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Shuttle SN25P XPC (nForce 4 Ultra)
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Date: Apr 26, 2005
Section:Systems
Author: Marco Chiappetta
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Introduction, Specification & Bundle

It seems that Shuttle consistently expands their line of XPC small form factor systems as new core logic chipsets are released. A quick trip to their product page reveals a current line-up of XPCs based on chipsets from Intel, NVIDIA, ATI, SiS and VIA. There are no less than six different chassis designs available as well, with each one designed to cater to a specific audience, and prices range from the mid-$200 mark to about $400 U.S. Looking at their current line-up, it clear that there certainly is no shortage of options available.

Today, we're going to take a look at one of Shuttle's high-end offerings, namely the SN25P. This XPC is based on NVIDIA's nForce 4 Ultra chipset for AMD's socket 939 platform, and incorporates some value-adding features like an Envy24 audio codec and a 6-in-1 card reader. We found the SN25P XPC to be a very capable SFF PC.  Read on and check it out...

  

Specifications of the Shuttle SN25P XPC
A mini nForce 4 Ultra

Processor
·_AMD Athlon 64/FX (Socket 939) Processors

Memory
·_Dual-channel DDR 400/333
·_(2) DIMM slots (2GB max)

Motherboard

·_FN25 (proprietary)
·_NVIDIA nForce4 MCP
·_1GHz (2000MT/s) HyperTransport enhanced System Bus
·_(1) x1 PCI-E slot

Graphics
·_x16 PCI-E Slot

Audio
·_8-channel audio
·_Digital (SPDIF) audio ports
·_Analog audio ports

Network
·_Gigabit LAN

8-in-1 Memory Card Reader
·_CF I/II, MS, MSP, SD, MMC, SM, MD

Storage
·_(1) ATA133 headers
·_(4) Serial ATA 300 headers
·_NVIDIA RAID (0, 1, JBOD)
·_(1) FDD header
·_(1) 5.25" storage bay
·_(3) 3.5" storage bays

Front-panel I/O
·_(2) USB 2.0 ports
·_(1) FireWire port
·_(1) Microphone port
·_(1) Headphone port
·_8-in-1 card reader
·_Power button
·_Reset button

Rear-panel I/O
·_(1) PS/2 Keyboard socket
·_(1) PS/2 Mouse socket
·_(4) USB 2.0 ports
·_(1) FireWire 400 port
·_(1) Gigabit LAN (RJ-45)
·_8-channel audio out
·_SPDIF I/O ports
·_Coaxial Audio port
·_Line-in
·_Serial port
·_CMOS Reset button

Silent X (system cooling)
·_Integrated Cooling Engine (ICE)
·_Intelligently-engineered airflow mechanics

Power Supply
·_Silent X 350W

Dimensions (L x W x H, mm)
·_320 x 210 x 220

Weight (net / gross; kg, lbs)
·_4.25 (9.35) / 6.05 (13.31)


      

    

Shuttle bundles a relatively unique assortment of accessories with the SN25P. Included with the XPC itself, we found three separate user's manuals detailing the installation, features, and capabilities of the SN25P and the FN25 motherboard that powers the system, along with a driver CD, a utility CD, an XPC accessory catalog, a power cable, two small silver feet, a Molex splitter, a small package of thermal paste, and short floppy and SATA cables. The traditional long ribbon cables and assortment of mounting screws that came with most older XPCs are no longer necessary, thanks to the newly re-designed mounting rails for all of the drives, that require no tools to install and use. These new rails simply snap onto the drives and lock into place. We found the rails to work very well, and hope that other manufacturers of small form factor systems come up with similar solutions.

Shuttle's custom heat-pipe aluminum / copper hybrid I.C.E. CPU cooler is also included with the SN25P, along with a couple of new additions. On top of the traditional "P-series" chassis bundle outlined above, the SN25P also shipped with four foam insulators, that are designed to minimize hard drive noise by dampening vibrations, and a pair of silver EMI shields.  The hard drive insulators are simple adhesive stickers, so they worked as planned, but the EMI shields need to be re-engineered.  Friction is supposed to hold them in place, but the slightest bump will jar them loose.  A couple pieces of tape remedied the situation, but Shuttle should rethink their EMI shield implementation.

