When it comes to Small Form Factor (SFF) computers, no one does it like Shuttle. Shuttle's got
to be quick on its feet to adopt a new platform, and it has to be more
innovative than the competition; these svelte PCs are Shuttle's bread and butter after
all. A lapse in any area could prove to be fatal, luckily the company has
been on the ball since day one.
So what separates a good SFF PC from a bad one? First and
foremost, its exterior appearance has to look sleek and sexy, and the consensus is in favour of Shuttle's recent design
efforts. Every generation or two Shuttle designers tweak the chassis a bit to add
new capabilities, improve user access, or change the way the cooling system works for example. Thankfully, the company has
not been persuaded to attack its small formfactor PCs cheap plastic gimmicks, superfluous blue lights, chrome-on-chrome, or
Batman-esque cartoon characters.
Shuttle's internal layout for its small formfactor
computers is among the best in the business; the bits that you need to get
to are not hidden behind walls of components, access is nevermore than
a screw away, and cables are neatly tucked out of the
way. After all, cramming a computer into something as small as a toaster can be
a challenge, but Shuttle engineers have thus far utilized the space to its fullest.
Compared to a couple other SFF PC's which have passed through the
PCSTATS test labs, the Shuttle SFF PC's often seem much more roomy even when fully
Shuttle's latest Small Formfactor PC is its XPC SN27P2
which is based around nVIDIA's
nForce 570 Ultra chipset and supports 940-pin socket AM2 Athlon64 X2/FX and Sempron processors. There are
a whopping four 240 pin DDR-2 DIMM slots, making this toaster capable
of supporting up to 8GB of memory (up to DDR2-800 RAM like this Twin2X-PC26400 modules from Corsair). If that wasn't
enough already, the BTX-style motherboard layout means you can install a PCI
Express x16 videocard with a dual-slot heatsink! It's unheard of! If you
choose to do load up this socket AM2 powerhouse with an nVidia Geforce 7900GTX, the
dual-slot thermal package will block off the lone 32-PCI slot which is the computers only other expansion
Other standard features integrated into the nVidia nForce 570 Ultra
chipset include Gigabit Ethernet LAN, IEEE 1394a Firewire, high definition 'Azailia' 7.1
channel audio, three 3GB/s SATA2 ports (one IDE channel) that offer
up RAID 0/1/0+1/5, an external Serial ATA II jack and the full gamut of
nVidia nTune, FirstPacket and MediaShield technologies. The nForce 570 Ultra
chipset does note support onboard graphics.
||Shuttle XPC SN27P2 Small
Form Factor PC
Quick Installation Guide, RAID User's
Manual, 32/64 bit Driver CDs, Software CD, HDD Driver
Diskettes, Ultra/133 IDE Cable, Three Serial ATA Cables,
Floppy Cable, Molex to Floppy/Molex Power Connector, Thermal
Paste, Power Cord
Inside the Shuttle XPC SN27P2 there is room enough for
two 3.5" hard drives, a 3.5" FDD and 5.25 optical drive. The computer comes with
a 350W power supply with Active Power Factor Correction, two rear mounted 60mm
cooling fans, and an additional side mounted 92mm fan by the processor
A proprietory heatpipe heatsink with PWM fan is included with the barebones kit, and
the CPU mounting holes are such that only the manufacturer
supplied thermal solution can be used.
front there is a single 5.25" and 3.5" bay hidden behind flush panels,
and just a little lower a collection of audio (mic in, line
out), USB2.0 and mini-Firewire jacks which can also be hidden from
view when not in use.
From Barebones to Operation
The sleek black Shuttle XPC SN27P2 Small
Formfactor PC is 220 x 335 x 205mm in size and weighs about 4.2kg.
The chassis, cover and front panels are all made of aluminum, while the front bezel is
mostly plastic. The three control buttons on the front of the computer
are optical drive eject, power and some indicator LEDs, the rest
of the exterior is refreshing uncluttered.
system is a 350W A-PFC power supply, which might sound a little restricting
from the get-go, but it has plenty of power to go around. PCSTATS tested the Shuttle
XPC SN27P2 with an Athlon64 X2 5000+ processor, a 150GB WD Raptor and an nVidia
GeForce 7800GTX videocard and did not encounter any power related issues.
The power supply supports A-PFC which means there
is no need for a 115/230V input voltage selector switch, and less energy will be wasted.
There are just enough power connectors to accommodate the amount of drives and devices that
are installable. As a result, cable clutter is done away with.
To keep vibrations and noise down to a minimum when the
Shuttle XPC SN27P2 is running along, the chassis is equipped with four
soft rubber feet on the bottom. When optical drives spin up there are
occasionally vibrations transmitted to the rest of the computer, and potentially
to the desk or table top below. This can cause noise, if not become rather
distracting over item. The rubberized feet of the XPC SN27P2 do a great job of
reducing vibration transmission from this SFF computer its surroundings.
The entire PC stands evenly on soft rubber feet, or a pair of 1/2" tall
decorative aluminum feet can be added to give it a little extra cooling space
Shuttle XPC SN27P2 Small Formfactor barebones PC is a nice package - it looks
great and is built with reducing an impact both in the space it occupies, and in
the amount of noise it generates.
UPDATE (10/10/2012) - END OF LIFE REPORT
This Shuttle SN27P2 SFF PC died after almost every 6.3v 1800uf 'KZJ' brand capacitor began to fail, finally bursting and leaking electrolyte.