Shuttle XPC P2 3500G review

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Most gaming machines we see here at PC Pro are big beefy things with in-your-face styling, and they usually come with their fair share of coloured LEDs and noisy cooling fans. All that bling may appeal to hard-core gamers, but not everyone wants their PC to be so obtrusive, which is where this tiny PC fits in.

Shuttle XPC P2 3500G review

Amazingly, Shuttle has managed to squeeze a decent gaming PC into one of its XPC chassis, with understated looks that wouldn’t be out of place in an office or a living room.

Standing at around a third of the height of a full-tower case, it’s a case we’ve seen before from Shuttle in previous machines, and the quality continues to impress us.

There may be none of those traditional gaming adornments – a lack of LEDs, LCD screens and fake carbon fibre – but it does have good build quality in spades.

Shuttle’s many years of experience in making small form factor PCs shines through here, and the inside of the case is far better organised than it would be if you attempted to build such a system yourself. Cables are neatly routed, components fit perfectly and everything can be accessed and removed without the need for tools.

This organisation isn’t only aesthetically important, but is important for cooling, too. With this much power in such a small space, getting good airflow from the fans to the various components is vital if the machine is to run for more than five minutes at a time.

Another nice touch is the case grill, which lines up perfectly with the fan on the processor heatsink. An airtight tunnel is formed between the two with a foam gasket, maximising the cooling effect. Touches like this ensure the PC won’t overheat when under strain.

Despite our best efforts with Crysis and our intensive 2D benchmarks, we couldn’t get the XPC to heat up, and the sides of the case were still cool to the touch after a couple of hours of abuse.

This is impressive, because despite the cramped chassis Shuttle has managed to squeeze in some unlikely components. Leading the line-up is an Intel 2.4GHz Core 2 Quad Q6600, which wowed us in our recent CPU Labs. This offers a healthy amount of power and is backed up with 4GB of RAM in just two DIMM slots, leaving another two free for future upgrades.

Critically for a gaming machine, the Shuttle is also well endowed in the graphics department. Its Radeon 3870 might not be state-of-the-art, but had no problem running Crysis, which is by far the most demanding game available at the moment. Even under our high settings test, it still managed to churn out 24fps, and at medium it breezed through an easily stutter-free 45fps. It’s a big card for such a little machine, though, which means that although there’s one free PCI slot free, it can’t be used because it’s buried under a heatsink.

This is hardly a criticism, though, as it’s unlikely you’d ever need to add any additional cards – the back of the case houses a host of ports, which give a great range of external upgrade options. Two eSATA ports are included for storage upgrades, although another full-sized internal hard disk can easily be accommodated in the case, and six USB sockets and a FireWire port offer connections for numerous peripherals.

There’s also an HDMI port on the rear, so with the 750GB hard disk, big enough to store a huge amount of media, the Shuttle could perform as well as a living-room media-centre PC as it can with games. Its small size and subtle looks mean it would blend in with hi-fi equipment and, although it’s far from silent, it’s certainly far more civilised than a standard gaming machine.

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