Shuttle's SB51G XPC - HotHardware

Shuttle's SB51G XPC

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Shuttle's SB51G XPC Mini Barebones
The i845GE Based Mini-PC That Feels Full Sized

By Dave Altavilla
11/20/2002

Alright, it's quiz time (and you thought you were getting off easy!).  What is perhaps the prominent technological advancement in Personal Computing, beyond high clock speeds with more processing power?  Come on now... use your noggin.  Well, for the detectives in our midst, we're sure you're thinking along the lines of the Shuttle product we're taking a look at today.  If you guessed the word "integration", you win the prize!  If there is one leading indicator of next generation technology for electronics and semiconductors, it's feature size.  As things are getting faster, they are also getting smaller and with that comes the ability to pack more features in a square millimeter of PCB real estate.

Shuttle has certainly been making a name for themselves with their new line of mini PCs or "XPCs", as they would call them.  What is more impressive about the recent round of XPCs from Shuttle, are the new capabilities they are now integrating, which allow them to deliver performance and features on par with a full sized unit.  In Jeff's recent review of the Shuttle SS51G, we saw the advent of the AGP slot in these units, a critical component for the graphics subsystem in these designs.  Let's face it, integrated graphics or PCI slots, just weren't cutting it.

Now, in addition to the AGP slot, which opens a whole new world of 3D horsepower, Shuttle is incorporating the latest Pentium 4 chipset for DDR SDRAM, the i845GE.  The "GE" variant of the i845 has integrated graphics from Intel, but also supports Hyperthreading technology for the recently released Pentium 3GHz processor.  Now, perhaps it would make sense to throw a 3GHz chip in a mini PC like this.  However, as we've learned recently, Intel is going to drive Hyperthreading across its entire product line eventually.  So, more importantly, users will have that migration path to HT enabled CPUs moving forward, with the i845GE chipset that Shuttle chose for the SB51G XPC.  Let's take a look at the rest of the unit, in more detail.

Specifications / Features of the Shuttle SB51G XPC Mini Barebones System
Intel through and through
 

Chipset
North Bridge Intel i845GE
South Bridge Intel ICH4
Chipset Detail Spec

CPU
Socket 478
Intel Pentium 4/Celeron
478 pin package with 400/533MHz Data Bus Speed
Soft configuration FSB from 100Mhz to 166MHz
Intel "Hyperthreading" capable

Form Factor
Flex ATX

Memory
2 x 184pin DDR DIMM
Support DDR200/266 un-buffer DDR SDRAM
up to 2GB capacity

Expansion Capability
AGP Slot X 1 Supports 2X / 4X AGP Device
PCI Slot x 1
USB port x 4
IEEE1394 x 3
5.25? Reserved Bay x 1
3.5? Reserved Bay x 2
(Two HDs or Single Floppy + Single HD)

Onboard Graphic
Integrated Intel 256-bit 3D engine  
  
VGA Memory cache up to 64MB

Audio
Realtek ALC 650
AC '97 v2.2 (supports 5.1 channel) compliant CODEC on board
Support Digital SPDIF In/Out
Audio Driver

Onboard LAN
Realtek RTL8139 Family PCI/Cardbus Fast Ethernet
10/100Mb Fast Ethernet LAN
Support Wake on LAN, Boot to LAN, PXE 2.0
LAN driver

USB 2.0
Integrated Intel USB 2.0

Onboard 1394
VIA VT6306
Complies with 1394 OHCI specification revision 1.0
Support 400Mb/s, 200Mb/s, 100Mb/s data transfer rate

IDE interface
2 x UltraDMA/100 IDE Channels Master from SiS962
80-pin Cable Backward Compatible Legacy ATAPI Devices
ATAPI IDE CD-ROM, CD-R, CD-RW, and LS-120 Supports

Case
Aluminum chassis 200(w) x 181(h) x 280(d)mm
Power supply 200Watts 110 / 230V
1 x 3.5? bay
1 x 5.25? bay
1 x 3.5" bay (Hidden)

Front Panel
2 x USB ports
1 x 1394 ports
1 x 1 x 5.25" bay
1 x 3.5" bay (Hidden)
SPDIF Out
1 x Mic-In
1 x Speaker-Out
Power-On
Reset

Back Panel Ports and Connectors
Power code/AC
1 x PCI slot
1 x AGP slot
1 x PS/2 Keyboard
1 x PS/2 Mouse
1 x VGA port
2 x Serial Port
2 x 1394 ports
1 x SPDIF In
2 x USB ports
1 x RJ45 port
1 x Front out connector
1 x Rear out connector
1 x Center/Bass connector

Accessory:
Mainboard User manual
Mainboard CD-Driver
XPC Installation Guide
I.C.E Technology CPU heat-pipe
Cables:
FDD Cable
HDD Cable
CD-ROM Cable
Power cord
Screws
Twin Adhesive
Friendly Front Feet



   

   

The SB51G is very much like its cousin we showcased here not long ago, the SS51G.  The only real difference here would be that this time, Shuttle was working with the i845GE chipset, versus the SiS651 that was used in the SS51G XPC.  Other than that, the feature list is nearly identical.  Integrated Firewire, the same Realtek chipset for Ethernet and 5.1 channel sound, USB 2.0, it's all in there.  Again, what is perhaps the most impressive aspect of these little PCs from Shuttle, is how much functionality and connectivity they pack into such a small foot print.  Take a look at the connection diagram on the box shot (right side snapshot above) that we took.  As you can see, this little computer does everything a full sized PC can perform, with all the latest technologies, save perhaps the yet to be fully exploited AGP8X interface.  However, with the introduction of Intel's Granite Bay chipset, it may be that we'll be looking at an AGP8X implementation, along with Dual Channel DDR, sooner than you think!  

 

Setup and Initial Benchmarking

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