I would like to tell you what a joy both have been since purchase, but I’ve only had the i5 in the house for about 3 days all up and the i7 keeps crashing on me as I write this, so I can’t really. In fact, the i5 has spent all but 6 days since purchase back at the place I bought it from, because it malfunctions so spectacularly.
Temperatures are good (coretemp shows 32°C idle, going up to about 62°C when under full load from Prime 95). Memory passed 24 hours of Memtest+ runs. The hard disk passed its Seatools tests with flying colours, too. Nevertheless, three days after it was first installed with Windows 7 x64, the thing suddenly decided to reboot. Fair enough, I suppose: it’s Windows, after all. Only you don’t generally expect the hard disk to go missing from the list of devices displayed by the BIOS, and for the machine to boot up to a ‘no boot device found’ message, I think!
Switch it off, wait ten minutes, switch it back on… BIOS suddenly re-discovers the hard disk and Windows boots normally. Two days later, however, the same thing: a reboot that causes the drive to disappear from BIOS. A simple switch off and on doesn’t allow the disk to be re-recognised, but a switch off-wait-20-minutes-switch on does.
After a fresh Windows install, same thing happened 11 hours later. At which point, it got taken to my offices (nearer the supplier). I spent a day re-installing Windows a third time… and waited and waited and thought, ‘Bummer, must be something about my power supply at home’ when Bingo! Three and half-days later, the thing Blue Screened with an error about iastor.sys. No reboots this time, and no missing disks from BIOS, but regular blue screens with assorted stop messages indicating various types of hardware failure or driver error. Back to the shop it went.
Meanwhile, I congratulated myself that the i7 shuttle had behaved itself perfectly. Maybe because it used a Western Digital disk whereas the i5 had used a Seagate one? Who knows… at least mine was stable!
Until 8 days after it was first installed, when it simply decided to switch itself off. No error messages in the Windows event viewer; no warnings; nothing really… just one minute it’s all fine, the next the power dies and the thing no longer functions. At least I could switch it straight back on: the BIOS wasn’t forgetting about the existence of a hard disk, so Windows came back without drama. But then it happened again. And again. And again. So I wiped Windows and put Fedora 15 on. And then it happened again. Four times, actually.
The supplier, happily, has now been able to see the first Shuttle crash and blue screen (but it took five and half days to happen, and he was about to give up!), so at least he now knows I’m not making any of this up. Having originally suggested he thought it might have something to do with SATA power management, he now says he thinks it’s something to do with the RAM and that “Memory incompatibility is just normal, some memory just does not work with some systems”. So who knows?
I’ve meanwhile found a thread in which someone describes my symptoms almost exactly, and for which suggested solutions range from (a) buy a new power supply; (b) increase voltage on the RAM and © downgrade your BIOS because the latest one from Shuttle is buggy and can’t do Intel turbo mode properly.
Can I suggest an option (d) there? Don’t buy a Shuttle in the first place??!
If the thing had worked as advertised on the tin, I probably wouldn’t suggest that; but to buy two of them, neither of which can stay stable for longer than about 4 days, means I now have zero confidence in the product. Minor issues, like their noise levels (it’s not high as such, but you tend to place them up on a desk, so that their fans are much more at ear-level than a normal mid-tower would be. So they sound quite loud) wouldn’t have bothered me in themselves. Now, they just combine with their jelly-like instability to annoy the heck out of me.
If I could get a refund, I would (but the supplier seems to think it’s OK for him to fiddle with them long enough by way of a ‘repair’). I’m not sure at what point I just let loose the lawyers and point out that he’s sold me a defective product that’s not fit for purpose. I’ll give him another fortnight, I guess (and that’s just to sort out the i5… I have to go through the whole thing again with the i7 as a separate exercise afterwards!)
I will say in passing that the supplier has been helpful and honest throughout, and the build quality of what they shipped me was superb (as it always is with them). It’s just unlucky that they happened, through no real fault of their own, to sell me a steaming pile of poo instead of a functioning computer. Twice.
Caveat emptor, I suppose. Or, in plain English: don’t buy a Shuttle, if you know what’s good for you.