Shuttle D10 review
Shuttle’s barebones systems tend to follow a consistent, compact design, and at first glance it can be hard to tell one model from another.
That’s not a problem with the D10 though – it’s marked out by a 7in LCD touchscreen set into the front of the case, with a resolution of 800 x 480. With characteristic restraint, the manufacturer describes the system’s intended role as the “management of multimedia content and applications”. In other words, it’s a media centre.
As usual with Shuttle, the system arrives with no processor, no RAM and no drives, so the first order of business is to populate its many empty sockets. That’s not as simple as it might sound: the D10 will take a recent Celeron, Pentium or Core 2 Duo processor, but it won’t accept quad-core parts, nor older chips with a TDP greater than 65W.
It’s finicky about RAM too: only DDR2-667 and DDR2-800 are supported, so if you’re hoping to reuse old DIMMs , check their speeds or you may be disappointed. The two DIMM slots will accept up to 2GB each, for a maximum of 4GB.
You have more options when it comes to drives: the D10 offers two SATA channels plus a two-channel IDE controller. Don’t plan to install four drives, though: there’s only space in the chassis for two hard disks and one optical drive, and only two internal power connectors (one Molex, one SATA-type). There’s no eSATA for external drives, and only four USB sockets.
Once that’s done, there’s just one more socket you may wish to attend to: a lone PCI-E x1 slot. Considering grander Shuttle systems (such as the SN78SH7) offer a full PCI-E x16 slot, plus old-school PCI, that does seem rather mean. You can forget about upgrading from the integrated GMA3100 graphics to a serious gaming card, even if the D10’s puny 100W power supply were able to drive one.
But of course the D10 isn’t designed as a gaming PC. It’s intended to serve up media, and for that role the single expansion slot is a convenient way to add a TV tuner.
The system ticks other important media centre boxes too: while idle our test unit drew a fairly frugal 69W, and never exceeded 80W. It was whisper-quiet as well, and if you want to try to make it even quieter there’s space inside for a custom CPU cooler – though probably not enough for a fully passive heatsink.
When you start to actually use the D10, at first it seems cute: you don’t normally see Windows running on such a dinky display. The touchscreen is sensitive and accurate enough to make it easy to pick out music and throw together playlists in Windows Media Player – though it’s recessed in a way that makes it hard to get at the corners of the screen, which is a pain when you want to open the Start menu or close a full-screen window.
It’s when you turn to video that things really fall apart, though. You can connect an HDTV or other external display via the D10’s VGA port, but neither Windows Media Player nor Media Center supports dual monitors; so when you use the touchscreen to launch a video, that’s the screen it shows on.
It’s possible to work around this with a mouse or a remote control, but that’s inelegant and wholly undermines the point of the touchscreen. A Shuttle representative acknowledged the limitation and suggested that we try a third-party player like VLC or Winamp – hardly satisfactory alternatives to Media Center.
You might overlook that in a cheap system, but by the time you equip a D10 with all the necessary components plus a TV tuner you’re getting close to £400 exc VAT. That would be a lot to pay for a media centre with such limited storage options, even if the touchscreen concept worked perfectly.