February 07, 2005

Shuttle SB86i i-Series Review

The Tech-Report reviews Shuttle's new SB86i, the first in the company's i-Series. With the name and even the look, it's obvious the company wants a little bit of Apple's iMac magic. Frankly I think the Mac Mini is going to take a lot of share away from users who were in the market for a cube design with low noise, myself being one of them. The SB86i seems to be a solid offering with the only downside being memory cooling stability and mid-level noise volume. The styling is nice and I like the location of the USB and Firewire ports on the side.

The big issue is stability with lower fan speed settings. With the Smart Fan and lower fan speed settings, the system consistently crashed in memory benchmarks. Interestingly, it was perfectly stable otherwise. No amount of stress testing could invoke CPU throttling, suggesting that while processor cooling is sufficient, memory cooling is not... Cooling and noise issues aside, the SB86i is really quite attractive. The system offers a good mix of expansion options, the internals are tidy and surprisingly easy to work with, performance is generally competitive, and aesthetics are clean and stylish.