I played with about every options in the BIOS related to power management, and saw no improvement.
I tried running PCLinuxOS from a liveusb, same thing.
I think the motherboard may be in cause, or less probably the PSU. I will contact the vendor to see if I can have a replacement.
For information, the case is a Silverstone SG05 and the mobo is a Zotac 8200-ITX. By the way, the image is choppy even with nvidia proprietary drivers: is KDE4 supposed to run well with an integrated gf8200 ? I have another system with a gf9300 and it's very smooth...