The Sound of Silence

Back in June 2012, I bought myself a Shuttle X35 fanless PC. This fabulous little personal computer came with a 1.6GHz Intel Atom dual-core CPU, to which I added 4Gb of laptop RAM and a 90Gb Kingston SSD. Result: a stunning little desktop machine more than capable of handling a 1920×1200 monitor and providing me with basic web and email activities, and completely, 100% silent to boot. What’s not to like?

Truth be told, precious little. In fact, the only real “gripe” I could level at the X35 was an inability to power a pair of monitors. But let’s be honest, what could I reasonably expect for £180?

Fast-forward to August 2014 and, sadly, my Shuttle suffered what turned out to be a crippling failure when it’s integrated Ethernet Port decided to die on me. I suspect this was due to  slightly excessive cable tension… but whatever the root cause, it turned out to be terminal. Time to hit the web and come up with a replacement. And I struck gold. The folks over at AtLast Solutions have been building a range of fan-less and small-form-factor PCs for quite some time know, and their experience shows.

A phone call to discuss my requirements and I was recommended the “Newton” system, built around a dual-core i5 processor. Offering 4 cores with hyper-threading, this model had not been my first choice (since I had been tempted by the Core i7 options). However, I soon learned that the i5 alternative has improved graphics (courtesy of Intel HD5000 Pro GPU, roughly twice as powerful as the i7’s 4600GPU) and runs cooler to boot. I pushed the specification to the limit, opting for 16Gb of RAM and a huge SSD, but now have a machine that dual-boots between a 64-bit edition of Win7 Pro [supplied and installed for me] and a 64-bit edition of Linux Mint 17.0 (Qiana). This combination works flawlessly: I can select my OS of choice at boot time, and switch between them in seconds.

No, this is nowhere near the economy level of the Shuttle X35, but, oh my, it simply blows away the older unit in terms of speed and sheer fun. Better yet, the Newton is equipped with an HDMI Port and a Display Port… My Dell 24″ Monitors have suitable connectors, so I now switch between systems using monitor input selectors rather than a KVM switch. Much, much better.

Awesome solution: I’m chuffed.

Huge thanks and kudos to AtLast Solutions!