Shuttle's SS51G Mini Barebones System - HotHardware

Shuttle's SS51G Mini Barebones System

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Shuttle's SS51G XPC Mini Barebones System
The Baddest Mini of Them All!

By, Jeff Bouton
August 18, 2002

 

Ever since we saw the first mini PCs from Shuttle back in December, we've been impressed with the XPC Mini PCs themselves, as well as how quickly new models have become available.  Starting with the release of the SV24, the first of the mini PCs, we've seen Shuttle maintain a rigorous timeline, releasing new and improved models in rapid succession.  Yet with this aggressive timeline, we've seen no signs that Shuttle was cutting corners.  In fact, we have quite the opposite impression.  Instead, we've seen Shuttle add new features as well as make design improvements that clearly show they've been listening to the feedback of both reviewers and users alike.  What is even more impressive is that they have developed an entirely new product line without experiencing any major issues or design flaws.  This is a testament to their rock solid development plans that pay special attention to quality.

So what have reviewers and users been saying anyway?  From what we've seen, there have been a number important concerns.  What we think were the three most common issues of previous XPCs were; a lack of an AGP slot, noisy system fans, and support for the latest available technology.  After roughly seven months, Shuttle has released a system that has taken into account all of these wishes and the end result is the Shuttle SS51G XPC Mini Barebones System.  This is the first of the XPC mini PC product line that has an AGP slot, native USB 2.0 support, ATA133 compliance and support for PC2700 DDR RAM.  This is by far Shuttle's most impressive endeavor, designing a mini PC that has the performance to rival some high-performance full-size systems.

Let's take a look at what the Shuttle SS51G XPC has to offer.

Specifications / Features of the Shuttle SS51G XPC Mini Barebones System
The Baddest of Them All!
 
Chipset
North Bridge SiS651
south Bridge Sis962L
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

Form Factor
Flex ATX

Memory
2 x 184pin DDR DIMM
Support DDR200/266/333 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 Singel Floppy + Single HD)

Onboard Graphic
Integrated SiS651 VGA
VGA Memory cache up to 64MB
VGA driver

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 SiS 962 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



Like many of the mini PCs that preceded it, the SS51G comes complete with an excellent complement of additional items.  Shuttle has put together a package that was well thought out.  The package comes with enough data cables to connect a Floppy, CD-ROM and hard drive.  A small bag is provided that contains a packet of thermal grease, as well as several zip tip ties and double-sided sticky tape for tidying up any loose wires after all of the hardware is installed.  Shuttle also includes two "Friendly Front Feet" that match the unit's silver finish, giving the SS51G an upward tilt.  Lastly, we were surprised to see an AGP adapter that provides DVI connections for Flat panel displays, Digital Out and RCA output.  Although not a full-fledged video card, the adapter was designed for taking full advantage of the system's onboard video capabilities.
 

 

The BIOS & Setup
Looking Good!

The BIOS of the SS51G is derived from the all to popular Award BIOS found in most motherboards on the market today.  When we first took a look at the BIOS of the SS40G in our last XPC review, we found it to be rather ordinary with little useful extras.  With the SS51G's BIOS, however, the BIOS had a bit more to offer than its Socket A counterpart.  We were particularly happy to see a more robust Frequency/Voltage Control screen that offered a decent selection of options for maximizing system performance.  The CPU:DRAM Ratio offered three settings for balancing CPU/DRAM performance; 1:1, 3:4 and 3:5 with a FSB range of 100-132MHz.  With a Pentium 4 Northwood B installed, the FSB range changes to 133-162MHz., the ratio settings run at intervals of 1:1, 4:3 and 4:5. 

The Advanced DRAM screen didn't offer us a lot of memory options to play with, although the screen was fairly useful in tweaking memory performance.  The memory timing could be adjusted through the System Performance setting, giving a total of 5 modes; Safe, Normal, Fast, Turbo and Ultra.  The CAS Latency could be set from 2T, 2.5T and 3T and the Command rate varied between 1T and 2T.  There were no advanced voltage settings for fine tuning memory or CPU performance, especially useful when attempting to overclock a system.  Nonetheless, the system did offer the ability to increase the bus speed beyond spec.  With the SS51G we were able to set the bus anywhere from 100Mhz. to 165MHz.  A little later we'll put these options to the test and see if we missed the ability to tweak the system voltages.

The PC Health Status screen has undergone a few changes of its own with added features not previously seen in the XPCs.  As you will read about later, Shuttle has implemented a few changes to help quiet the system.  One way of achieving this was by throttling the FAN speed based on system temperatures.  The user can select any one of the three available fan headers on the motherboard and configure it to increase fan speed based on the temperature they set in the "Fan Speed Up" field.  As you will see, this helped Shuttle tackle the noise issue efficiently in conjunction with a few other changes we'll discuss in the next section.

 

Setup and Initial Benchmarking

 

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