Goodbye Antec P180, hello Shuttle SD37P2, you so small

I remember back a couple years ago large computer cases were the in-thing. The Antec SX930B series and other Chenming and Chieftec variants were the standard for mainstream do-it-yourself enthusiasts. The Antec SX930B wasn’t big enough for me and I had an SX1040, Antec’s behemoth super-sized case. The thing was humongous. As time went by and I passed my case modding phase I moved to something smaller—the Antec Sonata. It was whisper quiet and fairly sized. Then came college and the Sonata was retired for something smaller, a small form factor. I tried the AOpen XC Cube EX915 which was too loud under load for my tastes and a Shuttle SB83G5. After nearly two months of using a small form factor system, I reverted back to using the Antec Sonata due to the amount of hard drives I could have, the ability to have a sound card, TV tuner and noise reasons too.

I stuck to tower cases for the past two years. Eventually the Antec Sonata was upgraded to a P180 because the Sonata was showing its age with plenty of scratches and the typical broken door. I loved the P180 because it was spacious and quiet, I had some nitpicks with it but overall it was a great case. Nevertheless, when Shuttle released its SD37P2 with the new P2 chassis I was intrigued. The system just had a simple and clean industrial design that I prefer. At this point I began reevaluating the need for a larger tower case. In my P180 I was able to house plenty of hard drives, a double-slot graphics card, a sound card and a TV tuner card. ATX motherboards were also capable of accommodating four sticks of memory too. The Shuttle SD37P2 is capable of housing two hard drives, one double-slot graphics card and can accommodate four sticks of DDR2 memory.

The two hard drive storage capabilities was sufficient as I only had two hard drives and the system also supports e.SATA for external enclosures such as those based on Silicon Image’s SteelVine II controllers. My previous gripes with Shuttle P-series systems were the two memory slot limit. While two memory slots can accommodate 2GB max of memory, having 4GB of memory is my preference as I run Windows XP Professional x64 and will upgrade to Vista Ultimate x64 when it arrives with drivers for my devices. I could live without the TV tuner as I never get around to watching recorded shows anyways. The only problem left that was keeping me from moving to a smaller system was audio. I’ve never really been a fan of integrated audio, especially Realtek high definition audio. Throughout the years with every system upgrade I performed, I stuck with my M-Audio Revolution 7.1.

I always used an analog stereo connection to my receiver too. While S/PDIF offers a cleaner digital signal, the DAC’s in my Pioneer VSX-812k aren’t exactly the best. Nevertheless, I finally retired my M-Audio Revolution 7.1 and went with something different. Since I only needed a two channel output source, the Silverstone EB01 USB DAC tickled my fancy. It’s a simple external aluminum enclosure that matches the SD37P2 and delivers good sound that delivers greater warmth than my M-Audio Revolution. I was sold and switched over to using a Shuttle SD37P2.

The system build was pretty straight forward and simple. All the cable management was prearranged in the system for more convenience. I didn’t have to spend hours hiding and zip tying every cable for a nice and neat system. System specifications are pretty straight forward with a Core 2 Duo E6700, 4x1GB of Corsair XMS DDR2-800, ATI Radeon X1950XTX, HGST 80GB SATA 3Gb/s drive for OS, Seagate 7200.9 500GB and lastly the Silverstone EB01 USB DAC.

It’s been a month since I made the switch. Overall I’m quite happy with the system. There haven’t been any heat or stability issues with it yet. I do have gripes with the system though. It produces a noticeable amount of noise over the previous system I had in my Antec P180. The noise appears to be coming from the Radeon X1950XTX. In my previous Antec P180 system I had a Zalman VF900 on the graphics card—which made quite a bit of difference. This time around I’m using the stock ATI cooler. Neverthless, I have plans on improving the acoustic performance of the SD37P2. While I’ve been happy overall with the system, it could use and will receive some improvements. Stay tuned as next time I’ll outline the acoustic upgrades to make this toaster-sized box nearly silent.

"Well, we didn't have anyone in line that got shot waiting for our system." -- Nintendo of America Vice President Perrin Kaplan
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