Ever since I first saw the Shuttle K45
I've wanted to base a build around one. After a fair bit of research I discovered that although the stock motherboard had limited futureproofing the mounting points were in fact standard mini-ITX, as was the rear panel. Coupled with some very interesting mini-ITX boards coming out (or forecast to) at around the same time, I was hooked.
Unfortunately, real life got in the way. The original K45 went out of production, superseded by the K45SE. Although it retained the same cute formfactor I lost out on the classic shuttle clean lines - ugly optical drive on the front, front mounted ports. I desperately searched online and local computer stores, trying to find one in stock. With none available I resorted to ringing shuttle directly, begging for any old stock or even a replacement face plate to retrofit the -SE model.
It was this call that lead me to Shuttle Sales Manager, Vance Chang. After patiently listening to my explanation he agreed to sell me a K45B - the business model, with integrated ICE and, blessedly, the plain faceplate. After discussing shipping and sending money internationally, he suggested he bring it to me personally at CeBIT Australia. A deal was struck and I came home last Thursday with my brand new Shuttle K45B.
After a couple of days off to study for an exam, I attacked the shuttle with gusto. In order to make the project more affordable I've decided to do the upgrades piecemeal. The first step is to replace the stock motherboard with my selected mini-ITX board, then upgrade the PSU and so on. The motherboard chosen to replace the stock Shuttle mobo is the Zotac 9300-ITX wifi
, with 4GB of Patriot memory and an E5200 using the stock Intel cooler (for space reasons).
Removing the stock mobo and fitting the new ITX board was a little difficult, but no more so than any of my other SFF builds. Being a Shuttle virgin I was a little disappointed at the flimsiness of the outer shell and the poor (orange-peel effected) paint job, but then the K45 was always meant to be a budget model, wasn't it? I suppose I can always repaint it later! The front faceplate is amazing for something made of plastic and I don't regret for a second the effort it took to get the plain look. Interestingly enough, the front panel connector matches perfectly with the header on the ITX motherboard, something I hadn't considered when planning at all. A quick trip to the store to get a 12V P4 extender and the K45Beastie was up and running memtest, passing with flying colours! I'll take some pictures of it once I get new batteries for my digital camera, and do some quick temperature,performance and and sound testing once I've installed W7 RC.
All in all the only problem I've encountered is that the rear faceplate is about 1mm too high to line up properly with the ports on the LHS (but fine on the right?), and the stock PSU limits the hight of any CPU cooler drastically. Given that I only paid AUD120 for the barebones I am completely happy - a standard mini-ITX case usually runs for at least double that.
Pictures to come, and more modding as the project progresses!