Laptops and Mac minis are wonderful, but they don’t let you upgrade your CPU or fill two PCI slots with hyper-powerful video cards. I’ve been loving lugging my Shuttle XPC to gigs, in a custom Shuttle case that I can carry on the subway or in cabs. But if it hadn’t tempted you yet, this might:

Shuttle XPC Barebone SD37P2

The new barebones kit lets you add your own Intel Core 2 Duo CPU and, with two x16 slots, ATI CrossFire-compatible video. The Core 2 Duo is not to be confused with the Core Duo in Mac laptops; this is the souped-up desktop-class Core 2 Duo (up to Duo Extreme) that’s the fastest consumer CPU on the planet. Gizmodo has the story, and readers there are confused by the cost. Let me explain: unlike, say, a new Mac Pro, the barebones system lets you customize the machine for your individual needs, and unlike almost every other solution out there, you have an upgradeable machine that you can actually lift to gigs. VJs and live visualists, I’m sure, don’t need an explanation here. Much as I love Apple, the ability to fully customize and transport your machine has a lot of appeal.

The US$537 cost isn’t cheap, but it’s not just a case — as with the Shuttle I covered here, “barebones” includes the motherboard, fans, cables, and little extras like a card reader. The case is definitely first-rate, too.

I’m still happy with my AMD-compatible Shuttle, which has now been through four gigs. This case design is similar, though I don’t like the fact that Shuttle moved the drive eject button so you could accidentally hit power. Full post-gig review of my SN26P coming soon.


Building a Portable SFF PC for Live Visuals, Music Gigs: Part 1, Assembly in Comic Book Form

Building a Gigging PC, Pt. II: RAID Setup, Installing Windows XP Without Bloat