Computer

Shuttle DH02U7

Finding a mini PC that supports up to four displays is hard enough, let alone one that can be VESA-mounted behind one of them. The Shuttle DH02U7 (starts at $ 1,487; $ 1,795 as tested) does both. The DH02U7 is built for professional use, but there’s nothing that says its industrial-grade capacitors and 24/7 operational design would make it a bad home PC. You can buy this model pre-configured and ready to use out of the box, or as a barebones unit to which you add your own components. Thr DH02U7 is a viable choice if quad-monitor support and VESA-mounting options are a priority, but the workstation-grade HP Z2 Mini G4 steals its thunder. Our Editors’ Choice winner in this segment, the Z2 Mini G4 offers a similar feature set and significantly better performance for about the same money.

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You’ve Got That Industrial Look

The TLDR version goes like this: The Shuttle DH02U7 is a small 1.7-by-6.7-by-7.5-inch (HWD) metal box with no styling ambitions. That might be oversimplified, but I think it’s on point. One glance at its straight-lined exterior is sure to give you a gut reaction around whether looks matter to you.

The DH02U7 has its own style, in an industrial sort of way. The lack of flair is a plus if you want to keep things low-key and/or make others think you didn’t spend as much as you did. If you plan to VESA-mount this PC and keep it out of sight, the looks could be a moot point, anyway.

The 4.8-pound DH02U7 is heavier than it looks. The heft is a good thing; the chassis is sturdy and inflexible. The squared-off corners aren’t sharp. The power supply is external, as is typical with most mini-PCs. A 120-watt adapter was included with my Core i7-powered review unit.

The VESA mounting holes are on either side of the chassis. The included VESA bracket supports the 100mm-by-100mm and 75mm-by-75mm standards.

Quad Monitors on a Mini PC

This Shuttle supports quad monitors thanks to its Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 graphics chip. (At the link, just for a rough idea of GTX 1050 performance, is a review of an indicative GTX 1050 card, not the exact compact version employed here.) If it had integrated Intel graphics, as is the norm with mini PCs, only two or three monitors would be supported, and that’s presuming the PC offered that many connectors in the first place. So, four connectors is a treat.

I’d be over the moon if there were some variety among them, but they’re all HDMI. At least one DisplayPort connector would have been welcome, as it would have opened the door for daisy-chaining even more displays. It’s admirable that all of the HDMI ports are full-size, though, so you won’t need to buy special cables or adapters.

It’s especially notable that the HDMI ports are version 2.0. I consider that a requirement for hooking up HDMI-enabled 4K displays, as the version 2.0 ports support 4K out at 60Hz. You wouldn’t want to run a 4K monitor off an HDMI port that isn’t version 2.0 or better, as you’d only get 30Hz (or less) at 4K. If you’re looking at a high-end digital-display solution like this, you want things to look their best. You shouldn’t have to compromise on refresh rate at this system’s price.

The quartet of HDMI video-out connectors resides along the back of the DH02U7, along with an Ethernet jack, two USB Type-A 3.0 ports, the power-adapter jack, and both antennas for the internal Intel 3165AC wireless card. Also, a legacy serial port underscores the professional audience of this PC; plenty of vertical-market devices out there still use the aging standard, and USB-to-serial adapters sometimes just don’t cut it. Not visible in this photo are the two security-cable lockdown notches; the DH02U7 conveniently has one along each side of the back corners. The idea is that if this PC is deployed in a kiosk or other public place for digital display purposes, you’ll want to lock it down.

The front holds separate microphone and headphone jacks, plus four USB Type-A ports, two of which are version 2.0, and the others version 3.0. The power button sits in the middle. A flash-card reader is missing in action, but for most deployments in public spaces, it would be irrelevant, anyway.

Ultrabook-Class Performance

When I wrote this in late September 2018, Shuttle’s online store allowed only the base Celeron 3865U-equipped DH02U model (note the lack of a “7” at the end) to be custom-configured, not the DH02U7 I’m reviewing. I searched online and found the Core i7-7500U-equipped barebones model for $ 1,487 on Amazon. Pricing out the components included with our review unit—Windows 10 Pro ($ 149), 16GB (2x 8GB) of DDR4-2133 laptop-style memory ($ 125), and a 2.5-inch 120GB Western Digital Green SSD ($ 33)—my unit comes to a street price of $ 1,795.

That’s going to sound like an awful lot of money if you’re coming from the traditional desktop world. The Core i7-7500U dual-core processor provides the level of performance you’d get in a thin-and-light notebook, not a desktop. The quad-core processors typically found in mid-tower desktops half the price of my DH02U7 would run rings around it in benchmark tests. Then again, the DH02U7 is a fraction of the size of a mid-tower, so perhaps that’s a fair trade-off.

The Core i7-7500U processor has plentiful pep for most usage. However, it’s not well-suited to CPU-intensive tasks running over a long period of time. Office productivity, web browsing, and 1080p video streaming across multiple displays are its strong suits. The 16GB of dual-channel memory in my review unit provided plenty of multitasking headroom.

