[REVIEW] Shuttle XH61V + GT Mod
We recently got the opportunity to test one of Shuttle’s newest slim PC’s, behold the XH61V. This model is the “Ivy bridge” upgrade from last year’s “Sandy bridge” XH61 model. Both have LGA1155 sockets supporting Intel i3, i5 and i7 CPU’s with the difference that the new XH61V supports the third generation of these aforementioned CPU’s.
What Shuttle says
“More connectivity, performance and efficiency”
The ultra-compact Shuttle Slim-PC barebone XH61V is an ideal basis of a slim-line nettop PC not only for the home user wanting to setup a small but powerful HTPC, but also for the enterprise or industrial environment. It features Dual LAN for server applications and two serial ports, which are still required for many professional devices. With two digital video outputs you can maximize your efficiency by using two separate monitors. Together with an 22nm Intel Ivy Bridge processor and a 2.5″ SSD storage you can build a very power efficient and reliable system for a wide range of applications, while the heat-pipe cooling ensures the system runs quietly at maximum stability.
- Black Nettop PC
- Dimensions: 240 x 200 x 72 mm (LWH) = 3.5 liters
- Weight: 2.2 kg net, 3.5 kg gross
- Front doors for optical drive and front panel connectors
- Hole for the Kensington Lock at the back panel
- 1x for optical drive (ODD) in slimline format with 12.7 mm height
- 2x 6.35cm/2.5″ for hard disk or SSD (max. height: 9.5 mm, upper bay: 12.7 mm)
- Two pre-installed SATA cables (ODD, HDD) and mounting screws included
Mainboard / Chipset / BIOS
- Mini-ITX Mainboard “FH61V”: 17 x 17 cm
- Chipset: Intel® H61 Express Chipset
- AMI BIOS in 8Mbit EEPROM with SPI interface
- High quality solid capacitors
Supports hardware monitoring and watch dog functionality, Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) and resume after power failure.
Socket 1155 (LGA 1155) supports the second (32nm) and third (22nm) generation of Intel Core i3 / i5 / i7 / Pentium / Celeron processors with a power consumption of up to 65W TDP. Heatpipe technology cooled with two fans (6cm)
2x SO-DIMM slots with 204 pins. Supports DDR3-1066/1333/1600 SDRAM memory (PC3-8500/10600/12800) Dual channel mode supported. Max 16Gb.
- HDMI, max. resolution up to 1920×1200 @ 60Hz
- DVI, max. resolution up to 1920×1200 @ 60Hz
- D-Sub, max. resolution up to 2048×1536 @ 75Hz (optional VGA-to-DVI-adapter required)
- Blu-ray Stereoscopic 3D with HDMI 1.4a 
- HDCP function with DVI and HDMI ports
- Full HD 1080p Blu-ray (BD) / HD-DVD playback with DVI and HDMI ports
- Dual-Independent-Display via HDMI and DVI-I port
Mini PCI Express expansion slots:
- half size, supports PCIe 2.0 and USB 2.0, e.g. for WLAN cards 
- full size, supports PCIe 2.0, SATA 3G and USB 2.0
- Audio Realtek® ALC 662 6-channel High-Definition Audio
- Digital audio output: S/PDIF (optical) and via HDMI
Network & storage
- Dual Realtek 8111E Ethernet network controller (Gigabit RJ45 Teaming, PXE & WOL).
- 3x Serial-ATA II, 3 Gb/s (300 MB/s) bandwidth (UEFI support)
- System includes two pre-installed SATA cables for one 2.5″ hard disk and for one optical slim drive.
- Mic-in, Line-out, 2x USB 2.0
- Power button
Back Panel connectors
- DVI-I connector (supports VGA with optional adapter)
- HDMI 1.4 connector  (supports DVI-D with optional adapter)
- 2x USB 3.0
- 2x USB 2.0
- 2x GigaBit LAN (RJ45)
- 2x RS232 serial ports (5V/12V, 1x switchable to RS422 / RS485)
- Audio Line-in
- Audio Line-out
- Audio Mic-in
- S/PDIF output (optical)
- Perforation for Wireless LAN antennas (2 holes)
- Hole for Kensington Lock
- 6x USB 2.0 (two 2×5 pin header) -
- 2x fan connectors (4 pin) – one is occupied for the system fans
- TPM module header (2×10 pins LPC interface)
- 2x front panel connectors (2×5 pins each, for audio and power button/LED)
Included in the box
- Multi-language user guide
- Driver DVD (Windows 7 32/64 bit, Windows Vista 32/64 bit and Windows XP 32 bit)
- 2x cable for SATA (preinstalled for 2.5 HDD/SSD drive and optical slim drive)
- 1x 4 pin to SATA power cable
- External 90W power adapter with power cord
- Thermal grease
- CPU heat-pipe cooling system
Note: system does not ship with operating system. You are free to install any Windows or Linux flavor you prefer.
Design & aesthetics
The Shuttle XH61V is a very pretty looking computer. The enclosure consists of black painted rolled steel with perforated left and right side. The front is durable black plastic with a glossy finish. The top panel slides off to gain user access to the inside components.
The front consists of 2 push-to-open panels that hide away the optical disk station and USB/Audio ports. The power button and HDD status led are very stylishly incorporated in the push-to-open system. To add that little sparkle to it all, Shuttle added a chrome ring round the power button.
