We take our first look at one of Shuttle’s legendary small-form factor systems. Shuttle has long set the standard for compact computing power, but bad hardware, BSOD's, and poor support keep this system from ever getting off the launchpad.
As many of you might know by now, HardOCP doesn’t "review" systems, we evaluate the experiences they facilitate. We order the system the same as you would and evaluate every aspect of the end-user experience. Not only does this give us a better idea of what hardware an end user actually receives, it also allows us to obtain a more accurate picture of just how each company functions and treats its customers. As fast as PC hardware has become over the years, we think giving a personal computer "5 stars" based on how fast it ran a synthetic benchmark is simply irresponsible. We think service, support, and reliability are much more important factors in today's climate than speed. Fast is easily bought, but purchasing and ownership satisfaction can be elusive.
We’ve taken a look at one Shuttle system before, its m1000 Home Theatre PC. While we were generally happy with the HTPC, we had some issues with its setup and build quality. It came to us with flaws—as many systems do—and fixing them in order to get the media center up and running was more of a hassle than it should have been. After that, though, it ran stably and performed up to almost all of our expectations for a media center.
This time around we’re checking out at a Shuttle small-form factor (SFF), a form factor that it pioneered. This Taiwan-based company has branches in the U.S., and was one of the early leaders in packing lots of power into a small space. Shuttle isn’t just an integrator, though. In fact, it is just as likely to sell barebones systems with a custom mainboard and chassis as it is to sell full systems. The guys over at [H] Enthusiast recently wrote an article on the same barebones kit that our current system is built on.
In 2001 Shuttle launched its SV24 barebone system, called a computing landmark by PCWorld.com, to allow do-it-yourselfers to move away from the giant, beige boxes that had dominated the desktop DIY arena. Shuttle has pedigree, which is important when you’re deciding who to trust in this business, so we wanted to check in on it again.
Our system is a part of the P2 line, labeled as the “ultimate gaming machine.” So, you guessed it, we’re looking for gaming power. Additionally, when you’re talking SFF, stability is a major concern since the problems with heat and ventilation are magnified compared to conventional ATX form factors in tower-based desktops. The smaller size, lower power signature, and low-noise preference also makes the SFF that much harder to work on, upgrade, and replace parts for. Shuttle will void your warranty if you open the case without its permission, so when you buy a complete system, you want it to last. All of these issues can present problems for manufacturers, so we want to see just how Shuttle packs that gaming power into the sleek design. And, as always, if something goes awry, how far is Shuttle willing to go to fix our problems?
*Note: This hard drive is no longer available and has been replaced by the 250GB version.