If you’re a returning reader you might have noticed the glaring omission of any Shuttle XPC reviews on TrustedReviews (bar the Mesh CubeX64+ system of course). This is not because we don’t like Shuttle, quite the contrary in fact, but we have had a bit of a problem finding the right person to supply us with review samples. But after Riyad’s trip to Computex this issue was all resolved and we now bring you the brand new XPC SB81P.
Shuttle is the grand daddy of SFF (small form factor) PCs in their current cube like incarnation. But recent models from Shuttle have all looked very similar to the previous units with a few minor tweaks here and there. The SB81P however, represents a major overhaul that goes a long way to put Shuttle back at the front of the SFF pack.
As you might have noticed from the pictures, the new chassis is taller than previous models, not by much, but the extra height allows for the memory card reader to be mounted above the optical drive. This makes space for a 3.5in drive to take the place that the memory card reader has occupied on recent models. The memory card reader can handle CompactFlash Type I/II, MMC, SD, MemoryStick and SmartMedia. The 3.5in bay can either be used by a hard drive or a floppy drive or similar device. This begs the question, where does the hard drive go if I have a floppy drive installed?
Well, Shuttle must have had its entire R&D staff putting their heads together for this one, as the SB81P has the hard drives mounted in suspended rails hanging across the top of the case. Yes, that is correct, hard drives, as there is space for two hard drives to hang across the top in specially designed drive rails. I have never come across a solution like this until now, but it makes quite a lot of sense, since this leaves space for plenty of airflow inside the case.
All the cabling to the hard drives is pre-routed, although the cables could do with being just that tiny bit longer as we had problems attaching the front most power cable. That said, the unit on review is a pre-production model so this is hopefully an issue that has been addressed with production boxes. There are plenty of power connectors with three S-ATA power plugs and two Molex connectors. There is also a converter in the box that adds a floppy drive power connector in case you‘re still a fan of legacy removable storage.
The power supply is proprietary to Shuttle and is the most powerfull PSU to grace an SFF system to date at 350W. It also features an internal DC to DC converter, which means fewer components on the motherboard, which in turn allows for a cooler running system. Due to the DC to DC converter, Shuttle can use smaller connectors from the PSU to the motherboard, which leaves more space for other components.