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Shuttle SB65G2 & SN85G4 XPCs
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Date: Nov 13, 2003
Section:Systems
Author: HH Editor
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The Shuttle SB65G2 & SN85G4 XPCs - Page 1

The Shuttle SB65G2 & SN85G4 XPCs
They Just Keep Getting Better...

By, Marco Chiappetta
November 13, 2003
 

It has been almost two full years since we first got our hands on one of Shuttle's original small form factor systems, the SV24.  The first few products in their mini-barebones lineup, as it was then known, generated quite a bit of excitement within the hardware community, but we all universally clamored for two things, an AGP slot and easier access to the CPU and drive connectors, etc.  Shuttle not only listened to the community, but in the process of expanding and improving their mini-barebones product line, they added more and more useful features.  As their mini-barebones products morphed into the XPC systems available today, they became more powerful and accessing the system's internals became much easier, courtesy of Shuttle's custom cooling solutions and improved layouts.

Today on HotHardware, we're going to take a look at two recently released XPCs, the Pentium 4 powered SB65G2 and the Athlon 64 powered SN85G4.  Shuttle has taken a slightly different approach with these two machines, by eliminating any on-board video and introducing some new features, like wireless Ethernet on the SB65G2 and a 6-in-1card reader on the SN85G4.  We've equipped these two mini-powerhouses with identical hardware and took them for a spin around the H.H. labs.  Continue reading and see if the Shuttle SB65G2 and SN85G4 are worthy additions to the Shuttle XPC family...

Specifications & Features of the SB65G2 & SN85G4 XPCs
Small Form Factor Goodness X 2

CLICK ANY IMAGE FOR AN ENLARGED VIEW

SPECIFICATIONS TAKEN DIRECTLY FROM SPACEWALKER.COM

SB65G2 Specifications

Processor

  • Intel Pentium 4/Celeron in the 478 pin package with 400/533/800MHz FSB

Chipsets

  • Intel 865PE/ICH5

Memory

  • Two x 184 pin DDR 266/333/400 Dual Channel DDR DIMM slots up to 2GB

On board header

  • 2 x UDMA100 IDE Ports

  • 1 x FDD Port

  • CD_In headers

  • 20 Pin ATX and 4 Pin ATX 12V power connectors
  • 3 Fan connectors

IEEE 1394a

  • VIA VT6307, complies with 1394 OHCI specification revision 1.0, up to 400Mb/s data transfer rate

Audio

  • On board Realtek ALC650 six channel audio

Fast Ethernet

  • On board Realtek 8100B supports 10 Mb/s and 100 Mb/s LAN operation

Extension Bay

  • 2 x 3.5" bays
  • 1 x 5.25" bay

Dimension

  • 300(L)x200(W)x185(H)mm, 2.85Kg (N.W.), 4.65Kg (G.W.)
  • Material - Aluminum

Power

  • Dimension: 82(W) x 43(H) x 190(D) mm (Max)
  • Input: 110 / 230V AC
  • Output: 220W(PFC)
  • EMI Certified: FCC, CE, BSMI
  • Safety Certified: UL, TUV, CB

SN85G4 Specifications

Processor

  • Support AMD Athlon64 CPU with 1600MHz HyperTransport? technology

Chipsets

  • NVIDIA nForce3 150
  • Support AMD Athlon64 , HyperTransport? bus
  • Built in EHCI USB 2.0 controller

Memory

  • 2 x 184 pin DDR SDRAM DIMM Slots
  • Support PC1600/2100/2700/3200 compliant unbuffered DDR SDRAM up to 2GB capacity

IEEE 1394a

  • VIA VT6307, complies with 2 IEEE1394a OHCI specification revision 1.0, up to 400Mb/s data transfer rate

Audio

  • On board Realtek ALC650 six channel audio

Fast Ethernet

  • NVIDIA MAC with Realtek 8201BL supports 10 Mb/s and 100 Mb/s LAN operation

On board connector and header

  • 2 x UDMA100/133 IDE Ports
  • 2 x 150MB/s S-ATA Ports
  • 1 x FDD Port
  • CD_In , mini CD_In and Aux_In headers
  • 20 Pin ATX and 4 Pin ATX 12V power connectors
  • 3 Fan connectors

Extension Bay

  • 1 x 3.5" bay (internal)
  • 1 x 5.25" bay

Dimension

  • 295(L)x200(W)x180(H)mm, 2.85Kg (N.W.), 4.65Kg (G.W.)
  • Material - Aluminum

Power

  • Dimension: 65(W) x 43(H) x 190(D) mm (Max)
  • Input: 110 / 230V AC
  • Output: 240W(PFC)
  • EMI Certified: FCC, CE, BSMI
  • Safety Certified: UL, TUV, CB