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The SN25P: Inside & Out

The Shuttle SN25P, as its name implies, is built upon their P-Series chassis. The P-Series chassis is somewhat different from previous models, because it overcomes some of the shortcomings of older small form factor systems. One potential caveat with some older XPCs was expandability. Many of them were equipped with card readers in lieu of a floppy drive, while others had only one internal 3.5" drive bay left available should a floppy drive be installed in the system. Yet another issue for some XPC owners was finding an optical drive to perfectly match the color of their XPC, especially if it was silver. With the P-Series chassis though, Shuttle eliminates all of these issues.

The Shuttle SN25P XPC
Is this their best XPC yet?

      

      

As you can see in the images above, the front of the SN25P looks just like other P-Series XPCs, albeit with a slightly different color scheme.  The SN25P has a dark, gun-metal grey enclosure, with a metallic blue-front bezel and drive bay covers. Starting at the top of the SN25P, you'll find the built-in 6-in-1 card reader, and just below it to the right you'll see the silver CD/DVD eject button. This eject button has an adjustable plastic nub inside the chassis that slides so it can be aligned with the eject button on a standard optical drive. In a previous review of the SB81P, we found the system to need a bit of refinement, because we couldn't get a proper alignment with either a Sony or Lite-On drive. With the SN25P, however, we had no trouble with either brand of drive. The mechanism is the same, but the SN25P's bezel seemed to be more rigid and was more accommodating. Just below the optical drive bay you'll see the external 3.5" drive bay, and if you continue down the system you'll find the power and reset switches. At the very bottom of the unit are the front-mounted USB, Firewire, and audio connectors.

Moving onto the rear of the system, the SN25P's rear I/O panel is equipped with a single 9-pin serial port, a single Firewire connector, PS/2 mouse and keyboard ports, an RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet connector, four USB 2.0 ports, and a total of 8 audio inputs and outputs, including S/PDIF. The Gigabit Ethernet port is powered by a PCI Express Broadcom controller, that should offer superior performance to most other GigE solutions, especially those limited by the shared bandwidth of the older PCI bus. And the SN25P's audio comes by way of Via's excellent Envy24 controller. Also visible in the pictures above, beneath the serial port, is a small "Clear CMOS" button. This button makes it extremely easy to reset the CMOS should a BIOS tweak go wrong. Also note the number of exhaust fans on the rear of the system; there are a total of three. Two are mounted at the top of the case, with the third situated inside the 350 Watt SilentX power supply.

      

      

The SN25P's internals have a few interesting aspects that we should point out as well. Shuttle's relatively new I.C.E. heat-pipe CPU cooler, which is equipped with four spring loaded mounting screws and a single fan, is used in this system. Whereas previous XPCs had a simple clip mechanism to hold the cooler in place. We found the mounting screws required a significant amount of pressure to get the thread started, so be careful when installing the cooler.  Should your screwdriver slip, and nick the motherboard it could be damaged irreparably. Once installed, the cooler is flanked on either side by plastic shrouds, and another exhaust fan. This configuration pulls cool air into one side of the system, through the CPU cooler's fins, and exhausts it out of the other side. Underneath one of the shrouds is the FN25 motherboard's VRM components. This design works well, because all of the hottest running parts of the system are treated to a constant flow of cool air pulled in through vents cut into the side of the enclosure. The nForce 4 Ultra chipset is also actively cooled by a simple aluminum heatsink and fan combo, so even though the SN25P is a small form factor system, there is a lot of air constantly being circulated inside it.

The FN25 motherboard used in this XPC is equipped with a single PCI Express X16 graphics slot and a single PCI Express X1 slot. Thanks to the inherent capabilities of the nForce 4 Ultra chipset, the FN25 has full support for SATA RAID, and because the new chassis can accommodate up to four hard drives (if no optical drive is used), setting up a RAID array in an XPC is now a possibility. Two SATA hard drives can be mounted at the very top of the system, just above the removable tray that houses the card reader, optical drive, and floppy drive.

Something also worth noting is that the SN25P XPC is completely pre-wired for two SATA hard drives, and a pair of IDE devices.  All of the power and data cables necessary to connect two hard drives at the top of the unit, an optical drive and a second IDE device are already in place, and secured in their proper positions. This was a great move on Shuttle's part, as the pre-wired case and tool-less drive rail assemblies made building up the system extremely easy. In fact, the only cable that we needed to install ourselves was the floppy cable.

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The BIOS, Overclocking & Noise Levels

The FN25 motherboard used in the Shuttle SN25P XPC is equipped with an Award / Phoenix v6.0 BIOS derivative, very similar to the vast majority of the other motherboards shipping today. Shuttle has added a few additional tweaking options, however, that give the their XPCs some fairly unique features and capabilities...

