Saturday, October 4, 2008

Shuttle K-4500-N2

(This post is the 2nd part of my Ubuntu Linux Router Upgrade Project.)

I chose Shuttle's KPC4500 model, purchased from Newegg as the K-4500-N2 (#N82E16883104036) for about $210.

Surprisingly, I currently have the only posted customer review for this product on Newegg.

Caution / Update (2009-12-02): I am quickly loosing my confidence in Shuttle, Inc.'s computers. View my post on Shuttle's hardware forum for the details. Power supply failed and was exchanged under RMA in July 2009. Not even 5 months later, and not much more than a year since I purchased the system, it is now unusable.

Specs

While the K4500 certainly isn't a top-of-the-line system, it's definitely suitable for this task. Included is a 2.0 GHz 64-bit processor, 160 GB SATA hard drive, 10/100/1000 Mbps Ethernet, and integrated video & audio. It has 4 USB ports, as well as COM/serial, LPT/parallel and PS/2. Internally, there is room for a 2nd HD, with an 1 additional SATA and 1 IDE port available, as well as some extra USB headers.

The K-4500-N2 came configured with 512 MB RAM, which is shared by the on-board video card. The sharing can be configured in the BIOS for a dynamic (using DVMT) or fixed partition. While this should be plenty for the setup, maxing out the supported memory is relatively cheap - so I decided to do it right away instead of later. I couldn't find a common product with appropriate specs that was in the memory support list for the K45 on Shuttle's web site and that Newegg carried, but a Kingston 2x1 GB pair (Newegg # N82E16820134117, ~$30) is working well. While this required removing the supplied 512 MB chip, this had the added benefit of enabling dual-channel mode.

With a largest dimension of 11", it is space-saving. Though I haven't measured A/C usage, it also seems that it is also rather energy efficient - with only a 100W power supply, and very few extra components to power.

One peripheral to note as missing is an optical drive, though there is one available on the K4800 model. However, short of reinstalling the operating system, I rarely expect a need for one. It does support an external USB DVD drive I have without any apparent issues, and worked well for reinstalling Linux.

Operating System

I was not impressed with the supplied installation of Foresight Linux. Several menu options only produced errors - not a good first impression. Fortunately, it's free to begin with, so I had nothing to loose by simply doing a clean install of the latest Ubuntu x64 - which works great.

Other Thoughts

Especially without optimal viewing conditions, the power button on the front can easily be mistaken for a USB port. Considering how there are already spare USB headers on the motherboard and available space on the front panel, at least one USB port on the front panel would be nice for connecting flash drives, etc.

There's a clear spot on the back plate for a 2nd Ethernet jack, which could have been nice for use as a router. However, it's nothing that VLAN support and/or an external USB adapter can't resolve.

To be continued...

Next up: Alltel UM175AL USB EVDO under Ubuntu Hardy Heron.

1 comment:

Michael said...

Stein here, good writeup. I've done some reading on a lot of sites on possibilities of bringing it back, but it comes down to it's a proprietary system and there just isn't a big demand for this type of system, especially with the Atom CPU's out. Check out www.hardocp.com in the small form factor forum for some tips and whatnot.