Introduction, Design Features
Small, inexpensive computers make glorious gifts, generally for family members who seem to have everything. After all, who couldn’t put an additional PC to good use? And space-strapped businesses like them, too. Smaller PCs meant reduction bureau genuine estate clinging to equipment, and sleeker-looking workspaces.
With advances in compress solid-state storage and new mobile CPUs, by all of 2016 PC makers such as Shuttle have been rolling out new compress desktops, mostly referred to as small-form-factor (SFF) computers. These compress models have been around for years, though they’re absolute adequate now to reinstate many incomparable desktop computers, in many cases.
Finding a place to put a new PC shouldn’t be really formidable in many homes, quite when a mechanism itself is smaller (much smaller, in fact) than a hankie box. If you’ve been regulating an aging laptop or inscription in a kitchen, an SFF PC is a plain replacement. Grab an inexpensive keyboard (or, improved yet, a spill-resistant keyboard), and we have a complement that can hoop homework, video streaming, and recipe searches from your countertop. Or, in a bustling blurb kitchen, that same tiny PC can hoop a patron sequence tide while still being smaller than a saucer.
Prefer to put your compress PC in a family room? Most SFFs are during home alongside your other party devices, though not all compress PCs are adult to a charge of powering complicated 4K TVs, that have a fortitude of during slightest 3,840×2,160. Shuttle’s XPC Nano NC02U3 Series is able of doing accurately that, however, so we motionless to take it for a spin. It’s an SFF PC that’s both ideally matched to stealing alongside or behind a large TV or monitor, or tucked into a niche in a business or point-of-sale environment. (Some bequest ports onboard fit it to that latter use case, too.)
Although mid- and full-size desktop PCs infrequently embody a (very basic) keyboard and rodent combo, SFFs rarely, if ever, boat with any peripherals. The XPC Nano’s shipping box isn’t many bigger than a shoebox, and it includes customarily a XPC Nano system, a energy brick, and a few tiny accessories for attaching a framework to a tiny mountain or a behind of a monitor. You’re on your possess for pronounced monitor, of course, as good as a keyboard and mouse. But if all we need is a tiny complement with copiousness of connectivity for elementary capability work, this one brings a goods.
The pricing is some-more or reduction dead-on for this category of system. Shuttle offers this indication as a “NC02U,” a bare-bones PC, reduction a RAM, a storage drive, and an OS (all of that we yield and implement yourself), for $359.99 MSRP with a Core i3 CPU. We also speckled a Celeron bare-bones various during $150. (Bare-bones systems are directed during DIYers who wish to customize a PC themselves and yield a accurate core components and OS they want.)
Although a bare-bones models of Shuttle’s XPC Nano NC02U array are already available, a ready-built NC02U3 chronicle that we tested here won’t strike U.S. retailers until Feb 2017. That system, as we tested it, has an MSRP of $859.99, though according to Shuttle will substantially sell closer to $775. That’s really many in line with a pricing of identical pre-built Core i3 configurations of Intel’s Next Unit of Computing (NUC) mini-PCs accessible on Newegg.com.
Shuttle oversells a XPC Nano’s measure a bit when it refers to a PC as “palm-sized,” though there’s no doubt that a XPC Nano is intensely small. The mechanism is a 5.6×5.6-inch block that sits usually 1.7 inches off a belligerent (when horizontally oriented; some-more on that in a moment). For comparison, that’s a tiny smaller (and usually a smidge taller) than a customary Sony Blu-ray player. It’s also right in line with Intel’s Next Unit of Computing (NUC) bare-bones mini-PCs, like a Intel NUC 5i7RYH we tested final year.
The XPC Nano has 3 chain options, interjection to those accessories we mentioned earlier. Its customary position is to lay prosaic and low to a ground, that will work excellent for many situations. You can also mountain adult a XPC Nano on one of a slight edges by attaching a set of enclosed feet, manifest above. This proceed saves a tiny space, though not much, as a feet hang out distant on possibly side for stability. Attaching a feet is as elementary as installing 4 enclosed screws. The steel feet have rubber treads to strengthen (and grip) your table surface.
