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Review: SHUTTLE PC Barebone System SZ87R6

Review: SHUTTLE PC Barebone System SZ87R6

March 11, 2014 12:27 pm0 comments

Introduction

Compact rigs are now more fashionable than ever. Processors, graphics cards and other components’ manufacturers seek to offer the performance of large machines in more compact formats. Shuttle has been in this business for quite some time, which is good for some things but also mean they can lack innovation sometimes.

Shuttle SZ87R6

Technical performance

The new Shuttle SZ87R6 is a dream come true for anyone who wants to set up a modern system with the latest Intel processors in a compact Mini-ITX case but without some of the limitations of this format. Shuttle makes their motherboards to especially suit the needs of every user, though their barebones also offer support for Mini-ITX boards, to cover some features that can’t be found in the Mini-ITX format.

Shuttle SZ87R6

This new barebone has an Intel Z87 chipset which gives it almost every feature it has. We will not find chips added like other technologies that offer it, since this chipset has almost everything you can ask for.

The Z87 will allow you to mount all fourth-generation Core processors including Intel K versions with multiplier. You can also opt for other alternative versions, such as those that provide more benefits of hardware virtualization, or even low-consumption versions. Support for graphics cards is guaranteed although Shuttle, in my opinion, has not done an exactly great job. You’ll see why in a little while.

Shuttle SZ87R6

These processors offer up to 32GB of capacity with four DDR3 memory slots in dual-channel configurations. This barebone, unlike a Mini-ITX, allows you to use all four memory slots and therefore has the option to install up to 32GB of RAM.

It features six 6Gbps SATA, four traditional SATA connectors, and two spread across a mSATA SSD connector (cache or traditional storage) and an eSATA connector for external storage.

Shuttle SZ87R6

Shuttle SZ87R6

MSATA performance.

Another improvement introduced by these barebone compared to traditional Mini-ITX solutions is that they have two expansion slots for PCI Express cards. This particular model has PCI Express 3.0 PEG 16x slot and 1x type slot. The separation between them makes it impossible to install a second card if you use a dual slot graphics card, but it certainly offers more possibilities than the ITX cases that have a single expansion slot. The length is also limited to about 31cm long so not any graphics card can be installed, although you also have to take into account the power consumption.

Shuttle SZ87R6

Finally, it also has a Mini PCI Express slot where you can install expansion cards, like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Wi-Fi N and Wi-Fi-AC can be selected.

Case Revision 6 Review

Shuttle has been using more or less the same case design for several years. Now a small revision, known as Revision 6, has been introduced, but it introduces only connective and not internal distribution changes. This case uses a cooling system shifted to the only fan in the case, an extraction fan located at the rear. This block transfers the heat through four nickel-plated heatpipes made ​​of copper. This lets you use a single fan for the entire case, and the fan can also be intelligently controlled.

Shuttle SZ87R6

This system is definitely more effective and improves energy consumption. Its intelligent design was ahead of its time but Shuttle is relaxing a little, in terms of the storage management of their barebone. This case gives more importance to the 3.5-inch drive, and it’s also possible to add 2.5-inch drives by buying a Shuttle adapter. In these times, the 2.5-inch format should be a priority for high-performance machines. The mSATA slot allows installing a high performance SSD but it also enhances the storage management, making it more modernized for future generations.

Shuttle SZ87R6

The R6 case features a full aluminum body, minus the front, with concealed external drives (one 5.25-inch and one 3.5-inch) and an elegant design with front LEDs (amber and blue on disk activity). Everything is covered including the front flap front connectors that we will review in more detail later.

Shuttle SZ87R6

Its size: 33.2 cm x 21.6 cm x 19.8 cm. Its weight, not including the components you add, is 3.5 Kg.

Power and connectivity

Shuttle has includes a 80 Plus Bronze-certified 500W PSU with an efficiency of over 82%. The 500W are divided into three tracks of up to 17A each in four SATA connectors, two Molex connectors and one floppy connector. It also has two PEG connectors for graphics cards and one six-pin connector on the other eight. This works well with mid-level graphics cards, which can be installed in this case without fearing space or overheating issues.

Shuttle SZ87R6

In regards to connectivity, we have mixed feeling about it. It has four frontal USB ports, two USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0. It also has the common HD Audio connectors. We missed some kind of card reader, SD if possible.

Shuttle SZ87R6 USB port

Shuttle SZ87R6

At the rear, there are two Gigabit Ethernet connectors signed by Realtek with performance and speeds of up to 1gbps. There are also four USB 2.0 ports, one eSATA port and two USB 3.0 ports, as well as analog audio connections with auto-detection, digital sound via an optical SPDIF connector, and two dual-link DVI and HDMI 1.4a ports. Sadly, it doesn’t have a Displayport connector that would have allowed 4k resolutions with higher refresh rates to those offered by the HDMI 1.4a.

Shuttle SZ87R6

Analysis and Conclusion

The Z87 chipset is the best the 4th-generation Intel Core processors can offer, but the truth is that this Shuttle model offers no advantages over the H87 model, which is cheaper. The overclocking capabilities haven’t been improved, in fact Shuttle is known for not supporting this, and other benefits between the H87 and Z87 are exactly the same. Shuttle should also try to offer a more modern internal distribution rather than the traditional optical drives for slim models and configurations allowing for a more 2.5-inch oriented format.

Shuttle SZ87R6 Setup

On the other hand, Shuttle offers a far more in a compact case than most Mini-ITX traditional solutions. Their PCs have always been some of the most successful compact formats and now they’re back in track, but with more innovative features and a revamped design.

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