Shuttle SX58J3 review
We’ve always been admirers of Shuttle’s diminutive barebone PCS, with designs that have covered practically every AMD and Intel processor of recent years. Despite this, even we were surprised when Shuttle started producing Core i7 compatible barebones. The SX58J3 isn’t for Intel’s newer, more run-of -the-mill LGA1156 designs, though, but the fully-fledged LGA1336 monster chips, beloved of serious gamers and overclocking fans.
From the outside this new Shuttle PC looks pretty much identical to numerous previous models. Its squat metal box is this time bedecked with a black brushed-metal front fascia. Apart from the button to open an installed optical drive, and a new XPC logo, it’s featureless. A door along the bottom opens to reveal two USB ports (one that doubles as an eSATA port) along with a memory card reader (with for SDHC and Memory stick formats) plus microphone and headphone ports.
The rear of the SX58J3 is bedecked with ports, although there are notable omissions. With eight more USB ports and another eSata/USB combo port, you won’t run out of space to plug in peripherals. However, there’s no USB3 support and no optical or coaxial S/PDIFs – just a 7.1 analogue surround sound output. There’s two Gigabit Ethernet ports, but we can’t see many people will find a use for the second one.
Opening up the case reveals the custom-designed motherboard, which is based around the usual X58 chipset. The first thing we noticed was the usual heat-pipe based cooling array, with a pair of pipes circulating heat from the processor to the sizeable heat sink with 80mm exhaust fan at the back of the case.
This design helps keep noise to a minimum and provides some overhead for overclocking. We pushed our test Core i7-920 test processor up to 3.6GHz with no problems; with the BIOS containing all the voltage tweaks you might need. We can’t see it breaking any speed records for overclocking, but it’s certainly capable of getting reasonable gains from popular LGA1366 chips, such as the i7-930. There’s even a clear CMOS button on the rear, so you don’t have to open the case if you’re overclock is a tad on the optimistic side.
Memory support is unusual for an X58-based board, with only four slots rather than the usual six. You still get triple channel memory support, as long as you use at least three modules of course, but you’re limited to 16GB of RAM, rather than the usual 24GB. However, we can’t see many people being worried by such a high limit. There’s a single optical drive bay and two hard disk bays.
There are two PCI-Express x16 slots available for adding cards. With support for CrossFire and SLI, you could in theory add two graphics cards. However, these would have to be single-slot models, which aren’t very common any more. It does means there’s lots of space for adding a dual-slot card, and with space for cards up to 285mm long, you should be able to fit all but the biggest dual-processor cards here.
Shuttle has conveniently positioned two PCI-Express power connectors here to power your chosen card. These run from a compact 500W power supply that sits lengthways down the other side of the case. It has a Bronze 80Plus efficiency rating, which makes it around 85% efficient at 50% load. This was borne out in our power tests, with low usage across the board using our reference components.
In the past, old Shuttle PCs were only good for the scrapheap. Realising that their rather smart casings could have a longer lifespan than the motherboards within, Shuttle have added Mini-ITX support compatibility to their latest cases. So one day you could convert your superfast-Core i7 system into a little server or media centre PC.