The XPC Nano also includes a VESA-compatible ascent pack that attaches a PC’s physique to a behind of a so-equipped TV or monitor. It’s a two-part mountain that creates attaching (and removing) a Nano a elementary process. If you’re really pulpy for space, attaching a XPC Nano to a behind of your guard will solve that problem, though keep in mind that you’ll need to strech behind your guard anytime we wish to insert a USB expostulate or SD card, perform a tough reset, or insert or detach cables.
Shuttle kept things elementary when conceptualizing a XPC Nano. The cosmetic framework has china sides and a black tip that looks like brushed aluminum, giving it usually a spirit of style. Still, if a XPC Nano gets any courtesy during all from your friends or colleagues, it’ll be for a size, rather than a looks. We’re a tiny unhappy that Shuttle kept a bottom of a framework silver, instead of creation it black like a top. When we put a complement on a feet, a XPC Nano’s industrial-looking china bottom, brimful with screw mounts and stickers, becomes a side, detracting from what tiny stylishness a XPC Nano mustered in a initial place.
Then again, a XPC Nano is some-more about preference than looking spiffy. A compress PC is meant to be something we can tuck out of a way, so in many cases, people won’t even see a XPC Nano. In situations where a complement is visible, it looks like a plain set-top box.
One of a downsides to going with a compress PC is that we customarily give adult certain facilities and opening that a incomparable desktop offers. Shuttle, that has been building SFFs for decades, is an consultant during squeezing facilities into a tiny chassis. The front row sports a USB 3.0 Type-A port, along with a USB 3.0 Type-C pier and an SD label reader. (Shuttle records that this XPC Nano indication is a initial to accept a USB 3.0 Type-C port.) The energy symbol also sits on a front panel, flanked on any side by power- and hard-drive-status LEDs.
The XPC Nano’s right side has a customary Kensington-style cable-lock notch, though aside from that and some cooling vents, that side is bare. The left side, meanwhile, has a pier that we don’t see really mostly anymore: an RS-232 sequence port. For some business uses, this pier competence come in handy—indeed, a XPC Nano is designed to overpass a business and consumer worlds—but many home users will omit this antique port. A emporium or workfloor with a serial-interface bar-code scanner in use (say, during a indicate of sale, or for contrast equipment) will conclude this, however.
The bulk of a XPC Nano’s ports are on a behind edge. Here, you’ll find dual USB 2.0 ports, though no some-more USB 3.0s, that is a tiny disappointing. Most buyers will use these behind USB ports for their keyboard and mouse, for that a USB 2.0 customary is usually fine. But we’d like to see an additional USB 3.0 pier here for people who have mixed inclination that use a faster standard. As it stands, a Nano has usually that one USB 3.0 Type-A pier on a front panel, and a Type-C for that few common peripherals are in many folks’ hands.
The behind also facilities a DisplayPort video-out, as good as a HDMI outlay that you’ll approaching use to bond a XPC Nano to your 4K TV, if that’s what we bought a XPC Nano for. And Shuttle is betting that 4K support is going to be a deal-maker for some buyers: It promotes a XPC Nano’s 4K capabilities heavily.
It’s value observant that we can run dual monitors off a XPC Nano at once. Connect one guard to a DisplayPort and a other to a HDMI port, and you’re all set. Given that many of a XPC Nano’s interest is how it fits in tiny spaces, we doubt that many units will finish adult in dual-monitor setups, though we don’t mind a additional capability. In theory, we could energy a dual-display desktop for light bureau work with no pointer of a PC itself, mounted behind one of a monitors.
Other ports during a behind of a XPC Nano include a headphone/mic combo jack, a power-adapter port, and a Gigabit Ethernet jack. The complement also has Wi-Fi, of course, that we’ll plead after in a review.