In our system we’ve put an Intel core i7 3770S, OCZ Vertex 4 (an Octane too) and 2x 4Gb Kingston SODIMM 1333Mhz KVR1333D3S9/4G memory (totaling 8Gb). Shuttle provided us with a slimline optical drive (DVD/RW) and the 8Gb Kingston memory to test this system. Mind this barebone ships with the case, mainboard, heatpipe cooling and PSU as standard only.
First a notice on noise levels. This system is pretty straightforward, cooling provided at the side by 2 very slim fans. They give a bit of a whizzy sound comparable with a notebook’s cooling that kicked in, yet a tad more silent. Estimate it around 30Db. We’re not exactly sharing the iPhone app’s decibel reading, as this one was measured in a normal noise environment, and about as inaccurate as a wild guess on the number of ants in a particularly big nest.
What’s accurate, are our readings for Windows and 3Dmark11. This Shuttle XH61V scores 6.5 on the Windows performance scale (if it wasn’t for the built-in HD4000 graphics holding it down, it would have been 7.7 when based on pure calculative power (CPU and SSD combined).
3Dmark11 rated this device at P752 (3Dmark11 is more of a gaming benchmark than a regular PC benchmark, so the score is relative to the CPU’s built-in graphics). We gave ATTO a quick run and noticed the Sata-II ports push on maximum 284Mb/Sec read speed and 268Mb/Sec write speed.
It might not feature the option to house a 3th Gen PCI-e slot, so you are restricted to the CPU’s built-in graphics. Equally a pity the board is limited to SATA-II 3G when we’re convinced it could get that extra kick if Shuttle opted for SATA-III 6G.
However, even on built-in graphics and the SATA-II speed limit, Shuttle managed to make a very solid performing product. We could spot that the core sales are more aimed towards the business market; the XH61V does make an excellent POS or KIOSK device. Trustworthy hardware is key in this sector and this little box was saturated with reliability, even after our 24h rendering tests.
Another part of the potential sales will be home users like you & me. The looks of the XH61V is really a class act on its own. Performance wise this device will make most beefy HTPC’s bite the dust.*
*(if you stick an Ivy bridge i7 which supports Intel HD4000 Graphics under its little bonnet).
Special: GT case mod
The answer is no. We couldn’t contain us. Reviews and tests are nice, but what if we gave you a little special “fan service”?
And so we did, welcome to the GT case mod! What we did is simple, rip everything up, cut everything open and reassemble everything back in good faith.
Materials/Tools used: Dremel, fiberglass reinforced cutting blades, a racing grade genuine car grill, chrome letters, chrome car strip, 3M Carbon fiber decal foil, light reflective white tape, super glue, heat resistant silicone rubber, a Noctua low-profile high performance CPU cooler, a dual red cathode kit, a sound activated CCFL controller and an amber bright 5-LED light.
Requires no special skills except for a creative mind and plenty of patience to let everything dry out properly.
Idea behind the mod:
Computers look like computers, so we wanted something fresh. There are thousands of computer cases with a translucid side panel stuffed with aftermarket coolers and neon lights inside, so that doesn’t cut it for us.
The inspiration came from the black Dodge Charger R/T from the movie “The fast and the furious” with a few custom changes. Since this XH61V has excellent proportions for this type of mod, we decided to stick with our initial idea.
Better cooling performance and silent operation, for this experience we had to knock on the door of Austria’s Noctua. Noctua is a leader in ultra low noise technology, and were kind to provide us with their ultra low profile NH-L12. This model is actually the latest add-on to their product range. It’s only 66mm in height, 128mm in width and 150mm deep. Weight: 415Gr without fan, 680Gr with fan. Not your average featherweight cooler, but truly a top notch CPU cooler. Default it ships with a 120mm fan on top and 92mm fan below the cooling fins.
Normally the Noctua NH-L12 is 93mm in height when you count the top loaded 120mm ULNA capable fan. Noctua either recommends using both fans, or only the 92mm fan at the bottom. However we fitted the 120mm fan at the bottom and didn’t use the 92mm. Why? The general idea with this particular cooler was to mimic a car radiator/turbo so a fan on top just didn’t look right.
To make sure the cooling fins mimicking the turbo “popping out of the hood”, we had to cut the top plate of the Shuttle XH61V and put new motherboard retaining bolts inside to give it the extra height.
The sides and back of the Shuttle XH61V got cut out too to make place for our car grill (diamond cut pattern aluminum). This gave the complete system that extra breath of fresh air and served purpose to see the CCFL and LED light kits inside.
Light: the idea behind using sound activated cold cathodes in red combined with a fixed amber LED strip is because when you play music in the room, the CCFL’s start flashing (reacting to the sound pitches). Combine a variable red flashing pattern with amber and you get a “fire inside” effect, giving the GT that turbo swag we were looking for.
The light reflective tape was used to give this computer a special glow in the evening. The carbon fiber used the cover the entire case gives it a special racing touch. The cooling fins sticking out on both sides are pure cosmetic and are not connected to the CPU’s cooling heatpipes. But it gives the impression they are. You like?
I’ve been thinking on selling this system and give the profit to charity. If you are interested in this system, or other custom-built pieces, give me a shout at ike[at]akihabaranews.com