The BIOS: Shuttle's SN25P XPC
It's Got What You Need

      

      

Like most systems, the majority of the SN25P's standard BIOS menus contain options that are commonly found on a plethora of other products. The Standard CMOS Features, Advanced BIOS Features, and Advanced Chipset Features menus are home to some of the more common options available for enabling or disabling integrated peripherals, assigning the boot order, setting the time and date, etc. The PC Health section is used to monitor temperatures and voltages, as well as tweak the "Smart Fan" settings, which in turn will affect the SN25P's noise levels.

In our first review of a P-Series XPC (the SB81P), we noted that some analysts experienced CPU throttling with high-end Pentium 4s installed, due to the default configuration of the "Smart Fan" options. The SN25P, however, did not appear to suffer from any thermal issues whatsoever in our experience.  After running for days with an Athlon 64 4000+, a GeForce 6800 GT, and a 10K RPM hard drive installed, we did not have to contend with any thermal issues at all.

Overclocking Tools: Shuttle's SN25P XPC
To OC, or Not OC - That Is The Question...

      

    

In the Frequency / Voltage Control menu is where users will find most of the SN25P's various overclocking options. The advanced chipset menu is home to the rest. Using the options available on the FN25 motherboard, users can alter their processor's bus speed between 200MHz and 300MHz, in 1MHz increments. The CPU and HT multipliers can also be adjusted, and DRAM and chipset voltages are user configurable as well. CPU voltages between 0.8v and 1.7v (in 0.0125v increments) are available, DRAM voltages range from 2.7v to 2.9v (in .1v increments), and chipset voltages between 1.6v and 1.7, in .05v increments, are available. Noticeably absent was an option to manually lock or dial-in specific PCI Express / PCI clock speeds.

Overclocking with the Shuttle SN25P XPC was very easy, as it is with most nForce 4 Ultra based systems. To overclock our processor, we first increased our CPU voltage by .1v, and then raised the chipset and Memory voltages as well, to 1.7 and 2.9v respectively. We then dropped the HT multiplier to 3x (600MHz DDR effective) and dropped our CPU's multiplier as well, and increased the HT clock speed until the system was no longer stable.  In the end, we hit an impressive 280MHz HT clock speed. The system would actually boot and load Windows with higher clock speeds, but we couldn't reliably complete all of our benchmarks, so we backed things down a bit.  280MHz seemed to be the sweet spot with our particular setup.


Throughout all of our testing, we kept our trusty RadioShack noise level meter nearby, and recorded the maximum and minimum noise levels emitted from the SN25P. With our meter about 3 feet away from the system, we never registered any thing higher than 48db. And that was when the system was first powered up and the fans were spinning at their maximum speeds. When the "Smart Fan" controls took over, and throttled fan speeds according to system temperatures, the SN25P was barely audible. If you don't plan to overclock your XPC or will be using a mid-range CPU, and want a near-silent system, the SN25P would be a great choice.

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Our Test Systems & SiSoft SANDRA

How we configured our test systems: When configuring the test systems for this review, we first entered their system BIOSes and set each board to its "Optimized" or "High-Performance Defaults."  The hard drives were then formatted, and Windows XP Professional (SP2) was installed. When the Windows installation was complete, we installed the rest of the necessary drivers and removed Windows Messenger from the system.  Auto-Updating and System Restore were also disabled, and we set up 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.

Test System Specifications
"Intel & AMD Inside!"
SYSTEM 1:
AMD Athlon 64 4000+
(2.4GHz)

Shuttle SN25P XPC
(FN25 nForce 4 Ultra)

2x512MB Corsair PC3200
CL 2-2-2-5

GeForce 6800 GT
On-board Ethernet
On-board Audio

WD "Raptor" HD
10,000 RPM SATA

Windows XP Pro SP2
nForce 4 Drivers v6.53
NVIDIA Forceware v71.89
DirectX 9.0c
SYSTEM 2:
AMD Athlon 64 4000+
(2.4GHz)

MSI K8N Neo4 Ultra
(nForce 4 Ultra)

2x512MB Corsair PC3200
CL 2-2-2-5

GeForce 6800 GT
On-board Ethernet
On-board Audio

WD "Raptor" HD
10,000 RPM SATA

Windows XP Pro SP2
nForce 4 Drivers v6.53
NVIDIA Forceware v71.89
DirectX 9.0c
SYSTEM 3:
AMD Athlon 64 4000+

