Retro Relook – Old SFF PCs

News for the SFF crowd is light right now, so let’s take a walk back in time to the old days of SFF. The really old days. I’m talking about when the term shoebox PC was the word of the day, and good cable management was just getting all the ketchup and mustard to fit. The days of custom mainboards with cooling systems designed by Frankenstein, and when all SFF PCs needed to squeeze in an optical drive.


Let’s start with LGR with a look back at a small form factor 486 PC.


Truly a sight to behold. But PCs quickly grew after that. Remember that the 486 and Pentium brought forth the days of towers that rose from the floor to above your CRT holding desk, and weighed so much they had wheels. However, a few OEMs tried to do some unique designs like Compaq with the 4540.


Ok…the Compaq looks big but trust me, it’s small for the time. I both own one now as a retro rig, and actively dissuaded people from buying them when I was kid working at CompUSA. Truth be told, the biggest issue was that it lacked an AGP slot. And had a custom power supply. And had a custom mainboard. And had….well never mind. The front looks cool and for the time it was small for its time.

It was Shuttle that really started to push SFF into the spotlight. With their custom boards that were DTX (but not really), and often unique power supplies and fans, they became a favorite for people who weren’t buying Lian Li PC-60 or Coolermaster Wavemaster cases.



Even NCIX was getting into Shuttle PCs. Check out Linus before he was famous…



Shuttle may have caught the attention of a lot of builders between 2000 and 2010, but it was Silverstone that made a huge breakthrough to the community with their cases. Some are still available today. Check out this guy…Paul something…showing of the Silverstone SG05 back in 2012.



Well let’s rap this up by going back to one of the earliest reviews of the now legendary, NCASE M1.