Shuttle SB86i BTX SFF system

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April 3, 2005 by Devon Cooke and Mike Chin

Product
Shuttle SB86i
Manufacturer
Shuttle
Selling Price
~US$300

Intel's BTX form factor has been around since Fall 2003, but its adoption by the PC industry has been slow, and it is only now, in early 2005, that BTX systems are beginning to appear on the market. One of the reasons for developing BTX was to create a standard that could be used in the SFF market; unlike the ATX standard, BTX was conceived from the start to be scalable down in size.

Shuttle's SB86i — in particular, the "i" chassis that it is based on — is the first SFF system that is fully BTX compliant. One feature of this BTX-based design is that only two fans are needed to cool the entire case: The heatsink fan and the PSU fan. The warmest components on the motherboard are meant receive adequate cooling using just the airflow provided by the heatsink fan.

Apart from being designed in accordance with BTX, the SB86i is also sold as a quiet system, with a number of features designed specifically with noise-related concerns in mind. Foremost among these is the steel construction of the case, making this the first (and only) steel SFF system that we know of. Other noise-related features include rubber-grommeted hard drives and intake vents that are open but do not provide a direct noise path to the user.


Only a single optical drive bay disrupts the smooth white finish of the front bezel.


The rear panel is very well vented.

SPECIFICATIONS AND FEATURES

The SB86i should have no problems keeping up with its competitors; the FB86 motherboard that it ships with is based on the Intel 915G chipset and comes with both integrated video and eight channel audio. If Intel's integrated graphics chip won't run the latest games to your satisfaction, you're free to add your own PCIe card to soup up graphics performance even more. The motherboard is Socket T, so it supports all the latest (and hottest) Intel CPUs.

One feature that we haven't seen before in a SFF system is Intel's Matrix Storage Technology, which allows both RAID striping and mirroring across only two drives. Because the SB86i has only two 3.5" drive bays, this feature helps the system keep up to its larger, more fully-featured desktop brethren. However, this feature is only for those comfortable with learning as they go; installation requires an external USB floppy drive, and no documentation is included. There is a separate RAID manual to help set up the system in standard RAID 0/1 configurations, but the Matrix Storage feature is not mentioned in this manual.

Shuttle SB86i Specifications

Processor

Intel Socket T Pentium 4 / Celeron

Memory

Dual-channel DDR 400/333
(2) DIMM slots (2 GB Max)

Motherboard

FB86

Intel 915G + ICH6-R chipset
800/533 MHz FSB
1 x 32-bit PCI slot

Graphics

x16 PCI Express slot

Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 900
DVMT memory architecture

Audio

8-channel audio

Digital (SPDIF) audio ports
Analog audio ports

Network

Gigabit LAN

Storage

(1) ATA100 header

(4) Serial ATA 150 headers
(1) 5.25" storage bay
(2) 3.5" storage bays

Front-panel I/O

8-in-1 card reader

(2) USB 2.0 ports
FireWire port
Microphone port
Headphone port
Power button

Rear-panel I/O

PS/2 Keyboard port

PS/2 Mouse port
(2) USB 2.0 ports
FireWire 400 port
VGA-out
Gigabit LAN (RJ-45)
8-channel audio out
SPDIF I/O ports
Coaxial Audio port
Serial port
CMOS reset button
Optional parallel port

Power Supply

275W PSU

Dimensions (L x W x H, mm)

375 x 240 x 195

Weight (net / gross; kg)

4.2 / 8.1

The influence of BTX is evident throughout the SB86i. Unlike any other SFF that we've seen, the included power supply conforms to a standard form factor: CFX, a standard designed in parallel with BTX that is designed for use in SFF systems. This means that replacing the stock power supply with a quieter one should be viable once more BTX products become available on the market.

Another BTX feature is the use of a standard Intel "Thermal Module" to cool the CPU. Since the dimensions of the Thermal Module are defined by Intel, it is likely that a market for aftermarket Thermal Modules, including quieter models, could develop as BTX gains wider adoption. As with the PSU, this should make it easier to mod this particular SFF system for silence. Furthermore, Intel's Thermal Module is quite large already, so many smaller heatsinks that are already on the market may fit the SB86i without requiring modification.

One component that isn't quite typical of BTX is the motherboard. All BTX motherboards are required to be 266.70mm deep with width ranging from 203.20mm to 325.12mm. However, most motherboards are assumed to follow one of three "typical" sizes: BTX with seven expansion slots, microBTX with four, or picoBTX with one. The FB86 motherboard falls somewhere in between micro and pico BTX with two expansion slots and a width of 227mm.



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