It has been almost a year and a half since we last took a long and hard look at a really small PC from Shuttle, namely the affordable and relatively modest XPC nano NC01U .
This was equipped with an Intel Celeron processor, which was quite fine considering the relatively modest price tag, but the model was unfortunately bothered by some unnecessary fan sauce.
Today, we are taking a descendant: Shuttle XPC nano NC03U3 , equipped with an Intel Core i3 processor. The NC03 model also comes with a less strong Celeron processor, or even more powerful engines in the form of Core i5 or even Core i7.
These are respectively referred to as NC03U, NC03U5 and NC03U7.
However, it is NC03U3 with Core i3 which is our test object, and with a price tag of over four thousand dollars it immediately works like a reasonable PC.
However, Shuttle NC03 models do not come as 100 percent pre-built systems – at least not on land – RAM and some form of storage must be installed as well.
This can in some cases be an advantage. Certain PC manufacturers pay well for this type of component compared to what they really cost in bulk, so this way your PC will be both less expensive and fully customized to your needs.
It goes without saying that this is a PC that can easily be upgraded if you find out later that more RAM or larger storage space is needed.
Clean appearance, the XPC nano NC03U3 is not a complicated thing – you’ll get a black plastic shell with matte surfaces. It gives an untouched style, but is not just boring given the fact that the top cover has a slightly special structure.
All in all, we think it will fit well in most environments.
It also helps the Shuttle XPC nano NC03U3 to be very location-friendly. In addition to offering a fairly modest size physically – the strategic goals are 14.2 x 14.2 x 4.2 centimeters – the product can be placed in a horizontal or vertical position as desired and required. It can also be mounted on the back of a VESA mounting screen.
Inside, we mainly find components of the type that we usually find in laptops and other small computers.
Just XPC nano NC03U3 has a Core i3-7100U processor, with two processor cores and a clock frequency of 2.4GHz. It belongs to the Kaby Lake generation that came on the market about a year ago. The processor has a 15 watt TDP, and integrated graphics in the form of Intel HD Graphics 620.
One of the benefits of Kaby Lake versus previous process generations is hardware-accelerated support for both H.264 and H.265 codecs, so movie playback is no problem with this PC.
As mentioned above, you are free to insert RAM as needed, but it must of course be of the correct type. Here’s the DDR4 of 2133 MHz and SO-DIMM that applies, that is, the same type as in laptops. The Shuttle NC03U series accommodates two memory modules, and takes up to 16 GB in total.
Within storage you have a lot to choose from. The computer has space for a 2.5-inch SSD or hard drive up to 15 millimeters in height, and it is also recommended to use an SSD in M.2 format .
Of SSD pins, you can use the standard size 2280, but it is also recommended that the sizes 2260 and 2242 can be used. In addition, both the PCI and SATA interfaces are supported, so you can pick a good and affordable or expensive and hot model as desired.
The feed is achieved by loosening two screws so that both the bottom and top plates can be removed. Then there will be access from both sides of the motherboard, which makes installation or replacement of RAM and / or disks far easier than the predecessor XPC nano NC01U .
On the one hand, one memory module, the small wireless network card and one large 2.5-inch hard disk drive – 15mm in height means that you can actually insert an HDD with up to 5TB capacity.
However, the wireless network adapter is not of the latest model, with only 802.11n support and no Bluetooth.
By turning the computer, we then come to the second memory module slot, the fan solution to the processor and the space for the M.2 SSD.
Our test was set up with Intel’s 128 GB PCIe SSD and 2 x 4 GB DDR4 memory from Crucial.
Read also: We have collected cheap and flashy game screens
Good performance, low noise volume
How the Shuttle XPC nano NC03U3 stands against other small computers , you can look at the next page , but if you prefer the short version, just continue reading.
The Core i3 processor, as expected, does a decent job. The lack of turbo mode means that your computer does not shred heavier tasks just as well as the ASRock Beebox-S with the Kaby Lake processor Core i5-7200U , but for everyday use or during gaming there will not be any notable differences.
It is also worth remembering that Shuttlen is also bringing in such a Core i5-7200U indoors, without the fact that there are many dog rags in price differences.
In the computer’s BIOS it is possible to choose between different fan profiles. We went for “Smart Fan Mode”, which is also standard and experienced XPC nano NC03U3 as a fairly quiet thing with this enabled.
If you are sitting near the computer, you may want to pick up a weak fan time under heavier loads, but then it must be quite quiet in the room.
There should be no problem using this as a living PC, and if there is a need, there is also an “Ultra-Low Mode” setting. As well as “Full Mode” for those who want the most cooling.
We also did not experience any special heating problems. However, under heavy load, the processor is at a temperature around 70 degrees, but this is of course dependent on the noise profile.
The machine is otherwise delivered with a VESA attachment for mounting on the back of the screen, small rubber bin for plain horizontal positioning and aluminum support for those who want it in a vertical position.
Shuttle is doing the right thing with the XPC nano NC03U3. It’s quite understated, placement-friendly and fairly quiet, so this is a model that can take more jobs. It will do well at the office – unless you do a lot of video editing or other heavy tasks – or as a regular PC at home.
This bag will also fit in well as a dedicated living room or media player. It accommodates a large 2.5-inch hard drive, and while it lacks digital audio output, it’s something you can always use the HDMI port. With the image over the DisplayPort, you also get dull 4K content with 60Hz refresh rate out to your new flat screen.
Some featured computer for gaming we can not say NC03U3 is, but it should be most beautiful after taking a look at it.
It is also worth noting that this PC does not have the newer 802.11ac wireless standard, and Bluetooth is also absent. However, should this be a major issue, it is possible to replace the wireless network adapter.
The biggest problem with the test model is probably the price. It comes without RAM, storage space and operating system, which means you need to quickly calculate a few extra thousand flaps if you do not have suitable components lying in a drawer beforehand.
Then the total amount is over six thousand dollars, and suddenly other small boxes like the Mac mini are looking very tempting. However, the Mac can not brag about delivering 4K in anything more than 30Hz refresh rate, and with a regular turnaround, it will not seem equally responsive.
Therefore, maybe ASRock Beebox-S with Kaby Lake processor may be an even better option. This gives you a similar package, and at a lower price.
The Beebox also has HDMI 2.0, USB 3.1 Gen 2, 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. In addition, it comes with a small remote control, which also counts in favor of XPC nano NC03U3.
But if Shuttle would like to adjust the price slightly on its NC03 models, these models will soon be more attractive again – so it’s a good idea to check the price tags before deciding.