It’s hard to deny how influential and great Shuttle Inc. are on the common market with their XPC barebones systems, but with this being the first one I’ve had in my hands personally, what’s my overall impression?
Focusing on the design of the SZ170R8, the full aluminium chassis looks simply outstanding and with an easy accessible panel to reach the components inside, it only adds to its appeal. Aside from the beautiful black brushed aluminium finish, the front I/O is conveniently located at the bottom of the front panel, which would make for a fantastic and stylish HTPC. In fact, the entire “design” is virtually flawless, aside from one gaping problem that I managed to find; the 4 drive HDD bay doesn’t natively support 2.5” drives! This may not be a problem to some, but with SSDs being at their most affordable, it would make sense to offer at least some form of compatibility. I actually had to install all 4 of the Crucial MX200 250GB SSDs down one size which might not seem like a big deal, but they weren’t exactly “secure”.
Another lacklustre part of the SZ170R8 is the inclusive motherboard BIOS which is as basic as they come. Aside from options to enable RAID on the Z170 chipset and turn hot swapping on/off on the SATA ports, there isn’t else much left to discuss on it. There are certainly no options for CPU overclocking, which I can sort of understand as this isn’t designed as a hard-core enthusiasts sort of rig, but there will be a few people left disappointed by this no doubt. I guess you have to look at what the SZ170R8 actually is over what it isn’t; that’s paramount to my perspective anyway.
What the SZ170R8 actually holds for itself is it’s a beautifully crafted barebones which is versatile enough to be used as a powerful LAN gaming rig just as much as its use as a server is viable. Apart from the moment you switch it on (what a gust of air) it’s inaudible, even when running on the desk; Silent HTPC is what this screams to me.
Putting such a big concept (Skylake, DDR4, option for big GPU’s) into such a small Shuttle is a big deal for me and if you’re into small form factor, then the Shuttle XPC Cube SZ170R8 is an absolutely fantastic starting point. It’s not cheap at £304 in the UK and $450 in the US respectively, but to me, it’s worth every single penny!
Huge thanks to Shuttle Inc. for sending the SZ170R8 in for review, we look forward to seeing more in the near future.
– Super stylish black brushed aluminium finish
– Packed full of features
– Shuttle are one of the most innovative companies in Shuttle PCs (obviously)
– Perfect for a small HTPC, server or even gaming rig!
– Top build quality
– A little bit on the pricey side, although you do get what you pay for
– No native 2.5″ drive support
– BIOS installed onto the included motherboard is fairly limited (albeit understandable)
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