You also get four dual-channel memory slots giving you the potential for up to 8GB of RAM, should it take your fancy. Another improvement is that the motherboard now supports 800MHz memory, whereas the previous version was limited to 667MHz, though in reality there will be virtually no difference in system performance, at stock speed.
In terms of features the motherboard has pretty much everything you’ll be likely to need. It offers a total of four USB ports – two at the front and two more at the rear – which is just about enough. You’ll also find three SATA ports down on the motherboard – enough for the RAID 0, 1, 5 or 10.
Also at the front is a mini-Firewire port and microphone and headphone sockets. Practically hidden is the reset button, which will need a small pen nib or such like to access it.
At the rear you’ll find a full size Firewire port and an external E-Sata port, perfect for adding drives such as Seagate’s Free Agent Pro. The Ethernet port is Gigabit capable, so you can avoid bottlenecks when transferring data. There’s no integrated Wi-Fi so you’ll have to add a dongle or a PCI card to get that though the included manual does point out a place on the chassis for an aerial – it’s just not supported by this motherboard.
On the audio side there are the four line-out connections that will give you 7.1 surround from the integrated Realtek High Definition Audio chip. There’s also an analogue mini-jack line-in and an optical line-in. Both optical and coaxial line outs are also provided. What you won’t find are legacy connections such as parallel and serial ports, which won’t be missed by the vast majority of potential buyers. As on the front a small reset button is present, though this one is for the CMOS. This is here as due to the relatively cramped interior it would be almost impossible to reset the CMOS the conventional way with a jumper on the motherboard.
Getting inside the Shuttle is easy – you just need to remove the four standard thumbscrews to slide the lid back and off. The first thing you’ll see is two drive bays for two hard disks – and it’s eight more screws to remove those. Underneath this is another 3.5in drive bay, for floppy, card reader or third hard disk.