The launch of Windows Media Center and the subsequent digital-home revolution led to an explosion of modern, interesting twists on the original 'beige box' PC design.
Shuttle, though, has been pioneering radical case designs for years. Its speciality is producing cases that take up considerably less room than the traditional PC. One option is to buy the barebones Shuttle case and fit in the components yourself; alternatively, you can get a company such as Ambros to kit it out for you.
The first thing to bear in mind is that Ambros' Shuttle line is extremely customisable. The version we've reviewed here is very much a high-end system – you can actually put together a fully configured design for less than £1,000. The second thing is that the Gaming System really is incredibly small. We're not quite talking Mac mini dimensions here, but it'll be easy to hide away at the back of the desk.
Having said that, you can expect to pay a heavy price premium for such excellent case design. Admittedly, the 2GB of DDR RAM is fairly outstanding (and a wise addition as we await the arrival of Vista) but otherwise, this £1,376 system has specifications that you'd expect to find on a machine costing £400 less.
The Athlon 64 4200+ dual-core processor is lent considerable support by the healthy complement of memory, although the WorldBench processing-speed score of 109 is more Budget than Power PC. The 300GB hard drive is ample, and the GeForce 7900 GT is a very good choice of graphics card – even if not in the same league as the GTX version or the dual-card combinations that you would expect on a more normal-sized £1,400 PC.
The sound is certainly an area we'd want to improve upon, and the 2.1 Hercules speakers and onboard Realtek controller are hardly the most stellar of pairings.