Shuttle X5000TA review

£535
Price when reviewed

Shuttle is known for squeezing PCs of all flavours into discreet, compact cubes. So it’s refreshing to see the company branching out with a very different sort of system: a lightweight all-in-one that’s designed to be admired.

Outwardly, the X5000TA is strikingly similar to the Asus Eee Top ET1602. It perches on the desk in just the same way, and from the front it’s identically laid out, with a speaker bar set below a widescreen touch-sensitive display. There’s no keyboard or mouse provided, though – Shuttle evidently sees the X5000TA as primarily a browsing device.

The insides are similar to the Eee Top’s as well. Both systems are built around an Intel Atom processor, though Shuttle splashes out on a dual-core Atom 330 rather than the single-core N270 used by Asus. Both ship with 1GB of DDR2 RAM and a 160GB hard disk, and both sport a 1.3-megapixel webcam and microphone set into the top of the screen.

Outside of this basic specification, though, the Shuttle distinguishes itself over the Asus on several counts. The one you’ll notice first is build quality. Where the Eee Top has a cheap and cheerful plasticky feel, the X5000TA is a far more solid proposition. With its tasteful white (or, optionally, black) bezel and metallic trim it looks and feels like a quality appliance.

Several classy design features reinforce the effect: we like the status and activity LEDs that shine through the speaker grille, and the physical rocker that controls volume, brightness and contrast. When the machine’s in use, a blue light shines down onto your desk, calling to mind the HP TouchSmart series. And there’s a stylus holder neatly tucked away at the top of the casing.

The X5000TA is also designed for flexible positioning. The stand swings up to become a carrying handle, should you wish to lug its slim 3.6kg frame about. For a more permanent fixture, there’s a VESA standard mounting that makes it easy to set the unit on a wall or bracket. Maybe few of us need these features, but you can’t cavil at having the option.

Connectivity isn’t bad for a device this size, either. You get five USB ports (against the Eee Top’s four), full-fat Gigabit Ethernet and draft-n wireless networking, a four-format card reader and – an unexpected treat – a VGA connector for hooking up a secondary monitor.

Lastly, the X5000TA is gratifyingly upgradeable: a spare SO-DIMM slot lets you up the RAM to 2GB, and the hard disk can be replaced with a standard 2.5in SATA unit of up to 600GB. It’s not exactly an easy-access upgrade, mind: you’ll have to undo 15 screws to get at the RAM slot, and a further four to swap out the hard disk.

While the X5000TA ticks a lot of boxes, it has shortcomings too. One aspect of the Eee Top we wish Shuttle hadn’t copied is the lack of an optical drive. Without one, the X5000TA’s media capabilities are necessarily limited, and you may have to resort to roundabout methods to install applications and drivers – especially if you opt to save £57 and buy the unit without a preinstalled operating system.

The display is also a disappointment. White areas are grainy, while colours appear subdued and washed out. It’s perfectly usable, but in such a well-built package it sticks out as a weak link. The speakers are predictably weedy too.

With its Atom processor, the X5000TA’s performance is also decidedly modest. In our benchmarks it scored a predictable 0.37 overall – fine for web browsing and office applications, but offering little headroom beyond that.

Warranty

Warranty 2yr collect and return

Basic specifications

Total hard disk capacity 160
RAM capacity 1.00GB
Screen size 15.6in

Processor

CPU family Intel Atom
CPU nominal frequency 1.60GHz
CPU overclocked frequency N/A
Processor socket PBGA437

Motherboard

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec

Memory

Memory type DDR2
Memory sockets free 1
Memory sockets total 2

Graphics card

Multiple SLI/CrossFire cards? no
Graphics chipset Intel GMA 950
DVI-I outputs 0
HDMI outputs 0
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
DisplayPort outputs 0
Number of graphics cards 1

Hard disk

Capacity 160GB
Hard disk usable capacity 160GB
Internal disk interface SATA
Hard disk 2 make and model N/A
Hard disk 2 nominal capacity N/A
Hard disk 2 formatted capacity N/A
Hard disk 2 spindle speed N/A
Hard disk 2 cache size N/A
Hard disk 3 make and model N/A
Hard disk 3 nominal capacity N/A
Hard disk 4 make and model N/A
Hard disk 4 nominal capacity N/A

Drives

Optical drive N/A
Optical disc technology N/A
Optical disk 2 make and model N/A
Optical disk 3 make and model N/A

Monitor

Resolution screen horizontal 1,366
Resolution screen vertical 768
Resolution 1366 x 768
DVI inputs 0
HDMI inputs 0
VGA inputs 0
DisplayPort inputs 0

Case

Case format All-in-one
Dimensions 391 x 327 x 36mm (WDH)

Free drive bays

Free front panel 5.25in bays 0

Rear ports

USB ports (downstream) 5
PS/2 mouse port no
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 0
Modem no
3.5mm audio jacks 3

Front ports

Front panel USB ports 3
Front panel memory card reader yes

Operating system and software

OS family Windows Vista

Performance tests

Overall application benchmark score 0.37
Office application benchmark score 0.33
2D graphics application benchmark score 0.45
Encoding application benchmark score 0.33
Multitasking application benchmark score 0.38

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