Shuttle XPC Prima SX38P2 Pro (Intel X38)

Pitch Black Exterior

Pitch Black Exterior

Shuttle's recent XPC models have been in black and the SX38P2 Pro is no different. Aluminum is heavily used so as to minimize the weight of the chassis and the familiar cubic form factor makes it compact enough to be carried to a LAN gathering. The front panels have a slight woody texture and act as camouflage to blend with your other living room consumer electronics. All unsightly drives are concealed behind these panels while a strip of silver (with the power and eject buttons) provides a nice contrast from all the black.

The ribbed buttons on the P2 chassis should be familiar to some. In case you are confused, the middle 'button' here doesn't work (it's just a LED) while the reset button is found at the bottom, along with the rest of the front I/O ports.

Ventilation is a major concern for a SFF and this enclosure comes with many ventilation holes, including an unrestricted air 'channel' for the CPU cooler. You can catch a glimpse of the fan for that cooler in this photo.

There were a couple of surprises in store for us. First, at the bottom of the chassis is a compartment for a mini card slot. Here is where the enthusiast can add an optional flash memory module to enable the Turbo Memory feature on this SFF. Although we doubt there would be many takers given the less than impressive performance of this feature, it certainly reinforces the impression that this Shuttle is targeted at the extremely high-end enthusiast.

At the bottom of the chassis is this compartment for a mini card slot. According to Shuttle, this slot is used to implement Intel's Turbo Memory feature i.e. where the additional flash memory will be installed. It's an optional feature and given what we have heard and tried about the dubious benefits of this technology, we aren't too sold on it. In any case, it can act as your WiFi adapter slot.

Then there's the presence of a fingerprint sensor located with the rest of the other hidden front I/O ports. Along with the usual ports like FireWire, USB 2.0 and audio jacks, this sensor allows you to lock down your system and usually found on notebooks. We suppose since this SFF is almost as handy as a notebook, Shuttle decided it needed such a feature. It's all extra icing to us, though it's likely to be reflected in the price tag. The reset button is also found with the front I/O ports, a location which isn't too friendly for the user. The USB Speed-link button is another unusual feature that allows the Shuttle to read and access the contents of another PC via USB 2.0, treating the other PC like a 'removable drive'. Transferring files just became a lot easier, without setting up a network or using cross Ethernet cables. Handy indeed, and Shuttle has thoughtfully included the interconnecting cable too.

The fingerprint sensor here (left corner) is something we don't usually find on a desktop. Besides the usual plethora of front I/O ports, there's a USB Speed-Link button that allows two PCs to be linked via the USB channel for easy file transfers without the need for drivers.

Of course, fingerprint recognition and security software is included with the sensor. However, while it could register multiple profiles, the software had a strange tendency to uninstall itself if you didn't create a profile the first time you run it.

The rear end of the Shuttle is dominated by the exhaust of three fans, the larger one belonging to the PSU and two quiet smaller fans for the rest of the system. Note that this picture was taken with a graphics card installed.

The addition of eSATA and optical and coaxial S/PDIF means that there are no legacy ports on the SX38P2 Pro. There are however four USB 2.0 ports to compensate.

Shuttle's usual reset CMOS button is as useful and convenient as ever.

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