Put This Tiny PC Anywhere
If you've kicked your floor-bound computer in the power button one too many times or if you haven't room to scribble even a Post-it note at your desk because your system is such a space hog, Stealth Computer wants you to think small.
PC World has seen a clutch of diminutive PCs recently, including those squeezed into toaster-size cases from Shuttle; but Stealth's $1295 LPC-401 takes tiny a step further, squeezing an entire 2.53-GHz Pentium 4-based PC into a case the size of two 5.25-inch drive bays. If you're unfazed by the prospect of using an older processor, consider the Stealth LPC-301 ($895), which fits a 1.2-GHz Pentium III system into a case the size of a single drive bay.
The shipping LPC-401 we looked at ran Windows XP Professional and came with 512MB of DDR266 RAM, a CD-ROM drive, and a 60GB hard drive. (Options such as a larger hard disk and CD-RW drives are available.)
Ports included three USB 2.0, one FireWire, and one each of VGA, serial, ethernet, and parallel, as well as audio inputs and outputs and the standard PS/2 ports for keyboard and mouse. Neither system offers any PCI or PC Card expansion slots.
This little PC won't break any performance records: Its PC WorldBench 4 score of 115 is much lower than the marks of many similarly configured conventional desktop systems. The LPC-401's 2.5-inch notebook drive is slower than the usual 3.25-inch desktop version, too. The PC runs fast enough for general use, but gamers may dislike the integrated graphics subsystem, which uses main memory.
Both systems have optional mounting brackets, but they require some space to vent the heat from the processor; the LPC-401, in particular, pumps out a lot of warm air, and the processor's fan produces a modicum of noise. The LPC-301 can run off any 12-volt power supply, so you could even power it through the cigarette lighter of your car.
Overall, Stealth Computer delivers what it promises: full-service PCs that fit into very small spaces. If superb performance isn't a top priority, both LPCs will work well as media servers or as PC boxes tucked under your TV or desk.
By Richard Baguley