Shuttle SB65G2 & SN85G4 XPCs

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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

  • 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
  • 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. 

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