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Shuttle XPC H7 7800H review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £1015
(around ?910) inc VAT

Shuttle’s PCs often appeal to those looking for a small media centre PC. Its latest offering, the XPC H7 7800H, aims to provide everything you need in one shoebox-sized chassis.

Our review model was configured with a hybrid TV tuner card. You can watch or record TV with this, but you can’t do both at the same time. This is disappointing, as a dual TV tuner is essential for day-to-day use. We recommend removing the card from the specification when ordering, which will save you around £82, and picking up a dual-tuner USB model instead.

The H7 7800H is well equipped for use as a media centre. The 500GB hard disk should provide sufficient room for storing recorded TV shows and other media files. There’s also a Blu-ray drive that can also play HD-DVD movies. PowerDVD Ultra 7.3 is included for DVD and Blu-ray playback, and there’s the usual Media Center remote.

The core specification is powerful enough for media centre duties. Its AMD Athlon 64 X2 6000+ processor runs at 3GHz and achieved a respectable score in our PCMark Vantage benchmark. We were also impressed by the quietness of the Shuttle; you’ll rarely notice the faint whirr from its fans.

Though there’s no discrete graphics card, the integrated Nvidia GeForce 8200 chip can handle 1080p Blu-ray footage without any ugly skipping or screen tearing. Sadly, modern games are beyond the 8200’s capabilities; even at the low-detail settings, Call of Duty 4 wasn’t playable.

The Shuttle’s chassis is attractive yet sturdy. There’s built-in 802.11b/g WiFi, so you don’t have to run a network cable around your living room. However, there’s not much upgrade space, with both memory slots being filled, and the free PCI Express x16 slot will only fit a small graphics card.

There’s a memory card reader at the front of the case as well as a couple of USB ports and a mini-FireWire port. The rear has a wider selection of sockets: two eSATA, Gigabit Ethernet, four USB ports and FireWire provide everything you’re likely to need.

We quite liked the H7 7800H until we saw the price. Complete Shuttle systems like this are sold directly from Shuttle’s European website. Its already high price is compounded by the current exchange rate, making this PC far too expensive. If you want a Blu-ray-capable media centre PC then the Sony Vaio VGX-TP3E is only £621 and has a built-in dual TV tuner.

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