellent foundation for a miniature HTPC. At half the size of a regular DVD player yet delivering 10 times the functionality, every movie lover should have one of these under the plasma.Available from Altech, retailing for $279
.APC rating: 8/10