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Shuttle XPC SX58H7

Monster CPU, miniature chassis

We stepped up the graphics to an HD 4890 and were pleasantly surprised that the system remained both cool and quiet, although the graphics card made a terrible racket at start-up as the fan ran at full speed. As a final test, we swapped the 2.66GHz Core i7 920 for the new 3.33GHz Core i7 975 Extreme, which took the total power draw under load to 230W and naturally enough we saw performance rise by a healthy margin. The Shuttle chassis had no trouble keeping our high-end hardware cool with the minimum of noise and we would happily consider using it as a media centre for gaming and HD movies.

Shuttle XPC SX58H7

Top-flight PC performance in a compact chassis

That’s one possible use for the Shuttle, but you have to think that the main market is the LAN party gamer who wants a small, portable PC that delivers oodles of performance. In that respect, the SX58H7 is a winner, but there’s no getting away from the high price tag.

In fairness to Shuttle, there’s no such thing as a cheap Core i7 PC - a Dell Studio XPS with Radeon HD 4850 graphics but without a display will cost £819. If you build your own Core i7 using a Micro-ATX Asus Rampage II Gene motherboard at £190 along with a Lian Li Mini Tower at £75 and a 500W PSU for £70, you’ll spend £200 less than the price of the Shuttle SX58H7.

In other words, you pay a premium of £200 for the privilege of building your Core i7 system in a small, compact, quiet chassis that's half the height of a regular mid-tower. That’s a high price to pay for a regular desktop PC but it’s worth considering as the end result is very smart and effective. LAN party gamers – yes, both of you – should form a queue here.

Verdict

The Shuttle SX58H7 is brutally expensive but that’s a fact of life with Core i7 hardware. However, the price is offset by low noise levels, stylish design and excellent cooling. ®

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Shuttle XPC SX58H7

Shuttle XPC SX58H7

Shuttle packs Intel's Core i7 into a wee XPC chassis with surprisingly good results.
Price: £529 RRP