Internally, you’ll find one PCI Express slot and one PCI along with two memory slots. The slots will support both 667 and 800MHz RAM, but Shuttle states that the system will support 1,066MHz if overclocked. To that end I got hold of a 2GB set of PC2-8500 Crucial Ballistix DDR2.
Installing the CPU is a bit involved as the ICE system that Shuttle uses to cool the CPU needs removing in its entirety. Thumbscrews at the rear for the fan and then the heatpipes and heatsink block have to be removed before you get to the CPU socket. As you might expect for a small system, there’s not too much room to get to the three SATA ports. The wireless module is located above the PSU and the cable that connects it to the port runs across the interior and plugs into the board, but in the deluxe model it’s preinstalled so you’re saved having to deal with installing it.
The processer I chose to build the system on was an quad-core Q6600, the same we used for the Shuttle SD39P2. To keep comparison similar I also used a 150GB Western Digital Raptor, which made the system feel fast and agile. In the top bay I installed a Blu-ray optical drive. This was the first time I had put together a Blu-ray system myself so I was keep to see if I could get it to work. I hooked up to a HDMI/HDCP equipped 24in HP display via the integrated HDMI port. I was immediately pleased to see that audio was passed over the HDMI port, and with built in speakers it made for a tidy and convenient setup.
To test I used the copy of Casino Royale on Blu-ray that’s floating round the office, and used Cyberlink Power DVD Ultra BD Edition – which is surely an application that’s going to have to change its name before long. However, when we pressed play we were hit with a, ‘your graphics driver is not compatible’ message. Checking with Cyberlink’s web page, it only lists nVidia and ATI parts as being compatible, which left me worried that one of the main features of this system would be hamstrung by a lack of driver support. Fortunately, Intel has a newer driver for the G33 integrated graphics on its web site, and this solved the problem. Full screen, Blu-ray playback with no dropped frames, duly followed, which was great to see.