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I've built Kev his Shuttle cube PC. Slight problem - the assembly manual was in French!! I understood enough to make head and tail of it though - which was good because in such a small case it really is *very* important to assemble it in the right order and the right order is not the obvious one (who would have thought that the floppy cable had to be connected before the CPU?).
I would think that anyone with big fingers would have problems with this. Getting cables onto mobo connectors was fiddly to say the least. Thanks goodness this comes as a barebones so most of the fiddling with connectors has already been done.
The memory was hardest to fit, there is so little headroom that it was almost impossible to apply pressure straight down onto the memory, it couldn't be fitted from above but had to be slid into place horizontally then turned through 45 deg. just as it reached the socket.
Shuttles come with heat pipes instead of a heatsink - I've never come across one before. It was here that the French instructions proved to be a problem because the illustrations were not good enough to see exactly how it fitted and there were too many technical words that I didn't recognize. Eventually I worked it out and once I had it seemed obvious.
Everything fitted into the tiny case very snuggly and relatively easily and I was soon ready to power up ... but sadly it ships with a French plug too. Off to PCW .. who had sold out of power cables. On to Comet, likewise sold out (did everyone get a PC without a power cable for Christmas?), but they did have a travel adaptor for European plugs in the UK.
The Shuttle and 15" TFT can be picked up together and carried around and the Memorex keyboard comes in a neat carry case so I cut a bit out of the plastic insert shaping and made a space big enough for the optical mouse too.
It really is a very small, neat and good-looking set-up. The onboard sound and graphics seem to be well up to the job. I would recommend a cube system to anyone with space or aesthetic concerns over the big beige box.
Next time friends have a LAN party we shall go just to make them all jealous :-))))
I don't *think* it will need an mods - it comes with hundreds of holes all down both sides and it looks smart. We'll have to see how well the heatpipes work to keep the CPU heat down. The fans are variable speed so they get noisier the hotter the machine gets. Kev has been playing all evening now and they've only speeded up a few times.
The case is aluminium so I chose black facias for the drives. The monitor, keyboard and mouse are all silver or silver and black and the whole thing looks as good as a much more expensive all-in set-up. The case is also available in black which looked pretty cool but it was £30 more and out of stock so I had to stick with alu.
BTW - thanks for the recommendation of the mouse - it really is a good mouse and soooo cheap.
If your parents don't need high specs you could build one quite cheaply I think. I spent about £800 including monitor, WinXP Home, VAT and postage.
The heat pipes are supposed to be better heat dissipators than the usual heat sink. Good for a tight case such as the cube. The better built cubes, such as the Creative cubes, also use this method for cooling.
Aluminium is also a better conductor than stainless steel. Lighter too.
"heat pipes are supposed to be better heat dissipators"
They certainly look as though they should be, as they lead the heat straight to the outside via a variable speed fan. I did read one "review" on Ebuyer from someone who said that s/he had found that it didn't work and had replaced it with an ordinary heatsink. But since every other review either said nothing about it or said that it worked I couldn't help but wonder whether that person had not fittted it properly in the first place (insufficient paste or maybe not removing the plastic on the copper shim).
Actually I read a similar report to that effect in an article in a local computer magazine. The temperatures measured were higher than those recorded for cubes using heatsinks. That was then disputed by both Creative and Shuttle who explained that the conventional method used for measuring the temperature (I've forgotten what it was) was not applicable to a setup like that and the result was misleading, and they were quite firm that their heat management was definitely better. The magazine didn't expressly admit they were wrong but reading between the lines, I think the two companies were right. Anyway, with a small cube like that, heat is always going to be a potential problem, so I would watch out for it.
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