The Bundles:


ACCESSORIES INCLUDED WITH THE SHUTTLE SB65G2

 


ACCESSORIES INCLUDED WITH THE SHUTTLE SN85G4

The SB65G2 and SN85G4 both shipped with very similar accessory bundles.  The SN85G4 came with a User's Manual for the FN85 motherboard used in the system and an installation guide that explained how to properly build-up the machine. Four cables were also included - one SATA cable, two custom 80-Wire IDE cables and a single floppy cable.  We also found the obligatory driver CD, as well as two small baggies containing some double-sided adhesive, screws, wire ties and two metal feet used to elevate the front of the system slightly.  Both of these XPCs also came with custom I.C.E Technology CPU heat-pipes, but they weren't exactly the same.  The heat-pipe included with the SB65G2 has a copper insert, while the SN85G4's heat-pipe is made completely of aluminum with a highly polished base.  The clip used to hold each heat-pipe in place, however, was identical.

With the SB86G2, because the system is equipped with Shuttle's FB65 motherboard, the user's manual is different.  The SB65G2 also has an integrated 802.11b wireless Ethernet controller, so an extra manual, driver CD and antenna were included as well.
 




A Closer Look at the SB65G2

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The Shuttle SB65G2 & SN85G4 XPCs - Page 2

The Shuttle SB65G2 & SN85G4 XPCs
They Just Keep Getting Better...

By, Marco Chiappetta
November 13, 2003
 

Assembling the Shuttle SB65G2 was very simple and straight forward.  Getting one of these barebones machines up and running is as easy as inserting your RAM, CPU and video card, and mounting the drives in the removable drive tray.  Then route a few power and drive cables and your done.  We had absolutely no trouble getting the SB65G2 built and powered up in under an hour.  We're sure some of you seasoned HotHardware veterans could do it even faster!

Setup & Quality
Small?  You Betcha!

The SB65G2, as the name implies, is based on Shuttle's all-aluminum G2 enclosure that was first introduced with the SN41G2.  As you'll see a little later, the G2 case seems a bit drab, at least in our opinion, when compared to the style of the new G4, but it is still sleek and very functional.  The sides of the case are perforated with holes designed to draw cool air into the chassis, which is then drawn over the heat-pipe and through the 220 Watt PSU, and is finally expelled out of the rear of the case.  The cooling system seemed very effective, as it kept our 3.2GHz Pentium 4 hovering around 40°C at idle.

Front Panel
  • 2 x USB ports
  • 1 x mini1394 port
  • 1 x Line-In
  • 1 x Mic-In
  • 1 x Headphone out
  • 1 x Power-On button
  • 1 x Reset button
Back panel
  • 4 USB2.0 Ports
  • 1 PS/2 Keyboard Port
  • 1 PS/2 Mouse Port
  • 1 IEEE1394 connector
  • 1 Rear out
  • 1 x Front out
  • 1 x Center/Bass Out
  • 1 RJ45 LAN Port
  • 1 Serial Port
  • 1 PCI slot
  • 1 AGP 8X/4X slot

The Shuttle SB65G2 is laden with connectors, on both the front and rear of the system.  Situated on the front fascia are two USB 2.0 ports, a single mini-1394 port, three 1/8" audio connectors (Line In, Microphone In and Headphone Out) and the power and reset switches.  The rear of the system is adorned with three more 1/8" audio connectors (Front, Rear and Center / Bass Out), S/PDIF in and out, four more USB 2.0 ports, a powered IEE1394 connector, a serial port, PS/2 keyboard and mouse ports, an RJ45 LAN port and lastly an antenna mount for the built-in 802.11b wireless Ethernet controller.  As you can see, the externally available connectors leave little to be desired...

The system's internals could use a little work, however.  For the most part, the layout of Shuttle's FB65 motherboard is good, but there are a few things that could have been done better.  We're not big fans of vertically mounted CMOS batteries because the clips are notoriously easy to bend and break off.  We realize board real-estate is limited, but Shuttle could have easily mounted the CMOS battery flush with the board.  Secondly, we're also a bit disappointed that nothing has been done to clean up the thick, white cables used to connect the various headers to the front and rear mounted ports.  These cables contribute greatly to the overall cluttered look of the system's internals and impede on both slots.  We hope Shuttle (and virtually every other SFF system builder for that matter) move the headers to the edge of the motherboard and route the cables underneath.  Doing so would clean up the inside of the system considerably, and would improve airflow to boot.  The rest of the components are well laid out and easily accessible, especially considering the diminutive size of the SB65G2.  The RAM and CPU were easy to install and remove, and all of the included cables are just the right size.

