Shuttle SB61G2 XPC Review

The Shuttle SB61G2 XPC Review - Page 4

The Shuttle XPC SB61G2
Pint-Sized P4 Powerhouse!

"Burned in" by Robert Maloney
June 8th, 2003

"Real World" Application Benchmarks
Back to work!

To test "real world" application performance, we used ZD Labs' Business Winstone 2002 and Content Creation Winstones 2002 benchmarks.  We'll directly quote ZD's eTestingLabs website, for an explanation as to how Business Winstone 2002 derives its score. (Content Creation Winstone 2002 uses the same process, but the test is 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 Applications:
  • 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 Applications:
  • Adobe Photoshop 6.0.1

  • Adobe Premiere 6.0

  • Macromedia Director 8.5

  • Macromedia Dreamweaver UltraDev 4

  • Microsoft Windows Media Encoder

  • Netscape Navigator 6/6.01

  • Sonic Foundry Sound Forge 5.0c (build 184)

The Abit IS7 came out on top in both tests, but by a minor and completely negligible difference each time.  Using the integrated graphics in these tests brought the performance down of the SB61G2 by just a bit.  As we have explained earlier, this is caused by the reliance of the integrated graphics engine on the same memory bandwidth that the system is using.  Another reason is because there is also less system memory available.  When using the add-in Radeon 9500 Pro, the full 512MB we installed is available to the system.  When using the Intel Extreme Graphics 2 however, 64 of those megabytes are allocated for the graphics processor, leaving only 448MB available.

Overclocking Results
Going where no one has gone before

As we mentioned earlier, the FB61 motherboard has overclocking capabilities not found on previous models.  We started out tentatively, this being our first overclocking experience with a new P4 2.40C CPU.  Since this was a retail version, we could not look forward to changing the multiplier, but set out to raise the FSB in jumps of 5MHz.  Immediately we hit a roadblock at 210MHz, but we found we could get past this by lowering the timings on the memory to 2-6-3-3.  From there we moved up to 225MHz for the FSB, at which point the system would not even boot.  At this speed, the memory was running at 450MHz, well above it's rating.  We went back into the BIOS at changed the memory speed to DDR320, what amounts to a 5:4 divider.  It was clear sailing all the way to a 255MHz FSB, maxing out the BIOS settings.  This equated to the CPU running at 3.06GHz.  We re-ran a few benchmarks to see what performance gains we would get.

The graphs speak for themselves.  We got some nice boosts from overclocking the system, breaking 9000 in the PCMark 2002 memory module.  3DMark 2001SE saw a nice increase as well, about an 8% difference.  While we wouldn't recommend keeping the system overclocked this high for a long time, it's good to know that such options are available and that stability of this new Suhttle XPC is right up there as well.

Once again, it looks like Shuttle has come up with a big winner in the SB61G2.  Designing this new Mini PC around their Springdale-based FB61 motherboard was a no-brainer, as it really benefits from the 800MHz FSB P4 support, Dual DDR400 memory channels and to a lesser degree the Intel Extreme Graphics 2 engine.  Some thought has to be taken beforehand on what one intends to do with the XPC, as expandability is a small concern.  Hardcore gamers will definitely want to go out and purchase a more powerful video card, as the on-board graphics are only passable as a 2D solution.  Likewise, audiophiles may want to look into a superior audio solution, although the RealTek ALC650 codec does do an admirable job.  Additionally, Shuttle has listened to end user feedback and have added features in the BIOS that allow the system to be overclocked.  The Smart-fan option in the BIOS is a boon to those users searching for peace and quiet, as the system runs almost perfectly quiet, even under load.  With great looks on the outside and a powerhouse on the inside, we find it hard to find many faults with the Shuttle XPC SB61G2. 

We'll give the Shuttle XPC SB61G2 a 9.5 out of 10 on the HotHardware Heat Meter, for overall excellence inside and out.


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