The Shuttle mini X 200 is the replacement for the mini X 100, a tiny, well designed desktop PC aimed at multimedia junkies. The new version comes in three flavours: the entry-level 200BA, the customisable 200M and the 200MA, reviewed here. Unlike its predecessor, the £850 mini x 200MA packs Windows XP Media Center edition, a larger hard drive and more memory, but it has a slower CPU and graphics card.
The XPC mini X 200 is aesthetically identical to the mini X 100, which is a good thing. It's a flat, rectangular shape that's only slightly bigger than a large hardback book. We were impressed by the recessed brushed-silver strip on top of the unit, particularly as it extends halfway down the front of the chassis, where you'll find the power button and a blue power indicator light. Between these is a cleverly positioned and very discreet memory card reader.
The sleek design of the case is helped by a slot-loading DVD drive at the front. This, unlike many similar drives, doesn't make the noise of a cat being strangled when a disc is inserted or ejected. There's a single USB port at the front of the unit with four more at the rear -- two at the far right and two more in the middle below a single LAN port. Here you can also find S-Video, SPDIF, FireWire and audio ports, plus a DVI graphics port and AC power inlet. Power is fed to the PC via a fanless external power brick.
The mini X 200 can be positioned flat on its belly or propped upright on its side. Shuttle has included a curved silver stand to keep the unit relatively stable when stood upright.
At the heart of the system, Shuttle has chosen a 1.6GHz Intel Core Duo T2050 processor instead of the 1.6GHz Core Duo T2300 in the mini X 100. Both run at the same clock speed, but the T2050 has a slower front-side bus (FSB) speed of 533MHz, whereas the T2300's FSB is 667MHz. This makes the mini X 200 marginally slower than its predecessor, despite it having 1GB of RAM (the mini X 100 had 512MB).
Another difference is the mini X 200's use of an integrated Intel graphics adaptor. This is a shame since the mini X 100 used a far superior ATI Mobility Radeon X1400. It's fine for playing hi-def video and showing images, but don't expect it to run games.
Audio is fairly well-catered for. The Intel 945PM chipset includes a high-definition audio controller that can spew sound to up to eight separate channels. Connecting your surround-sound speakers is easy thanks to three discreet audio jacks and an optical digital SPDIF port at the rear.