Shuttle ST61G4 XPC

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The Shuttle ST61G4 XPC - Page 3

kThe Shuttle ST61G4 XPC
ATi's Radeon 9100 IGP In Action...

By, Marco Chiappetta
January 26, 2004

To isolate CPU performance, we ran some low-resolution tests with Novalogic's Comanche 4 and Epic's Unreal Tournament 2003. We occasionally use these tests in our evaluation of 3D Graphics cards, but they are 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. To further isolate CPU performance, we also disabled audio in the Comanche 4 test.

Gaming Benchmarks With The ST61G4
Full Powered Gaming in a Tiny Box

The ST61G4 performed well in both tests, but it couldn't quite catch our i875P powered test system, regardless of whether or not we used the integrated graphics or a Radeon 9800 Pro.  The Radeon 9100 IGP completed both tests without a hitch, and posted a nice frame rate in the Unreal Tournament benchmark, but we were using very low-quality settings and the test was run at only 640x480.  In a more realistic gaming scenario (i.e. 1024x768 - Max Detail), UT frame rates would be much lower.  The Comanche 4 test is a bit more graphically intensive and as a result the IGP could only crank out 27+ frames per second.  With a Radeon 9800 Pro installed, performance in both benchmarks was much better, but the ST61G4 still lagged behind our Canterwood test system by about 7%.

"Real World" Application Benchmarks
The 2004 Versions Have Arrived

To test "real world" application performance, we used the latest version of ZD's Content Creation and Business Winstone 2004 Benchmarks.  To give you an idea as to how these benchmarks work, here's what eTesting Labs has to say about their performance metrics.

"Business Winstone is a system-level, application-based benchmark that measures a PC's overall performance when running today's top-selling Windows-based applications on Windows 2000 (SP2 or higher) 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. (The Content Creation benchmark uses the exact same process to derive a final score, but a different set of applications are tested.)"

Business Winstone Tests:
  • Microsoft Access 2002
  • Microsoft Excel 2002
  • Microsoft FrontPage 2002
  • Microsoft Outlook 2002
  • Microsoft PowerPoint 2002
  • Microsoft Project 2002
  • Microsoft Word 2002
  • Norton Antivirus Professional Edition 2003
  • WinZip 8.1
Content Creation Winstone Tests:
  • 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
  • NewTek's LightWave 3D 7.5b
  • Steinberg WaveLab 4.0f

In the Business Winstone test, the ST61G4 finished about 5% behind the i875P system.  Switching from the Radeon 9100 IGP to a Radeon 9800 Pro, impacted performance slightly, but if you're looking for a SFF PC to run some basic "office type" applications, there's no need to upgrade your graphics - the 9100 IGP performs quite well.  The same scenario played out in the Content Creation benchmark, but the performance delta between the i875P and ST61G4 was slightly smaller.

We have somewhat mixed feelings towards the ST61G4.  At $359 US ($369 for the black version), the ST61G4 is relatively expensive when compared to other small form factor systems.  It does have one of the most complete feature sets though, and the Radeon 9100 IGP is the most powerful integrated graphics processor currently available.  We're also very fond of the silver / mirrored G4 enclosure, but we feel the ST61G4's appeal isn't as broad as some other SFF systems out there.  If you're in the market for one of these mini-PCs, and don't plan to overclock and want to save a few dollars by using the integrated graphics, the ST61G4 is a fine choice.  It would make an excellent home theater PC and it's perfectly suited for the mainstream user who doesn't plan to do any serious gaming.  Hardcore enthusiasts and overclockers however, would be better served by an XPC powered by a different chipset.  The ATi RS300 chipset was very stable and performance wasn't bad by any means. Conversely, we think it's a revision or two away from being considered a true alternative to the i875 or i865, at least in our humble opinion.  It's priced a little high and its chipset is a bit immature, but based on its aesthetics, excellent feature set and top-notch integrated graphics, we're giving the Shuttle ST61G4 XPC a 7.5 on the HotHardware Heat Meter.

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