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Opening the SP45H7 up is simply accomplished by removing three thumb screws, after which the entire top slides off. Inside, things are very tidy, and well laid out to maximize the available space. This Shuttle can accommodate older components thanks to a single PCI slot (though it can only be used if installing a single-slot graphics card) and twin EIDE connectors for PATA drives. Together with the SATA connectors, the EIDE cable is routed from the lower front of the case through a metal tube to the upper back, in an ideal position to hook up your kit. The EIDE cable is incredibly thin, in fact the same width as the SATA ones, but obviously tapers out to full width at the connectors. It does spoil the look of things somewhat, but can be removed with a little effort by unscrewing the metal cable-guide tube. On the opposite side at the top is a similarly-routed power cable with a 4-pin Molex and SATA power cable.
Overall, this gives you two SATA data connections with a header left free on the motherboard, three SATA power connections and two Molex ones. There is also a six-pin power connector to give extra juice to whatever graphics card you choose to install. As already mentioned, the biggest limiter here is the slim 300W power supply. However, Shuttle does offer a similarly slim 450W power supply for purchase seperately, so the potential to upgrade is there.
Just for reference, you can actually fit a large graphics card like an nVidia GeForce GTX260 if you upgrade the PSU. The only problem is that the power connectors at the top of the card come too close to an edge of the drive cage, meaning some creative work on cutting into the plastic of the six-pin connectors will be required. Obviously this is not something we recommend you try unless you have modding experience and don't mind running the risk of messing up your PSU and warranty.
Cooling becomes another issue with cards like this, so all told it's best to be sensible and use a more modest card. Also, make sure that when assembling the system, the video-card is the last component you install.
The components we used for our basic build were as follows:
- Intel E4300 Core 2 Duo CPU,
- 4GB of Corsair Dominator 1066MHz DDR2 RAM,
- Ati Radeon HD 4850,
- Western Digital Caviar Green 2TB SATA hard drive,
- Pioneer BDC-S202 SATA Blu-ray drive.