I should begin by saying that I have always been impressed with this system, and that's going to show in my review! The first time I had the opportunity to work with this system, I was very surprised and impressed with what I saw. It is now a frequent seller on our website as part of our Micro System, and I always recommend it when someone is looking for something small.
Box and Contents
The Shuttle FSYS-SV24 comes in a box that doubles very nicely as a carrier. I don't know about most people, but one big reason why I would get a system this small is so that it will be portable, and its sturdy box definitely helps out. In the box, you'll find your standard stuff -- the manual and driver disks, IDE and power cables, and assorted screws. With this system, you also receive a PCI elbow adapter, and a low profile CPU heatsink.
I'm not sure why, but the low profile heat sink really impressed me. Lucky for Shuttle, I am putting a relatively slow Celeron processor into this system, and that processor does not generate a great deal of heat. With components this small, and a box this tightly packed, I would not be surprised to see cooling problems, so I'm sticking with a processor that doesn't aggravate that problem.
In the picture above, I'm holding the system in my hand, just to give you an idea of how small it is. I like to say that it is the size of a toaster. That might be a little bit of a stretch, but its close! In the picture to the right, you see all the ports in the back of the system. Nearly everything is onboard -- you have your standard keyboard, mouse, serial, parallel, and USB ports (two in back and another two in front), as well as onboard video (including s-video and RCA TV output!), onboard firewire, onboard 10/100 network, and onboard sound (with front jacks as well). In fact, the only feature this thing lacks is an onboard modem!
Once you open up the machine, you start to get a feel for how its all going to work together. A hard drive rack slides out the back, making the mounting of the hard drive very easy. On the side, you see the single PCI port, which faces upward -- now we know why we need the PCI elbow adapter. An incredibly small power supply is situated in the front of the case. The processor and memory installation is very straight forward, and Shuttle gives you pretty convenient access to those areas so it isn't a difficult maneuver!
The PCI Card
As is probably obvious by now, the PCI elbow adapter simply bridges the corner so that your PCI card can lay on its side. Now it becomes very obvious why the low profile heatsink was needed. Look that that clearance! With under a centimeter of clearance, I am starting to worry about airflow, but at least the modem only covers half the fan area. This modem is also much larger than many modems out there -- a half height card would give plenty of airflow room to the CPU.
Hard Drive, Floppy and CDROM
Installation of the hard drive and floppy drive is very self-explanatory. The hard drive just slides in with its mounting and is secured with thumb screws. The floppy drive takes a little work to align properly, but that's nothing new. I continue to be impressed with how little space is wasted. The PCI card is right next to the CPU, and the hard drive leaves no space between it and the PCI card. Lastly, the CDROM (or DVD in my case) sits flush on top of the floppy and hard drives. And finally, in the picture on the right, I find wasted space! I can't be too critical -- that fan is what's cooling this whole system. Shuttle was right to give it some breathing room!
And here we have it, our assembled Shuttle FSYS-SV24 system. With nearly every device onboard, this certainly isn't going to be a gaming machine! What it does give me, though, is a completely portable computer with a 120GB hard drive and DVD player, that I can hookup to any stereo or TV that I come across! Paired up with a flexible (and washable) keyboard and optical mouse (both available on our configuration page), I'm set to go! Sure, I could have just gotten a laptop, but with 120GB and a DVD player (not to mention TV output), I'd be paying twice as much!
In fact, the only thing I don't like about this system is that I'm limited to a Celeron or Pentium3 processor. However, one quick check with Shuttle, and sure enough -- there's a new version with AthlonXP or Pentium4 support! I can only assume those models to be just as efficient, though I do have to say that I'm curious as to how they handle the potential cooling problem. A Celeron might not put out much heat, but an AthlonXP and Pentium4 definitely will. Even though those newer models are not yet listed on our website, we'd be happy to put a system together for you -- just drop us an email and we'll put together a quote for you!