(2.4GHz)

Gigabyte K8NXP-SLI
(nForce 4 SLI)

2x512MB Corsair PC3200
CL 2-2-2-5

GeForce 6800 GT
Onboard Ethernet
Onboard Audio

WD "Raptor" HD
10,000 RPM SATA

Windows XP Pro SP2
nForce 4 Drivers v6.53

Forceware v71.89
DirectX 9.0c
SYSTEM 2:
Pentium 4 EE 3.73GHz
(LGA 775)

NVIDIA Reference Mobo
(nForce 4 SLI IE)

2x512MB Corsair DDR2-667

CL 3-2-2-7

GeForce 6800 GT
On-board Ethernet
On-board Audio

WD "Raptor" HD
10,000 RPM SATA

Windows XP Pro SP2
nForce 4 Drivers v7.02
NVIDIA Forceware v71.89
DirectX 9.0c
Preliminary Benchmarks with SiSoft SANDRA 2005
Synthetic Testing

We began our testing with SiSoftware's SANDRA, the System ANalyzer, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant. SANDRA consists of a set of information and diagnostic utilities that can provide a host of useful information about your hardware and operating system. We ran three of the built-in subsystem tests that partially comprise the SANDRA 2005 suite (CPU, Multimedia, and Memory) with the Shuttle SN25P XPC.  All of the scores reported below were taken with the processor and memory running at their default clock speeds of 2.4GHz and 200MHz (DDR400).


Processor Benchmark

Multimedia Benchmark

Memory Benchmark

The Shuttle SN25P XPC performed exactly as expected in the three SANDRA performance modules we ran. The CPU Arithmetic Benchmark had the Athlon 64 4000+ powered SN25P finishing just behind a higher clocked Opteron, and the Multimedia Benchmark reported scores on par with every other nForce 4 motherboard we've tested.  SANDRA's Memory Bandwidth Benchmark reported integer and floating point numbers just over the 6GB/s mark, which also falls in line with similarly equipped systems.

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PCMark04: CPU & Memory

For our next round of synthetic benchmarks, we ran the CPU and Memory performance modules built into Futuremark's PCMark04. For those interested in more than just the graphs, we've got a couple of quotes directly from Futuremark that explain exactly what these tests do, and how they work.

Futuremark PCMark04
More Synthetic CPU and Memory Benchmarks

"The CPU test suite is a collection of tests that are run to isolate the performance of the CPU. There are nine tests in all. Two pairs of tests are run multithreaded - each test in the pair is run in its own thread.  The remaining five tests are run single threaded. These tests include such functions as file encryption, decryption, compression and decompression, grammar check, audio conversion, WMV and DivX video compression."

From this point forward, we'll be comparing the performance of Shuttle SN25P XPC to a trio of full-sized systems, all powered by various versions of the nForce 4 chipset. Two of the reference systems were equipped with the exact same CPU and supporting hardware, and the other was powered by a 3.73GHz P4 EE and 1GHz of DDR2-667 RAM.

As you can see, PCMark's CPU performance module had the Pentium 4 / nForce 4 SLI Intel Edition rig solidly in the lead, followed by the three A64 powered systems.  The SN25P actually took the top spot, but all of the Athlon based systems finished within a fraction of a percent of one another.


"The Memory test suite is a collection of tests that isolate the performance of the memory subsystem. The memory subsystem consists of various devices on the PC. This includes the main memory, the CPU internal cache (known as the L1 cache) and the external cache (known as the L2 cache). As it is difficult to find applications that only stress the memory, we explicitly developed a set of tests geared for this purpose. The tests are written in C++ and assembly. They include: Reading data blocks from memory, Writing data blocks to memory performing copy operations on data blocks, random access to data items and latency testing."

PCMark's memory performance module also had the Pentium 4 finishing well ahead of the other systems, but this time the succession of Athlons was reversed. In this test, the SN25P XPC came in just behind the other AMD based nForce 4 platforms, but again the performance delta separating the three A64 powered systems was quite small.

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Content Creation Winstone & WorldBench 5

To get this next batch of results, we used Veritest's Content Creation Winstone 2004 suite.  Before running these benchmarks, we patched the program to its latest version (v1.01), shut-down any unnecessary background processes, and defragged the hard drive.

