Setup & Quality
Small? You Betcha!
Front Mounted Connectors:
Shuttle did a great job
designing the SN41G2's enclosure. Obviously, because
the system is so small, there is a very limited amount of
room inside the case. Luckily, the drive tray is
easily removable, which makes working within the system
surprisingly painless. We were also happy to see the
Northbridge was actively cooled, and were even happier when
we found the fan was almost inaudible. About our only
gripe was with the internal case wiring. The rigid
cables running to the front mounted ports were in a terrible
location, and made installing our Radeon 9700 Pro a chore,
because they were draped directly over the AGP slot.
It was nothing some wire-ties and "creative routing"
couldn't fix, but we hope this is the next area where
Shuttle improves their XPC line. Why they don't use
flat ribbon cables, routed under the motherboard is beyond
me. The power supply cabling was a bit messy as well,
but in the end there was nothing we couldn't clean up with a
Limited, but Good Enough
The SN41G2 is equipped
with a fairly complete Award / Phoenix v.6.00G BIOS.
From within the BIOS, users have complete control over
all of the system's integrated components and even
have a few options for tweaking system performance.
The most configurable component has got to be the
integrated graphics processor. There are toggles
for setting the IGP's frame buffer size (up to 128MB),
AGP aperture, AGP8X support and Fast Write
capabilities. There are some useful tools in the
PC Health Section of the BIOS also. The 80mm
exhaust fan throttles up or down based on the internal
system temperature. The temperature at which the
fan speed changes can be specified. A system
shut-down temperature can also be set within the PC
Health section of the BIOS. User's also have the
ability to tweak memory timings, to eek every last bit
of performance from the system.
The SN41G2's BIOS is
lacking any significant overclocking options.
The CPU's Front Side Bus (FSB) can be set to any speed
between 100MHz and 200MHz, in 1MHz increments, but
there are no voltage tweaks available at all. We
tried to overclock our Athlon XP 2700+ by raising the
FSB and sadly were only able to hit a 170MHz FSB, a
meager 4MHz increase for a top CPU speed of only
2210GHz. Heat is definitely a consideration with
these tiny enclosures though, so overclocking with
them is not a great idea. Hardcore overclockers
should definitely look elsewhere.
NVIDIA's Control Panels
Full Featured Audio
NVIDIA has earned a
reputation for developing some of the best video
drivers in the business. They seem to have given
the same attention to the audio drivers used with the
MCP-T. The integrated GeForce 4 graphics
processor uses the same Detonator drivers as NVIDIA's
line of add-in video boards, so we won't bore you with
any screenshots. What you may not have seen
before are NVIDIA's audio control panels.
Pictured above are the six main sections of MCP-T
audio drivers. As you can see, the controls are
well laid out and very complete. There are a
wide range of selectable speaker configurations, and
surround sound settings. A quick listening
session with a set of Logitech Z-680s proved audio
output was very good, rivaling every other integrated
solutions out there. It wasn't quite on par with
an Audigy 2, but output was still very good.
Unless you have the need for high-end audio recording,
you won't have to substitute an add-in sound card for