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Appeared on: Friday, March 16, 2018
Shuttle SZ270R8 review

1. Features

Shuttle has recently added the SZ270R8 model in its XPC series of miniPC chassis. Based on the Intel Z270 chipset, this product promises to offer high performance and expansion flexibility, at a compelling price. The stylish aluminum chassis is three times smaller than tower PC but as a result of a new internal design, it can support large-format dual-slot graphics cards, installation of up to four 3.5" hard disck drives and supports the Intel Rapid Storage Technology (Intel RST) for those looking at RAID configurations (RAID 0/1/5/10).

Equipped with Intel Z270 chipset, this new XPC cube is designed to drive Intel Kabylake LGA 1151 processors - it supports both Intel 6th Gen (Skylake) and Intel 7th Gen (Kabylake) Core i3/i5/i7, Pentium, and Celeron 95W processors. With Intel HD graphics, the SZ270R8 is able to support 4K/Ultra HD video playback and up to three independent screens and dual-screen displays via HDMI or DisplayPort interfaces.

The SZ270R8 provides one PCI-E x16 slot (Support Dual Slot VGA card). It's built-in Dual Gigabit LAN supports Wake on LAN and Teaming Mode; comes with two M.2 2280 and one M.2 2230 slots, 10 USB3.0 ports, as well as an optional RS232.

Shuttle's I.C.E.2 heat pipe technology and an 80 Plus Silver 500W power supply ensure stability and and energy-efficiency for long-term operation. Shuttle's recommended retail price for the XPC Barebone SZ270R8 is around 325-350 Euros (ex VAT).

- Features/Specifications

2. Unboxing, closer look

Below you see the rear side of theShuttle SZ270R8's retail box, which shows its basic features and specs. As we previously mentioned, it can be purchased across Europe in for about €325~350.

The main device is well-packaged and secured into its own box, and a seperate one includes the rest of the accessories:

  1. Multilanguage XPC Installation Guide
  2. Multi-language XPC Installation Guide (EN, DE, FR, ES, JP, KR, SC, TC)
  3. 32/64 bit driver disk for Windows
  4. 4x Serial ATA cables
  5. AC Power Cord (with protective-earth contacts)
  6. Heatsink Compound
  7. Protector cap for the CPU socket (do not use if heat-pipe or fan is mounted)
  8. Bag with screws

Additional accessories are on sale by Shuttle, including the PHD3: 3.5" to 2.5" adapter, the H-RS232 backpanel COM port adapter for RS232 serial interface and probably the most interesting and useful WLN-M Wireless LAN 802.11ac + BT4.0 module featuring two external antennas.

Besides the mainboard and the PSU, the chasis needs to be outfitted with a CPU, SSD/HDD, memory and possibly a graphic card - in case the CPU's built-in graphics is not enough for you - in order to operate. For our tests we installed the following components, kindly provided by Intel, Crucial and Asus:

- Intel 7700K processor
- Crucial 2x16GB DDR4-2400Mhz
- Crucial Crucial MX500 500GB SSD
- Asus GTX1060 6GB VGA Graphic Card

The chasis has the typical dimensions (34.84 x 21.54 x 19.02 cm) of a mini-ITX Shuttle box:

The black aluminium chassis weighs in about 3.5kg. On the front brushed aluminium plate you will find the following ports: 1x Microphone input, 1x Headphones output (line-out), 2x USB 3.0, Power button, 1x Power LED (blue) and 1x Hard disk drive LED (yellow):

In the rear panel there are the following ports/ interfaces:

The two LAN ports can be used in a "teaming function" , which allows you to group both network adapters together in order to function as a single adapter. The benefit of this approach is that it enables load balancing and failover.

In the illustration below you see the maximum dimensions of the graphics card you can fit nto the chasis. Anew graphics card mechanism supports the installation up to 120mm of height graphic cards (support to max. size of 280 x 120 x 40 mm. It also allows easier installations of separate graphics cards or other expansion cards.