Content Creation Winstone 2004
Real-World Application Performance

The Veritest Content Creation Winstone 2004 test utilizes the following applications in its benchmark routine. For more information about this test, see this page:

  • Adobe Photoshop 7.0.1
  • Adobe Premiere 6.50
  • Macromedia Director MX 9.0
  • Macromedia Dreamweaver MX 6.1
  • Microsoft Windows Media Encoder 9 Version 9.00.00.2980
  • NewTek's LightWave 3D 7.5b
  • Steinberg WaveLab 4.0f

The Athlon 64 powered systems jumped to the head of the pack in the Content Creation 2004 benchmark. Shuttle's SN25P XPC finished in the middle of the pack with a score of 36.6, but the performance delta separating the A64 based rigs was minuscule, and falls well within the margin of error in this test.

PC World's World Bench 5.0: Photoshop 7 & Office XP Modules
More Real-World Application Performance

PC World Magazine's WorldBench 5.0 is a new breed of Business and Professional application benchmark, poised to replace the aging and no-longer supported Winstone tests. WorldBench 5.0 consists of a number of performance modules that each utilize one, or a group of, popular applications to gauge performance.  Below we have the results from WB 5's Photoshop 7 and Office XP modules, recorded in seconds.  Lower times indicate better performance.

 

WorldBench 5.0's Photoshop and Office XP SP2 performance modules had the Shuttle SN25P finishing in the lead in one test, and trailing behind the other systems in another.  The SN25P finished in first place - by 2 seconds - in the Photoshop performance module, but it finished in third place in the Office XP SP2 module, trailing the two faster Athlon 64 based systems by as many as 6 seconds.

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Windows Media Encoder & LAME MP3

We continued our testing of the Shuttle SN25P XPC with a video encoding benchmark based on Windows Media Encoder 9.  In this test, we ran the Windows Media Encoder 9 portion of the WorldBench 5 suite; encoding times were recorded in seconds.  Lower times indicate better performance.

Windows Media Encoder 9
More Digital Video Encoding

In WorldBench 5.0's video encoding performance module, the 3.73GHz Pentium 4 Extreme Edition cruised right past all of the A64s, besting the fastest Athlon by almost a minute. The SN25P finished in a two-way tie for the top spot among the three Athlon powered systems, however, with a total encoding time of 386 seconds.

LAME MP3 Encoding Test
Converting a Large WAV To MP3

In our custom Lame MP3 encoding test, we convert a large digital audio file to the MP3 format, which is a very popular scenario that many end users work with on a day-to-day basis, to provide portability and storage of their digital audio content.  In this test, we chose a large 223MB WAV file (a never-ending Grateful Dead jam) and converted it to the MP3 format. Processing times are recorded below. Shorter times equate to better performance.

If you disregard the Pentium 4's performance here, you'll see that the Shuttle SN25P XPC finished our custom LAME encoding test slightly ahead of the other AMD based systems, with a total time of 2 minutes and 21 seconds. The SN25P's lead was only 2 seconds though, which is not an eternity by any stretch of the imagination, but its the fastest Athlon powered system nonetheless.

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KribiBench v1.1

Next up, we ran the Kribibench rendering benchmark produced by the folks at Adept Development.  Kribibench is an SSE aware software renderer.  A 3D model is rendered and animated by the host CPU, and the average frame rate is reported.  We used two of the included models with this benchmark: an "Exploded Sponge" model consisting of over 19.2 million polygons and a gargantuan "Ultra" model that is comprised of over 16 billion polys...

Kribibench v1.1
Details: www.adeptdevelopment.com

 

The 3.73GHz Pentium 4 Extreme Edition / nForce 4 SLI Intel Edition combo dominated the Athlon powered systems in the KribiBench tests, thanks to its memory bandwidth advantage and HyperThreading capabilities. If we focus on the Athlon 64 based rigs though, there was very little variation in performance. Technically, the SN25P finished in last place in the "Sponge Explode" test, and finished in first place (among the A64s) in the "Ultra" test, but again the performance delta separating the first and last place finishers was quite small.

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Cinebench 2003 & 3DMark05: CPU

The Cinebench 2003 benchmark is an OpenGL 3D rendering performance test, based on the commercially available Cinema 4D application.  This is a multi-threaded, multi-processor aware benchmark that renders a single 3D scene and tracks the length of the entire process. The time it took each test system to render the entire scene is represented in the graph below (listed in seconds).  We ran two sets of numbers here, one in single-thread mode, and another in the benchmark's multi-thread mode for our Hyper-Threading-enabled P4 test system.  Athlon 64s are only capable of running the single-thread test, hence the "WNR" listed for each A64 powered system in the graph below.

