Exterior Design (Cont): Cables & Caveats
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First we've got the SHIFT up close and personal, with the top grate removed. Whether you leave the grate on or off is up to you—putting it on changes the SHIFT's tone slightly when the fans are running, leaving it off gives you immediate access to the top area. The grate screws down at the back (to the left and right of the wires you can see in the other two thumbscrews. This is more to keep it secure during shipping than anything else; removing the top panel, even without the screws installed, requires that you lift the panel and pull towards the rear of the case simultaneously. There's no need to worry about it falling off randomly, and it doesn't vibrate even when the system fans are running at full.
The other two thumbnails give you an idea how the SHIFT looks with cables installed. MainGear built a duct at the rear that can accommodate almost any cable; these photos were taken with a wired keyboard, mouse, DVI cable, and ethernet cable all installed—as you can see, there's plenty of horizontal room for anything else that might need plugged in.
The vertical clearance for cables when the grate is installed is almost perfect. We had no problem with most cables; any cords you own that conform to what we'll call a 'typical' design will fit underneath the grate. This includes (but isn't limited to) FireWire (all types), USB (all types), DVI, VGA, DisplayPort, wireless keyboard/mouse transmitters, thumb drives, Bluetooth adapters, and wireless USB devices.
Of the two cables here, the left-hand single-link cable fits with no problem. The right-hand cable is too stiff to bend sufficiently.
There are, however, some notable caveats. We were able to round up a handful of cables/devices that didn't fit under the SHIFT's grate, including:
- Nylon-covered/less-flexible DVI cables: We happened to have two different styles of DVI cable around when we hooked the SHIFT up for testing. The cable to the right (dual-link, nylon-covered cable) is much less flexible than the single-link cable next to it. The cable on the left fit without a problem—the cable on the right fit insomuch as the DVI plug was concerned, but couldn't bend sharply enough within the limited space.
- Certain thumb drives: Thumb drives are another type of device that certainly should fit, but in some cases might not. Thumb drives that look like thumb drives (short, rectangular, plain) are no problem. Flash drives that are ruggedized, waterproofed, or contain six company logos, a short message from the CEO, and can transmit status updates to Twitter and Facebook could be. An OCZ ATV thumb drive we had handy (82mm long according to its spec sheet) fit just fine, but larger, high-capacity drives could bump up against the top.
- Standard Video Adapters/Converters: Normal video converters—VGA-to-DVI, DVI-to-HDMI, USB3-to-llama—simply don't fit. If you need to use one or more of these you'll need a short-style adapter. These typically aren't hard to find but can cost a few bucks more than their full-sized cousins.