3. Component installation

It's time to have a look at the chasis internals. All you have to do is to unscrew the three thumbscrews of the chassis cover, slide the cover backwards and upwards, unfasten the rack mount screws and remove the rack:

Below you see a description of the main parts of teh mainboard:

Focusing on the CPU area, there you can mount the latest Socket LGA 1151 processors, namely Intel 6th Gen (Skylake) and Intel 7th Gen (Kabylake) Core i3/i5/i7, Pentium, and Celeron 95W. According to Shuttle, you can play a bit with the frequencies of the CPU, although the company's SZ270R9 model more appropriate for overclocking.

The chasis is equipped with an 80 Plus Sliver 500W power supply, which should be enough for your power needs. You can use the power calculator at Shuttle's webpage in order to calculate the power needs of the components you have chosen to install and whether the 500W PSU covers you. According to Shuttle, an Intel 7700K and an Nvidia 1080 graphics card cofiguration os completely covered by the provided PSU.

Continuing our motherboard inspaction, a PCI-Express x16 v3.0 (PEG, for graphics cards only) and a PCI-Express x4 v3.0 slots are found at the right side of the board, with the latter to be open-ended in case you need it.

There are also two M.2 2280 with type M (1x PCI-Express Gen. 3.0 X4 max. 32 Gbps interface) and and one M.2 2230 with type A/E slots to install M.2 SSD and a WiFi card, or other compatible device. Both support M.2 cards with a width of 22 mm and a length of 42, 60 or 80 mm (type 2242, 2260, 2280), M.2 SSDs with SATA or PCI-Express interfaces.

Below you see the 80 Plus Sliver 500W power supply:

The mainboard has four DIMM slots that support up to 64GB (4x16GB) DDR4-2400.

Removing the CPU cooler is easy; just unfasten the ICE fan thumbscrews on the back of the chassis, then unfasten the four ICE module attachment screws and unplug the fan connector. The Shuttle XPC cube features Shuttle’s ICE 2 heat pipe technology. It uses convection cooling to dissipate heat away from the CPU. The ICE2 copper tubes, coated in nickel for enhanced tube hardness and rust-proof protection, are filled with distilled water to channel heat. The SZ270R8 is specially is configured with four heat pipes instead of three, in order to provide even better cooling performance:

The included 92mm fan supports PWM and proved to be strong enough during out tests:

Installing the CPU and memory is very easy, but if you haven't done it before, just follow the instructions bundled wit the package. Have in mind that the 1151-pin socket is fragile and can be easily damaged. Use extreme care when installing a CPU and limit the number of times that you remove or change it. Before installing the CPU, make sure to turn off the computer and unplug the power cord from the power outlet.

Please be aware of the CPU orientation, DO NOT force the CPU into the socket to avoid bending of pins. Make sure to orientate the CPU correctly and align the CPU notches with the socket alignment keys. After making sure that the CPU sits perfectly horizontal, push it gently into the socket. Close the metal load plate, lower the CPU socket lever and lock in place. Then spread thermal paste evenly on the CPU surface.

4. Benchmarks, temperatures

After you get everything installed and secured in place, its time to install Windows. Shuttle supports Windows 7 64bit (Skylake), Windows 10 64bit and Linux OS. In our case we used the latest Windows 10 x64 Pro version. Following the installation, most of the installed components were recognized without needing to install any additional drivers. Of course, you can can always download the latest drivers from Shuttle or any tthird party website.

Our box arrived with 1.08 bios installed and we initially ran all our tests with that version installed. Later we also updated the box to the latest v1.10, which fixed the Spectre/Meltdown vulnerabilities.

Using GRC's InSpectre utility, we confirmed that the updated system hardware and software prevents Meltdown and Spectre attacks:

But first let's see some information s about our system, as it was reported by the CPU-Z and GPU-Z utilities:

During our tests, our system was running at the stock speeds for the Intel 7700K (4.2Ghz ~ 4.5Ghz) and the Crucial Memory was running at 2400Mhz using the included XMP memory profiles.

