Shuttle, the long time small form factor barebones manufacturer, has recently diversified into a physical larger but greater value alternative with its “T” range of nanoBTX chassis'. However, Shuttle make it clear this is not an XPC, so some of the features you’ve come to expect and love in Shuttle's SFF range simply aren’t there.
It’s perhaps an understatement to say that BTX never really took off and if you type “nanoBTX” into Google the only product result is the Shuttle SS21T. Shuttle has used the form factor to provide a back-to-front PC that’s apparently “constantly upgradable” compared to its XPC range.
However, even though finding a more powerful PSU in the future might be do-able, expect finding a replacement motherboard board to be a damn sight more elusive endeavour. Conspiracy theorists amongst us might argue that this is probably exactly what Shuttle intended, so as you keep buying future Shuttles in their entirety rather than defect elsewhere to upgrade just the internals.
For those who found the XPC range far too restrictive, the SS21T provides two 5.25” bay expansions but only two 3.5” bay expansions compared to the P-series chassis' three.
The product is aimed at businesses, SOHO and general home users that want the attraction of small form factor, but don’t want to pay the hefty premium that smaller form factor products demand. At under £100, the SS21T either appears to be great value for money or possibly cheap and nasty. Do you get what you pay for, or does Shuttle's pedigree history in SFF making shine through?
A Big Brown Box
The SS21T comes in a very plain large brown box which is in complete contrast to the usual colourful marketing on the white boxes the company uses for its XPC range. The box is well packed with the SS21T suspended between two foam inserts.
In the box of extras there is:
A power cable;
Two zip ties;
Twenty case screws;
Multi-language colour installation guide;
Because of the simplistic nature of the system, there’s little need for a manual and the colour guide clearly shows where everything goes and what everything does. However, there is no BIOS or software installation guide to the product like you would get with a full manual.
All the cables you need are pre-installed in the case already, which means there’s less effort needed on your behalf, but it also means there’s more cable mess as cables you aren’t using remain redundant. For example, the floppy cable is plugged in as standard and obscures the northbridge fan and the SATA cables.