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A closer look
At 320mm x 210mm x 220m, Shuttle's new P-series chassis is a little bigger in all directions than the familiar G-series. Here they are side by side:


The SB81P is still a very compact box, but it's a little larger than your average toaster.


Shuttle's new stealthed drive cover does an excellent job hiding that big, bad, beige DVD drive. Notice that the eject button resides just above the plastic flap covering the drive. That means the button will serve to tell the drive to retract a disc, not just to eject one. This is exactly what we asked for last time out. Perfect.

The optical drive does sit back into the bay a little bit, so you've got to tilt the disc a little to remove it from the tray. By now, this behavior is second nature to me, though, because many systems are like this.


The other two covers up front hide the external 3.5" drive bay and an array of audio, USB, and Firewire ports. That 3.5" bay may be more likely to host an internal drive than a floppy, since those slots at the very top of the front face are part of the SB81P's built-in six-in-one flash card reader.


Around back, the SB81P has a healthy selection of ports, including no less than eight different audio ports, including both optical and coaxial SPDIF outputs. There's a VGA port for the integrated graphics, plus the expected RJ-45 port for Gigabit Ethernet. Also, right between the Firewire and VGA ports is a little, recessed button that will allow folks to clear the CMOS without opening the case. This is a good idea carried over from the Zen XPC, and I used it several times in working with the SB81P. I'd like to see makers of full-size PC enclosures follow Shuttle's lead here, because the clear CMOS button is a very handy feature.


The SB81P's belly is vented to allow air intake, and the round indention you can see there sits right underneath the CPU socket, presumably to pull some heat away from beneath the processor.