A new look for a new platform. And the second version of Shuttle's 'P' series of chassis certainly maintains the classy facades that we have come to expect from the SFF maker. The front bezel mixes glossy reflective plastic with pseudo wooden panels (complete with the grains and lines that remind us of wood, even if they are actually plastic) and the effect is decidedly upmarket. All the drive bays are hidden behind these plastic doors. This image is complemented by the ribbed and protruding silvery power switch and LED indicators.
The rest of the casing is made from brushed aluminum similar to what you'll find on many casings. Meaning that leaving fingerprints behind when moving the SN27P2 is almost a certainty. And it is quite tempting to move this SFF around, since it weighs only around 6kg fully loaded. One major difference from previous 'P' chassis SFFs is that Shuttle has removed the very useful integrated card reader. We have no idea why Shuttle opted to remove it as there seems to be ample space on the front bezel to have included it. It could be that the card reader spoilt the smooth appearance of the new front bezel but whatever the reason, this is a minus from the original 'P' chassis.
The bottom panel hides the unsightly ports, of which the SN27P2 carries quite a number, from the standard USB2.0 ports to a mini FireWire port. The headphones and microphone jacks are also in place, along with strangely enough, the Reset switch. For some bizarre reason, Shuttle seems to feel that users don't really need the Reset button anymore. Because it is impossible to press the button without a pen or something sharp, as it is recessed within the casing just like Shuttle's Clear CMOS button (which is found among the back I/O ports). Maybe they didn't want users to hit the Reset by accident but this seemed a rather strange decision to us.
Finally, the back of the SN27P2 is familiar to those who have seen the 'P' chassis. There are vent holes for the PSU fan and the two smart fans at the top. The rear I/O ports are located where they should be, the new addition being an external SATA port. There are also no legacy ports remaining on the SN27P2, so if you have a PS/2 mouse or keyboard, you are out of luck. It's about time to change to the USB versions anyway if you haven't and there are six USB2.0 ports at the back, which should be sufficient for most users. Also note that you won't find a Serial or Parallel port as this XPC is strictly legacy free. Shuttle's distinctive Clear CMOS button can be found at the back and we found it extremely useful during our overclocking tests, after we were too ambitious with our settings and needed to restore the BIOS defaults to get the system running again.