At the back is a rather outdated selection of ports thanks to the rather long-in-the-tooth Gigabyte GA-G33M-DS2R motherboard, which came out in 2007 – great news for all three potential buyers still owning legacy devices that require printer, PS2 or serial ports. Though Gigabyte includes an e-SATA bracket with its motherboard retail package, none is to be found here. You do get four USB 2.0 sockets, another FireWire, gigabit LAN and analogue 7.1 audio out, but this is the bare minimum you’d expect these days, and there are better versions of the G33M offering onboard e-SATA and digital audio.
If you ever want to upgrade, the removable motherboard tray should make things a lot easier (once you get past all the screws), although Ultimo also offer a pretty interesting option: free lifetime labour on upgrades to your PC. Keep in mind though that you’ll be paying sometimes substantially more for components in addition to shipping. So if you don’t want to install things yourself and are approaching the end of your 3-year warranty, it might actually turn out cheaper to buy the hardware online and get it installed at your local PC shop.
Unfortunately, its weight and bulk aren’t the only problems with the Ultimo PC Nano. At the front it employs a 90mm fan, which is okay, but the twin 60mm ones at the back are rather noisy. Overall, the system produces an audible hum, which could have been much reduced by using two 120mm fans at both sides instead. At least you get adequate cooling, with the only heat pocket being beside the graphics card.
When opening the system up, it was also disappointing to find that the cable management was a tad messy, and there are no dust filters employed anywhere. Combined with the perforated side and top panels, after a few months your PC will have become a dust trap.
We were a bit disappointed with the included remote, as well. Though well laid out and featuring some very handy functions, the reception was poor, and we needed to hold it at a very specific angle to get it to work, which really is a pity as not only does the Nano feature custom media player software but the remote can also act as a mouse or keyboard. Moreover, the mouse implementation is especially good, with a large nipple-mouse-like central rubber button making pointer movement easy and smooth.
Also, though fully featured, the media software does little over and above what is available with Windows Vista Media Center, which comes included with all versions of Vista Home Premium.
Meanwhile, for those who don’t want to hook up gigabit Ethernet, wireless connectivity is on-board (which is miraculously still something of a rarity) courtesy of a Netgear WG-311 card, which takes up one of the two PCI slots. You also get one free PCIe x4 for further expansion.