Haswell in a cube-sized PC
Shuttle lets users build a tiny Haswell powerhouse with its new SH87R6 XPC barebones PC.
Ask a PC-builder what the go-to company for a barebones PC is, and the answer will likely be Shuttle. It’s impossible to deny that Shuttle is the most responsive company out there to the changing chipset market, announcing new barebones PCs compatible with whatever the most recent development is in the chip market.
As Intel’s Haswell processor emphasizes performance while maintaining a small power and thermal footprint, a pairing with a power efficient form factor — like a mini-ITX case — makes sense.
There’s a lot of stuff you can’t put in a case with such a petite form factor: monster graphics cards chained in SLI or a bulky cooler just won’t fit in the case. But that’s not the point of such a wee thing — its all about portability. After a carpal tunnel syndrome inducing marathon of Counter Strike: Global Offensive, Shuttle’s SH87R6 XPC is a sinch to pack up and move owing to its light weight and small form factor. While other gamers will struggle to move their mega sized E-ATX cases, the SH87R6 just takes one hand.
With a barebones PC everyone’s experience will be different, as customizability is the name of the game. Because of this a traditional suite of benchmarks would not be an accurate barometer of the machine’s performance as it changes depends depending on the loadout.
Not much has changed in the design of the SH87R6 compared to previous barebones PCs Shuttle has put out under the XPC line. That doesn’t mean the sleek design of the SH87R6 isn’t exceptional and smartly minimalistic. The front panel of the PC has a 5.25-inch slot for an optical drive, with a 3.5-inch SSD or HDD bay below it with a pop down cover.
As far as connectivity goes on the front the PC comes with a quick charge USB 2.0 point (that feeds 5V/2A), a regular USB 2.0 port and two USB 3.0 as well as standard audio inputs. On the back there are four USB 2.0 ports and three USB 3.0 ports, eSATA, 7.1 audio output, as well as HDMI, DVI-D and gigabit Ethernet.
While the design of the XPC hasn’t changed much since previous iterations, but that doesn’t mean it’s worse for wear or looks outdated. The design still looks clean and modern, up to the high standards that Shuttle has set with previous products.
While the PC’s design is clean and modern, inside is something of a cluttered affair. Granted, given the fact that this is a small form factor PC things are going to be a tight fit. However, once components start getting put in things can become downright claustrophobic.
As such, system builders need to take particular care when building their rig as installing the components needs to be done a certain way in order for everything to fit.
Case and point: the CPU cooler, while effective, is a bit unwieldy to maneuver in such tight confines. As long as proper care is applied when building the system this shouldn’t present a problem. In addition, without proper care airflow will be a problem as the close confines of the case don’t leave much margin for error. However with proper care and tied down cables airflow won’t be a problem. Do it haphazardly however, and cooling issues will most certainly arise.
Despite the close confines of the SH87R6’s case, it’s very much possible to fit RAM,an optical drive, a SATA drive and a mid-range video card like a Nvidia GTX 680 or a Radeon 7970 in the box. Builders shouldn’t be intimidated by the small size of the SH87R6 but rather see it as a challenge.
Inside the PC is Shuttle’s custom FH87 motherboard that supports Intel’s socket 1150 protocol, meaning Intel’s i3, i5 and i7 chips are supported with a max power draw of 95W.
Shuttle includes a 300W power supply which comes with 80 Plus Bronze certification. Any half decent video card and CPU may strain the PSU under intense loads. Fear not, Shuttle includes the option to upgrade the PSU to the PC63J which can push 500W.
The FH87 motherboard provides four RAM slots, four SATA600 connectors, a PCI Express x16 slot and as well as a plain old PCI Express x1 slot. This might seem spartan compared to some high-end motherboards, but considering the form factor its more than enough for the intended purpose.
Conclusion: A well built PC-on-the-go
Shuttle has a long history of excellence in building barebones PC, and its SH87R6 is no exception. While PC builders who have never worked with a small form factor case before might find the tight confines something of a challenge, with some patience a build with good airflow will be no problem.
The only discernible downside to the SH87R6 is the rather small PSU. It will certainly be enough to satisfy most builders, but with a heavy hardware loadout it won’t provide enough power.
Aside from the relatively weak PSU, Shuttle has built a great barebones PC that will more than satisfy the needs of most users.
- Design is eye pleasing and sleek.
- Minimal tools required for construction.
- More than enough ports.
- Enough space for most midrange graphics cards.
- PSU may not provide enough power for some users.