The BIOS
As Complete As They Get

Shuttle has equipped the SB65G2 with a very complete Phoenix / Award BIOS, that should please even the most discriminating power users.  Some SFF systems have traditionally shipped with somewhat limited BIOSes, but not the SB65G2.  The BIOS on this system has a full compliment of options for tweaking the RAM and all of the on-board peripherals.  The system's fan speeds can also be altered for maximum airflow, or minimum noise.  Fans can even be set to spin-up or down at a specified temperature.

In the six screen shots above, you'll find all of the overclocking options available within the SB65G2's BIOS.  The Front Side Bus (FSB) can be set to any frequency between 100MHz and 355MHz, in 1MHz increments.  The AGP, PCI and SATA clock speeds can run asynchronously with the FSB and can be locked at specified frequencies to prevent running drives and video cards too far out of spec.  CPU, AGP and DDR voltages can also be altered.  The CPU voltage can be set as high as 1.85v in .025v increments.  The AGP voltage options range from 1.55v to 1.65v in .05v increments and the available DDR voltages range from 2.65v to 2.75v, in .05v increments.  With the ability to also set memory timings manually, the SB65G2's BIOS gives overclockers all of the tools they need to push their CPU well beyond its rated speed.

Overclocking Experience:

              
SANDRA CPU BENCHMARK                SANDRA CPU BENCHMARK
CPU @ 3.20GHZ                                    CPU @ 3.68GHZ

We set out to see just how high we could push our 3.2GHz Pentium with the SB65G2.  With a modest bump in core voltage up to 1.7v, we slowly raised the FSB until the system was no longer stable.  In the end, we were able to push our particular CPU all the way to 3.68GHz (16 x 230MHz).  Even at this high speed, Shuttle's custom I.C.E heat-pipe CPU cooling system kept the processor relatively cool (hovering around 55°C - 60°C).

Up Close & Personal with the SN85G4

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The Shuttle SB65G2 & SN85G4 XPCs - Page 3

The Shuttle SB65G2 & SN85G4 XPCs
They Just Keep Getting Better...

By, Marco Chiappetta
November 13, 2003
 

HOW WE CONFIGURED THE TEST SYSTEM:

We configured both of these Shuttle XPCs as similarly as possible.  The video cards, memory, hard drives, driver versions (where applicable) and OS configurations were identical.  Before we started benchmarking these machines, we entered their system BIOSes and set each board to their "Optimized Defaults"We then configured the RAM to run at 200MHz (DDR400), with the timings set by the SPD.  The hard drives were then formatted, and Windows XP Professional (SP1) was installed.  When the installation was complete, we hit the Windows Update site and downloaded all of the available updates, with the exceptions of the ones related to Windows Messenger and Media Player 9.  Then we installed all of the necessary drivers, and removed Windows Messenger from the system altogether.  Auto-Updating and System Restore were disabled as well, and we set a 768MB permanent page file on the same partition as the Windows installation.  Lastly we set Windows XP's Visual Effects to "best performance", installed all of our benchmarking software, defragged the hard drives and ran all of the tests.

The HotHardware Test Systems
Who Needs a Full Tower Anymore?
System 1:
Intel Pentium 4
     3.2GHz Processor
Shuttle SB65G2
     Intel 865PE Chipset
2x256MB Kingston PC3200
     CL2 - HyperX DIMMS
Radeon 9800 Pro
On-Board 10/100 Ethernet
On-Board Audio
WD "Raptor" 36GB Hard Drive
     10,000 RPM SATA

Windows XP Pro SP1
ATi catalyst v3.8 Drivers
Intel Drivers v5.0.2.1003
DirectX 9.0b
SYSTEM 2:
AMD Athlon 64 3200+
     2.0GHz Processor
Shuttle SN85G4
     nForce3 Pro 150 Chipset
2x256 Kingston PC3200
     CL2 - HyperX DIMMS
Radeon 9800 Pro
On-Board 10/100 Ethernet
On-Board Audio
WD "Raptor" 36GB Hard Drive
     10,000 RPM SATA

Windows XP Pro SP1
ATi catalyst v3.8 Drivers
Intel Drivers v5.0.2.1003
DirectX 9.0b
PCMark2002 Benchmarks
Some Synthetic Scores