Mini-PCs sporting dedicated GPUs tend to be few and far between. A business-class competitor to the DH02U7 is the HP Z2 Mini G4 workstation mentioned earlier, which I mock-configured on HP’s website for $ 2,000, comparably equipped. On the consumer side of the equation, however, I found the barebones model of the Zotac ZBox Magnus EN51050 was just $ 669. It includes Nvidia GTX 1050 graphics, albeit a 2GB version. (The Shuttle I’m reviewing has the 4GB card.) Toss in the components I mentioned above, and it’s still under a grand. But the Zotac isn’t VESA-mountable like the Shuttle and HP units, which is potentially a major turn-off, nor does it have a professional feature set.

Easy Disassembly

The top cover of the DH02U7 slides off after removing the two screws holding it on. Cabling is kept to a minimum in its surprisingly roomy interior. The 2.5-inch drive bay comes out after removing the chassis cross-brace, under which you’ll find the wireless card and an M.2 Type-2280 (80mm) slot for an SSD. (The M.2 slot was empty in my unit; see our picks for the best M.2 SSDs.) Two storage drives are what we expect in a PC this size.

The two 260-pin SO-DIMM slots for laptop-style DDR4-2133 memory are also under the 2.5-inch bay, occupied in my unit by a 16GB (two 8GB-DIMM) dual-channel setup.

Taking It to the Bench…

Although it’s a fine performer for everyday usage, the Core i7-7500U dual-core processor in the DH02U7 held it back in most of our tests. As I noted, this PC isn’t designed for heavy workloads. The Western Digital Green SSD in our unit is also entry-level, but it’s still much faster than a traditional hard drive.

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The 3,360-point showing from the DH02U7 in our PCMark 8 Work Conventional benchmark indicates it’s ideally suited for everyday productivity usage. The tiny Intel NUC Kit NUC8i7HVK led the pack, thanks its fast Intel core i7 quad-core processor and top-of-the-line storage.

Shuttle DH02U7 CPU chart

The performance disparity between the DH02U7 and the other units is pronounced in the CPU-limited Cinebench and Handbrake tests. As I said, its Core i7-7500U is a good choice for most usage, but there’s no substitute for more cores when heavy lifting is required. The hexa-core Xeon processor in the HP Z2 Mini G4 workstation is light years ahead.

Shuttle DH02U7 gaming chart

The GeForce GTX 1050 in the DH02U7 comes to its rescue in the 3D-related benchmarks. It’s slightly stronger than the Quadro P1000 in the HP Z2 Mini G4, and expectedly matches the GTX 1050 in the Zotac ZBox Magnus EN51050. The DH02U7’s 2,549-point showing in 3DMark Fire Strike Extreme suggests it can handle some newer game titles. The MSI Vortex G25VR and the Zotac ZBox Magnus EK71080 are far better-suited for fragging.

Cooling Performance

Two small fans inside the chassis are responsible for keeping the DH02U7 cool. The fan closest to the front is for the Intel CPU, and the rear fan is for the Nvidia GPU. Holes around the fans in the top of the chassis are the primary air intakes. Meanwhile, exhaust is pushed out grates running along either side of the chassis.

I found the metal chassis also acted as heatsink when I started running benchmarks. This PC gets hot to the touch under full load, and it’s not quiet. The tiny fans must spin fast to move enough air.

There’s a distinctive high-pitched motor sound at their top speed, audible across a living room and likely loud enough to be heard over a quiet movie. It’s a good thing they were spinning fast, however; I observed the core temperature of the GTX 1050 level off in the upper 80s (that’s degrees Celsius). That’s too close to the card’s thermal limit for my preferences, but it never did exceed that range.

A Hefty Premium for Flexible Digital Signage

A mini PC that supports quad displays and VESA-mounting options is rare, but you’ll find them both in the Shuttle DH02U7. It blends a rugged industrial design, niche professional features like a serial port, and simple end-user serviceability into a tiny package that you can hide behind a monitor. It might not be a whole lot to look at, but again, hiding it is the whole point.

The DH02U7’s competition, however scarce in number, is fierce. The HP Z2 Mini G4’s available hexa-core processors run rings around the dual-core chips in the DH02U7, even the top-tier Core i7-7500U in our test unit. The HP also supports VESA-mounting options, can be configured with a serial port, and can connect even more displays (up to six) by daisy-chaining off its DisplayPort connectors. The $ 1,795 street price of our DH02U7 didn’t help its cause, as the HP can be had for about that much.

Overall, we like the potential in the Shuttle DH02U7, but it needs a quieter cooling system and a price cut to make a viable alternative as a performance PC to the HP Z2 Mini G4, which remains our top pick and Editors’ Choice in the professionally geared mini-PC segment. If you’re looking for simpler and cheaper digital signage, you’ll want to investigate some of the other models from Intel and Zotac mentioned earlier.

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