With AMD X2 dual-core support already available via a BIOS update, SFF specialists Shuttle have produced an XPC supporting Intel's dual-core Pentium D, the SD31P.

The SD31P uses the new "P" chassis: a fifth generation XPC design, and the same one used for the AMD-based SN25P we reviewed last week, when Richard Swinburne said: "You can't deny it's better than the old G styling, the look is more refined and everything is clean and stealthed behind shiny plastic covers."

Of course, there are many new features beyond a mere change of socket: the Intel 945G chipset brings with it improved on-board graphics in the form of the GMA 950. OK, so it won't set Doom 3 on fire, but it is an improvement on the previous generation, and is a silent solution - handy if low-noise is important to you.

Speaking of noise, there should be no complaints about the on-board sound, not when you invite Creative Labs to the party: the SD31P features Sound Blaster Live! 24-bit audio processing for 7.1 surround sound HTPC duties, and EAX support for games.

If you plan to use the SD31P as a compact home media server, you won't find yourself short of options. You can mount three SATA 300 drives internally, with RAID and in something of a first, there is also a external SATA hot-plug port. Why use an existing USB 2.0 external hard drive stuck at 480Mbit/s when you can jack in at 3Gb/s with a SATA 300 drive?

Interested? The SD31P could hit shelves in as little as two weeks - check the Shuttle site for your nearest reseller.

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