In our first batch of tests, we used Futuremark's PCMark2002 benchmarking suite.  Like other synthetic benchmarks, it's difficult to translate PCMark2002 scores into "real world" performance.  However, because it is very easy to run, and produces repeatable, comparable results, PCMark2002 has become a staple here in the H.H. labs.  We ran PCMark2002's "CPU" and "Memory" performance modules on both systems.  The CPU module incorporates the following tests:

CPU Test:

  • JPEG decompression

  • Zlib compression & decompression

  • Text search

  • MP3 Audio Conversion

  • 3D Vector Calculation

Memory Test Technical details: (Quoted From Futuremark)

Raw read, write, and read-modify-write operations are performed starting from a 3072 kilobytes array decreasing in size to 1536 KB, 384 KB, 48 KB and finally 6 KB. Each size of block is tested two second and the amount of accessed data is given as result. In the STL container test a list of 116 byte elements is constructed and sorted by an integer pseudo-random key. The list is then iterated through as many times as possible for 2 seconds and the total size of the accessed elements is given as result. There are 6 runs of this test, with 24576 items in the largest run corresponding to a total data amount of 1536 KB, decreasing in size to 12288 items (768 KB), 6144 items (384 KB), 1536 items (96 KB), 768 items (48 KB) and 96 items in the smallest run corresponding to 6 KB of total data.

PCMark2002 had the Pentium 4 equipped SB65G2 out in front of the SN86G4 in both tests.  In the CPU performance module, the 3.2GHz Pentium 4 pulled ahead of the Athlon 64 3200+ by 1375 points, a 21% advantage.  The SB65G2 also held onto a 608 point lead in the memory performance module.  However, these two tests are heavily dependant on clock speed and raw memory bandwidth - two areas where the Athlon 64 3200+ doesn't fare well against a high-end P4.  In tests where latency and IPC are important though, the Athlon 64 3200+ should have a marked advantage.

Video Encoding Benchmarks With The SB65G2 & SN85G4 XPCs
Wanna Make a Movie?

We also did some video encoding with both of these Shuttle SFF systems.  To get the scores listed below, we took a 24MB, standard MPEG 2 format video clip and converted it to the DivX format, using v5.1 of the CODEC, with XMPEG v5.02.  The results are reported below are in Minutes:Seconds, lower numbers equal better performance.

The SB65G2 with its 3.2GHz Pentium 4 performed very well in this test, besting the Athlon 64 3200+ equipped SN85G4 by a full 20 seconds.  This is another test where the Pentium 4 has historically excelled.  Xmpeg takes advantage of the Pentium 4's hyper-threading technology, so as far as this benchmark is concerned, the SB65G2 is essentially equipped with 2 processors.  I wonder what'll happen when we move onto some gaming and real-world tests?  Let's find out!

More Tests & The Rating

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The Shuttle SB65G2 & SN85G4 XPCs - Page 4

The Shuttle SB65G2 & SN85G4 XPCs
They Just Keep Getting Better...

By, Marco Chiappetta
November 13, 2003
 

To isolate CPU performance, we ran some low-resolution tests with Novalogic's Comanche 4 and Epic's Unreal Tournament 2003. We often use these tests in our evaluation of 3D Graphics cards, but they are actually well suited as processor / system bandwidth benchmarks when run at low-resolutions with a high-end graphics card. Frame rates in Comanche 4 and UT2003 generally scale upwards with increased processor and memory clock speeds, especially at low resolutions. To further isolate CPU performance, we also disabled audio in the Comanche 4 test.

Gaming Benchmarks With The SB65G2 & SN85G4 XPCs
They Frag Just Fine

We saw superior frame rates with both Comanche 4 and Unreal Tournament 2003 on the SN85G4, but the performance deltas were not earth shattering.  The SN85G4 nudged past the SB65G2 by about 2.3% in the Comanche 4 benchmark.  In the Unreal Tournament 2003 test, however, the SN85G4 fared quite a bit better.  The Athlon 64 3200+ powered system outran the 3.2GHz P4 by 14.2 frames per second - an 8.9% increase.

