YteneWeb The Weirder Side Of Life…

June 3, 2012

Space Shuttle

Filed under: Hardware,Technology — admin @ 5:27 pm

Question: what do you do when your “main” machine is a powerful gaming rig, or basically a significantly upgraded version of this, but all you want to do is check your email or your favourite web site[s]? For me, the answer until very recently had been to use an early edition of the Acer Aspire Revo, a minimalist SFF (Small Form Factor) PC that was built around a 1.6GHz Intel Atom CPU. To give mine a fighting chance, performance-wise, I quickly upgraded to 4Gb of RAM, and put in a larger HDD than the original. A copy of ubuntu Linux (9.04 in this case) and it did a pretty good job of the basics.

Just two small drawbacks: first, the primitive Intel GPU supplied was maxed out at 1600×1200, and under even moderate loads the laptop-sourced CPU cooling fan would spin up with pretty horrendous noise levels. The resolution limit was less of an issue; I wasn’t using the machine for anything serious, and my 1920×1200 monitor did a pretty good job of rendering a fairly sharp image, even at this lower resolution. The noise, however, was a problem.

Enter the Shuttle X35. As the third image below shows, it relies entirely on passive cooling [no fans, no moving parts] and a well ventilated case [it’s basically just steel mesh] to provide CPU cooling. Add an SSD (solid state disc) as opposed to anything with moving parts, and the result is a 100% silent machine, with reasonably snappy performance. Drop on a copy of ubuntu Precise Pangolin, the latest edition of that Linux distribution, and you’ve got a tiny machine that is perfect for most things short of gaming or CPU-intensive tasks like movie editing. The Intel Atom CPU might not look like much, but it’s got 4 cores (2+2 with Hyperthreading) and is clocked at 1.8GHz out of the box, so it’s more than a match for all basic office chores.

If you’ve got any form of network storage at home (Apple Time Capsule), NAS or RAID box, then getting extra disc storage is a doddle, and it’s perfectly capable of playing your iTunes library while you work. The latest nVidia ION Next Generation GPU gives a crisp, clear 1920×1200 resolution (with the option of accelerated drivers for ubuntu) and the efficient Linux kernel means it’s far more responsive than if it ran Windows 7…

What’s not to like?

Canon EOS 7D with 24-70mm f2.8L Lens

Powered by WordPress