What we love about the Shift is its versatility. It’s such a neat little case to work in. It has its limitations, sure, but for those who need the additional storage or space, you can always opt for the larger Shift X instead.
Weirdly, it’s one of the few cases we’ve had to tinker with more than we thought we’d need to. For instance, the motherboard went in and out three times, the PSU took us the best part of an hour to figure out how to mount it in the chassis, and working out how to use the storage and where to stick the GPU was more time-consuming than we’d anticipated.
What would we change? More cooling, for a start. By default, the Shift comes with a single 140mm fan configured as an exhaust, next to the motherboard and the GPU. In an ideal world, we would have left that, and installed two intake fans in the bottom instead. For a standard PC build, we’d have likely also gone for a liquid-cooled 120mm AIO for the CPU instead. That way, we’d have less to worry about when it comes to keeping the CPU cool, and the AIO would be in the bottom compartment. Sticking with air cooling, though, a slimmer CPU tower would be on the cards; having one right up against the glass like that isn’t conducive to good airflow.
Then there’s the motherboard and CPU combo. Would we stick with AMD? If we were to build this for ourselves, probably not. We’re not after masses of cores here, or integrated GPU performance—more the ability to encode with HDCP 2.2. The reality is, we’d probably take out the Ryzen 5 2400G and replace it with the Intel Core i3-8100 we mentioned earlier, and pair that with something like the Asus ROG Strix H370-I ($229). It’s far cheaper than the AMD variant used, comes with Wireless A/C, HDMI, DisplayPort, optical audio out, 5.1 audio, and dual Ethernet ports. Connect one of the latter to your in-house NAS, and you nullify the need to have additional drives.
Speaking of storage, we’re still not convinced about those two 2.5-inch mounts to the left of the mobo, especially with the PCIe card being as flexible as it is. There is potential in the Shift to mount a 3.5-inch hard drive in the bottom of the chassis, but you would need to make sure it’s secure if you were to reorient the chassis or lay it on its side.
As for performance, it’s a meaty little rig, even with the meager 8GB of DDR4. Storage is zippy, 1080p gaming performance competent enough (despite the lack of 16 PCIe lanes), and overall thermals are relatively low. We’re certainly happy with it, and it should make a nice little media streamer for our office lunch breaks.
1 3 4 2 1 We’ll be honest: This CPU heatsink is probably a bit too close to the glass window. We’re running the 140mm fan to the right as an intake to compensate. 2 Another intake fan in the bottom here would have been ideal to feed both the system and the GPU. 3 There are two 2.5-inch SSD mounting brackets located here. For anyone after more affordable storage, you’d need to source some 2.5-inch HDDs. 4 Some cable ties would have helped solve this cable mess, no problem.