Cinebench 2003 Performance Tests
3D Modeling & Rendering Tests

When running Cinebench 2003 in multi-thread mode, the P4 held onto an approximate 12 second lead over the Athlons. In single-thread mode, however, it was all about the Athlon 64. The SN25P XPC finished in a tie with our full-sized nForce 4 SLI based rig, only a tenth of a second behind the MSI K8N Neo4 Platinum.

Futuremark 3DMark05 - CPU Test
Simulated DirectX Gaming Performance

It may not be an actual game, but 3DMark05's built-in CPU test is a "gaming related" DirectX metric that's useful for comparing relative performance among similarly equipped systems.  This test consists of two different 3D scenes that are generated with a software renderer, which is dependant on the host CPU's performance.  This means that the calculations normally reserved for your 3D accelerator are instead sent to the central host processor.  The number of frames generated per second in each test are used to determine the final score.

3DMark05's CPU performance module had the P4 powered system planted firmly in the lead, with the Athlon 64s all finishing within a few percentage points of each other.  The Shuttle SN25P trailed slightly behind the other AMD powered test systems, but again the performance delta separating the "fastest" and "slowest" Athlons was very small, in the neighborhood of 119 points.

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Unreal Tournament 2004 & Doom 3

To start our in-game testing, we did some low-resolution benchmarking with Epic's Unreal Tournament 2004.  When testing with UT 2004, we use a specific set of game engine initialization parameters that ensure all of the systems are being benchmarked with the exact same in-game settings and graphical options.  Like the other in-game tests in this review, we used a "Low-Quality" setting with UT2004 that isolates CPU and memory performance.

Unreal Tournament 2004
DirectX 8 Gaming Performance

The Shuttle SN25P XPC scored another first place finish in our custom Unreal Tournament 2004 benchmark. Its score of 155.82 frames per second was marginally faster then the other nForce 4 Ultra based motherboard, the MSI K8N Neo4 Platinum, but it was about 3% faster then the nForce 4 SLI.

Benchmarks with Doom 3
OpenGL Gaming Performance

For our next game test, we benchmarked all of the test systems using a custom multi-player Doom 3 timedemo. We cranked the resolution down to 640 x 480, and configured the game to run at its "Low-Quality" graphics setting. Although Doom 3 typically taxes today's high-end GPUs, when it's configured at these minimal settings it's more CPU / Memory-bound than anything else...

Our custom multi-player Doom 3 benchmark had the nForce 4 SLI rig finishing in first place, followed by the nForce 4 Ultra based K8N Neo4 Platinum and nForce 4 SLI Intel Edition reference motherboard. And although the SN25P XPC trailed slightly behind all of the other systems here, the approximate 2 frames per second separating it from any of the full-sized rigs is nothing to get excited about.

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Performance Summary & Conclusion

Performance Summary: Shuttle's SN25P XPC performed very well throughout our entire battery of benchmarks. When compared to two other Athlon 64 powered nForce 4 based reference systems, we found that the SN25P performed on-par with its full-sized counterparts in every test. The fact that the SN25P traded the top spot with its "full-sized" competition proves that users don't have to sacrifice performance should they opt for a small form factor system.

The SN25P is yet another winner in Shuttle's highly regarded line of XPC systems. The P-Series chassis, on which the SN25P is based, is definitely a step in the right direction, with its intelligently designed cooling scheme and almost completely tool-less installation (a philips head screwdriver is needed to install the CPU cooler). And the SN25P's well appointed BIOS, good looks, no compromise performance, and near silent operation are also definite pluses. The only issue we had with the SN25P had to do with the unstable nature of the included EMI shields, but a piece of tape easily solved the problem and quite frankly they don't have to be installed in the first place. This is only the second XPC we have reviewed that came them.

At roughly $400 the Shuttle SN25P isn't cheap, but considering that you get a case, a card reader, a motherboard, cooling fans, pre-routed data cables, and a custom CPU cooler in a 12" x 9" x 9" package, the $400 price tag is easily justified. The SN25P XPC is one of, if not, the best small form factor systems to come through the HotHardware labs in a while. Based on its performance, feature set, good looks, and intelligent design, we're giving the Shuttle SN25P XPC a solid 9 on the Heat Meter.

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