It’s amazing how little has changed between Shuttle’s latest barebones SFF chassis and its debut model 10 years ago. Sharing the same shoebox size with a very similar layout only the motherboard power supply and cooling has changed.
Gone is the old Socket 370 motherboard replaced by a custom-built board powered by the Intel Z68 chipset. There are just two PCI-E slots and only one of them is big enough for a video card. Surprisingly you’ll be able to squeeze in a dual-slot behemoth provided it’s not too long. There’s also room for a mini-ITX motherboard if you’d rather go with a different solution than Shuttle’s. The PSU has been given a substantial upgrade from the old model up from 150W to a very healthy 500W. This is one of the most powerful PSUs in this form factor and plenty of power for an overclocked CPU and gaming video card. You won’t want to overclock too high though as the I.C.E. cooling system will prove to be the limiting factor. Shuttle caps this at a 95W maximum so around 3.8GHz should be a safe bet.
Shuttle has cleverly hidden the drives behind twin fold-out doors giving the front of the case a clean look undisturbed by buttons or bays. There’s space inside for a single optical drive and twin mechanical drives which hover over the four empty memory slots. The result is an excellent basis for a miniature PC packing a mid-range punch. The price might seem a little high at first but it’s worth remembering that this includes the case motherboard and PSU. If there’s anything that could be improved it’d be the cooling system â€“ 95W doesn’t allow for a lot of overclocking which is a shame given the potential of the motherboard.
Available from Altech retailing for $399.
APC rating: 8/10 (Highly Recommended)