Shuttle Zen XPC ST62K: Finally, a Quiet SFF PC!

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Rear panel. Note open fan grill, proprietary power connector and absence of PSU fan.

The rear of the case looks familiar, except for the absence of the 40mm PSU fan and IEC power connector found on all the other XPCs. The standard IEC power cord has been replaced with a proprietary 6 pin connector that connects internally directly into the motherboard. This means you also won't find the standard ATX power connection on the ST62K, or the separate cables from the PSU connecting to the components. Instead, internal power headers are fed directly through the motherboard where they reappear near the left front of the case.

One more new feature of the back panel of the ST62K is the "CMOS reset" button, so you don't have to get to the motherboard to hit reset. This is a neat idea but I doubt that anyone will get in enough trouble with the meager 7.5% FSB overclock available in the BIOS to need it. There are the familiar S-Video out, SPDIF output connector (and its pink-colored input companion mounted up high on the left), two Firewire ports, two USB 2.0 ports, VGA out, serial port, an RJ-45 LAN port, 5.1 channel audio outputs, and standard audio connections. On the right side of the case is the cover for the one included PCI slot, and of course, no AGP slot. Also included on the rear plate is a knockout for an optional parallel port connector.

The 80mm grill for the CPU cooling fan is the only exhaust opening for the entire case. No PSU exhaust is needed as there is no PSU in the case! Not only does this remove the intolerably noisy little 40mm PSU exhaust fan of the standard XPCs, it removes a pretty big heat source as well. Without having to cool the warm PSU, the internal case fan have a lighter load and should be able to run slower and quieter. The fan grill on the ST62K is more open than on previous XPCs, which should also make for better cooling and less turbulence noise as well.

INTERIOR DESIGN

The first thing you notice under the cover of the ST62K is the roominess and lack of cable clutter. Partly, this is due to the relocated PSU, partly it is due to nice cable management. Not having the normal 20-pin ATX cable harness automatically cleans up a lot of the wiring. The few internal connectors and custom folded flat ribbon IDE cables have been folded up into "integrated cable management" channels along the sides of the chassis. All the front I/O ports, LED's and switches are also hardwired to directly to the motherboard, just like the rear ports. This removes another source of cable clutter. All of this roomy lack of clutter can only help improve the airflow in this little case. Better airflow equals lower temperatures. Lower temperatures mean you can use a slower, quieter exhaust fan, and end up with a quieter system overall.


Roomy, clutter-free case thanks to external PSU and intelligent cable management.

The 5.25” and 3.5" drive bays are fixed to the chassis unlike the earlier XPCs which were removable. The 3.5” hard drive bay is removable via a thumbscrew and mounted in the 90° orientation that seems to be the current default standard. The orientation of the HDD bay puts the IDE and power connectors in close proximity the the motherboard IDE header and the pre-routed power cable, making for a short and clean wiring job. Another nice touch by the Shuttle designers. There's also a longer IDE cable included with the accessory kit in case you want to install another HDD in the upper 3.5" bay as well.


HDD tray with thumbscrew.


Clean, well routed hard drive cabling. A nice touch!



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