"Real World" Application Benchmarks
All Play and No Work Makes Jack Unemployed

To test "Real World" application performance, we used ZD Labs' Business Winstone 2002 and Content Creation Winstone 2002 and 2003 benchmarks.  We'll directly quote the eTestingLabs website for an explanation as to how Business Winstone 2002 derives its score. (Content Creation Winstone 2002 and 2003 use the same process, but the tests are comprised of different applications):

"Business Winstone is a system-level, application-based benchmark that measures a PC's overall performance when running today's top-selling Windows-based 32-bit applications on Windows 98, Windows 2000 (SP2 or later), Windows Me, or Windows XP. Business Winstone doesn't mimic what these packages do; it runs real applications through a series of scripted activities and uses the time a PC takes to complete those activities to produce its performance scores."

Business Winstone 2002:
  • Five Microsoft Office 2002 applications
    (Access, Excel, FrontPage, PowerPoint, and Word)

  • Microsoft Project 2000

  • Lotus Notes

  • WinZip 8.0

  • Norton Antivirus

  • Netscape Communicator

Content Creation Winstone 2002:
  • Adobe Photoshop 6.0.1

  • Adobe Premiere 6.0

  • Macromedia Director 8.5

  • Macromedia Dreamweaver UltraDev 4

  • Microsoft Windows Media Encoder 7.01.00.3055

  • Netscape Navigator 6/6.01

  • Sonic Foundry Sound Forge 5.0c (build 184)

Content Creation Winstone 2003:
  • Adobe® Photoshop® 7.0
  • Adobe® Premiere® 6.0
  • Macromedia® Director 8.5.1
  • Macromedia® Dreamweaver 4
  • Microsoft® Windows Media Encoder 7.01.00.3055
  • Netscape 6.2.3
  • NewTek's LightWave 7.5
  • Sonic Foundry Sound Forge 6.0

The SN85G4 outperformed the SB65G2 in the Business Winstone 2002 and Content Creation Winstone 2002 tests, but the SB65G2 pulled ahead in Content Creation Winstone 2003.  The "2002" versions of these benchmarks have traditionally run well on Athlon XP systems, things are no different with the Athlon 64.  In fact, the lower latency that comes courtesy of the Athlon 64's integrated memory controller give the A64 3200+ a performance boost in these tests.  In the CC2003 benchmark on the other hand, the SB65G2 managed to take the lead.  This benchmark incorporates NewTek's LightWave 7.5, which favors the Pentium 4 architecture.  One of the reasons for the SB65G2's strong showing here.

The SN85G4 XPC:

There is a lot to like about the Shuttle SN85G4 XPC.  Shuttle's new G4 chassis is more aesthetically pleasing that all of their previous XPCs, and the omission of the external 3.5" floppy drive bay in favor of a 6-in-1 card reader was a wise choice in our opinion.  The nForce3 150 chipset powering this system offers excellent performance and compatibility, and is loaded with useful features, although we would have liked to have seen NVIDIA include their SoundStorm technology and Gigabit Ethernet with the nForce3 150.  The overall performance of the SN85G4 was great, and proves that you no longer need a full tower and an ATX motherboard to have a high-end PC.  Couple this system with a Radeon 9800 Pro, an Athlon 64 3200+ and a some fast memory and you've got yourself one powerful mini-machine.  At $349.00 US, the SN85G4 is also priced competitively with other flagship SFF systems.  In the end, there is very little we don't like.  We feel Shuttle has done well with the SN85G4.  Now all we have to do is convince them to use ribbon cables run under the motherboard for all of the front mounted connectors to further clean-up the system's internals, and we'll be content! (for now!)  Based on its excellent feature set, top-notch performance and stylish looks, we're giving the Shuttle SN85G4 a 9 on the HotHardware Heat Meter.

The SB65G2 XPC:

The SB65G2 is another great addition to Shuttle's XPC line-up.  The Springdale chipset powering this system has matured into an inexpensive, fast and stable product - a perfect match for any PC, but especially useful in a much more "hostile" environment like an SFF system where heat and power concerns are compounded.  The G2 enclosure does look a bit dated in the face of the competition, and even Shuttle's new G4 model, but it definitely is not a major drawback.  The SB65G2 is packed with great features, especially the built-in wireless network capabilities, and it performed excellently.  The SB65G2 also seemed very comfortable running our CPU overclocked to impressive levels.  All in all, there aren't many negative aspects to the SB65G2.  It's also priced relatively well at a $330.00.  Anyone looking for an Intel powered SFF system must take a long, hard look at the SB65G2; it's a very well rounded product that's worthy of your consideration.  We're also giving it a 9 on the HotHardware Heat Meter. 

Discuss this or any other Hot Hardware Review in the PC Hardware Forum!
 

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Shuttle SB65G2 & SN85G4 XPCs - Page 5
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