As we mentioned, Shuttle offers bare-bones models of a XPC Nano NC02U, though we kicked a tires on a finish system, that Shuttle dubs indication NC02U3. We also non-stop it adult to see possibly upgrading components would be difficult, and were agreeably surprised.
We had a complement open in minutes. Shuttle combined dual tiny divots to a right side of a XPC Nano so we can examine off a tip and bottom of a PC’s box after stealing a screws. The XPC Nano’s motherboard sits in a core of a system, charity mostly unrestricted views of a many critical components. The side suggested by stealing a XPC Nano’s tip cover facilities a processor, that is lonesome by a heatsink and a system’s solitary fan, along with one of a dual SO-DIMM memory slots. (In a exam system, this container was empty, definition we could supplement another 4GB SO-DIMM to move a sum complement memory to a some-more savoury 8GB.)
This side also has an M.2 Type-2280 slot, that supports M.2 solid-state drives (SSDs) that are 22mm far-reaching and adult to 80mm long. (These are gumstick-size SSDs; see a beam to The Best M.2 Solid-State Drives for some credentials on these.) The house has a mobile brace and holes during a 42mm and 60mm positions, giving we additional options for installing shorter M.2 drives. But we should note that a complement as a whole supports customarily one M.2 SSD during a time.
Opening a other side of a XPC Nano, we immediately saw a categorical storage drive, a 2.5-inch customary SSD, that was trustworthy to a inside of a bottom cover. A expostulate sled creates it easy to mislay a expostulate (or implement one on a bare-bones model). Shuttle designed a tray to support Serial ATA drives trimming from 7mm to 15mm thick, covering many, though not all, 2.5-inch SSDs and tough drives. Almost all complicated 2.5-inchers ought to fit, but still, compensate courtesy to a drive-thickness dimension when selling for storage. You can use a expostulate in this brook in place of, or in further to, an M.2 SSD in a categorical M.2 slot. Either can be a foot drive.
This side of a complement also facilities a second M.2 container for a wireless label (which is included), as good as another container for a main-memory SO-DIMM. In a exam system, this container hold one 4GB memory module. You can see both a M.2 Wi-Fi label and a one RAM procedure in a picture below.
The Shuttle XPC Nano NC02U3 we tested featured a 6th-Generation Intel Core i3-6100U “Skylake” processor using during 2.3GHz, along with 4GB of memory. Thanks to a CPU, a XPC Nano makes use of Intel’s HD Graphics 520 integrated graphics, that should be adequate flesh to hoop a party tasks typically asked of a living-room PC. You can forget personification graphics-intensive video games, though that’s to be approaching with an ultra-compact system. In any event, onboard graphics are a order in compress systems like this one.
Audio comes by approach of a Realtek ALC662 codec, while an Intel I211 handles a Gigabit Ethernet connectivity. The XPC Nano also has built-in 802.11n wireless networking, that can hoop video streaming. Still, we would have favourite to see 802.11ac onboard, that has been around prolonged adequate that it should be customary on PCs above a many basic. The Asus VivoMini VC65, a competing compress PC, facilities 802.11ac in some models.
In a pre-built configuration, a 128GB SATA SSD we graphic above (a Transcend SSD420 array drive) supposing modest-but-speedy storage. As we mentioned earlier, a XPC Nano also has that M.2-drive slot, that means we can supplement some-more rapid storage if your 2.5-inch tough expostulate or SSD doesn’t yield adequate on a own. The M.2 expostulate container supports M.2 SSDs of possibly a SATA or (generally faster) PCI Express persuasion.
If we opt for a bare-bones chronicle of a Nano, we can implement adult to 32GB of memory in a dual DDR3L slots (via dual 16GB SO-DIMMs). You can also supplement a tough expostulate or SSD of your choice in place of a Transcend that we got.