Below you see memory performance of the system using the AIDA64 Extreme benchmark. The results are very encouraging compared to other systems:

Below you see some interesting results ew got from various benchmarks, with Bios v1.08, v1.09 (Spectre/Meltdown) and v1.09 bios with the system overclocked:

Bios 1.08
Bios 1.10
Bios 1.10
+ OC (4.8Ghz)
3DMark (TimeSpy)
CPU-Z Single Thread
CPU-Z Multi Thead
PassMark 9 Total Score
CineBench R10 1x cpu
CineBench R10 x cpu
CineBench R11.5 1x cpu
CineBench R11.5 x cpu
CineBench R15 1x cpu
CineBench R15 x cpu
Coron 1.3 BenchMark
Arion Benchmark

In some csaes, the Spectre/Meltdown 1.10 bios introduced a slight performance hit vs the 1.08, but in most cases the performance differences are neglectible and as such, there should be no worries here. In any case, you can overclock your CPU - up to 4.8GHz in our case - and enjoy an ever higher result.

Speaking of overclocking, you can easily perfom that by either using the pre-defined overclocking routines under BIOS, or try to manually play with the multiplier+voltage settings in order to get the desirable and stable results. Note that increasing speed has an impact to the temperature of your CPU. By using the Autooverclok function under BIOS, we managed to boost our CPU frequency to 4.8GHz.

We used the Intel Extreme Tuning Utility to test the stability of the overclocked system, and it seems that the cooling setup of the SZ270R8 performed very well, keeping the temperature of our Intel i7-7700k CPU under 71 degrees Celcious during a 4-hour Stress Test:

The temperatures of the Shuttle SZ270R8 system with an Intel i7-7700k and the Asus 1060GTX 6GB VGA card installed were measured during playing sessions of the "Wolfenstein II - The New Colossus" game under "ultra high" settings. The CPU temperature was ranging from 40~71 degrees Celcious, depending the game load, while the reported temperatures for the GPU were at the 49~83 degreesd Celcious range. So depending on your location and the season, you may consider playing in an air-conditioned environment, sincethe temperatures inside the box could reach even higher levels.

In order to lower the temperature inside the box, the idea of undervolting the i7-7700k at stock speeds wasn't out of the question. Our test showed that you can set -0.15V at the CPU core and have a perfectly stable system. This can be performed either under BIOS (permanent change) or under Windows using the Intel Extreme Tuning Utility:

5. Summary

The Shuttle SZ270R8 barebone box, based on the Intel Z270 chipse, offers you support for almost everything you could expect from a complete chasis solution - USB3.0, Intel Socket LGA 1151 processors (6h & 7th generation processors), four dimm DDR4 slots for memory up to 64GB and M.2-2280 slots for those fancy and very fast Nvme SSDs.

Shuttle maintained its traditionally high quality standards in terms of style and quality in this design, and the overall experience we had was more than satisfactory in terms of installation, stability and overall performance of the demanding CPU (Intel i7-7700K) and GPU (GTX1060 6GB ) configuration we used. In fact you will be able to squize even more performance out of the box if you perform some overcloking, until the stock cooling reaches its limits. For even more performance, you'd better get a water cooling solution.

It would be also wise to check Shuttle's hardware compatibility page before you choose the CPU and GPU for your Shuttle SZ270R8. That's because the included 500W PSU cannot power extreme configurations, although it fully supported ours - Core i7 7700K, 1080GPU and several HDDs.

Overall, we feel that the Shuttle SZ270R8 is a solid solution if you are seeking for a small and compact chasis for the Intel 7th Generation processor. With the addition of a good graphics card, it will be your next best friend for entertainment and even for gaming.

+ Attractive design
+ Build quality
+ Supports Socket 1151 cpus up to i7-7700k
+ Great performance with i7-7700k
+ Supports Overclocking
+ Supports up to four (4) HDDs/SSDs
+ Many I/O ports (USB3.0, HDMI, DVI, 2x1Gbit Lans)
+ Supports up to 64GB DDR4 memory
+ Can be upgraded with m2280 Nvme SDDs

+ Shuttle already released spectre free BIOS (1.09)

- Enthousiast users need to select a better cooling solution for i7-7700k processors
- Retail price could be lower, considering that the Intel 8th generation processors are already available

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