Cap­ti­vat­ing fun

APC Australia - - Super Guide / Construct The Ultimate Lounge Room P -

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.

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