Our Summary and Conclusion
Performance Summary: The Shuttle SDXi Barebones kit delivered roughly the same level of performance as a similarly equipped test bed with a full-sized ATX motherboard. In the synthetic, productivity, rendering, encoding and low resolution gaming tests, the Shuttle SDXi Barebones Kit virtually matched an Asus P5W DH Deluxe motherboard step for step; although overall the SDXi did technically trail the P5W in a majority of tests.
Another area of performance we haven't touched on yet was the system's noise levels. During our testing we have to say, we found this system to be a bit loud for our tastes. While the MTEC water cooling setup allows for two PCI Express graphics cards to fit next to each other in a small space, it does not help this system run any quieter. In fact, it seems a bit louder than other units we’ve recently tested, which is not something we were expecting.
As we reflect on our experience with Shuttle's SDXi Barebones kit, there are a number of factors to consider. First, when it comes to features, appearance and performance, the SDXi Barebones Kit is undeniably impressive. This unit sports an ample array of features, delivers competitive performance and looks great doing it. We think using a liquid cooling kit to help accommodate two PCI Express graphics cards in a small form factor design is a great idea, but there are other factors that work against the SDXi Barebones kit.
Two of the biggest issues we have at this time are the availability of information on this product as well as the availability of the product itself. We've had this unit in our labs for quite some time now. Still, with all the time that has passed, this exact item is not listed on the Shuttle website. And the 1337 series, which is a complete system based on this chassis, has been stuck in back-order for quite a while. The SDXi, with its custom paint-job and $999 price-tag (which includes painted case, liquid cooling system, and painted keyboard and mouse) is obviously a boutique-type product not meant for wide distribution. But seeing as how it is based on the recently discontinued SD37P2 V2 XPC and differs only by the custom paint job and water cooling kit, we assume availability will remain extremely limited until a newer model is eventually released that replaces it.
Based on our hands on experience, we were generally impressed with the hardware at the heart of the Shuttle SDXi Barebones kit. But for potential consumers, getting your hands on one will likely be the biggest obstacle even if you can justify the exorbitant asking price.