Setup & Quality
the Shuttle SS50 up and running was quick and "almost"
painless. The beauty of a barebones system like
this one, is that mounting your drives and inserting
your CPU and memory is all that needs to be done, to
build a semi-functional system. The last step is
obviously installing your operating system, but if
you're not capable of doing that, it's not Shuttle's
job to help you! I say the installation was
"almost" painless because, with my large hands, I
found it a bit difficult to install the CPU, cooler
and memory. Also, to keep air circulating
throughout the tiny case, and to not have cables
rubbing against the CPU cooler, you'll have to master
the art of origami with the IDE and Floppy drive
cables! To make installing the CPU and memory
easier, I completely removed the power supply and
drive rack, but even then there were some contortions
involved. Routing cables was another chore, but
they were just the right length to fit cleanly around
the internal edges of the system.
once the operating system is configured, there are
some drivers that need to be installed for optimal
performance as well. The included CD-ROM has all
the software you'll need to get the complete
assortment of the on-board components working under
Windows. We were initially disappointed with the
video and AGP drivers that came with the SS50 though.
The video drivers are very "plain vanilla", offering
no tweaking options whatsoever. The included AGP
drivers were also a bit outdated, and Shuttle's site
didn't offer anything newer. Luckily the
Taiwanese SiS website had some updated video and AGP
drivers, that improved performance significantly and
gives users the ability to tweak gamma and some other
really compulsive people (like myself!), will love the
silver look of the SS50, but will dislike the way
standard beige or black drives clash with the finish.
As you can see I decided to do something about it, and
painted our DVD and Floppy drives with metallic spray
paint! The colors don't match perfectly, but its
close enough for me! One other aspect of the
case worth mentioning is the extremely bright LEDs
used. The power and IDE activity LEDs on the
SS50 were so bright, they could LITERALLY act
as a night light in a dark room. The overall
construction of the case screams of quality. The
tight tolerances and well thought out header placement
prove Shuttle put serious thought into the design and
construction of this product. We wish they would
have used quieter fans though. The SS50 is not
as loud as the SV24, but it is still a bit more
obtrusive than we would have liked.
seen significant variations in benchmark scores from
one site to the next. Due to these variations,
we feel it is necessary to explain exactly how we
configure each test system before we run any
benchmarks. The first thing we did was enter the
system BIOS and set the board to it's "Optimized
Default" settings. Then we set the Memory CAS Latency
to 2 with a 1T command rate at a speed of 133MHz.
The hard drive was then formatted, and Windows XP
Professional was installed. After that we hit the
Windows Update site and downloaded all of the
available updates, with the exception of Windows
Messenger. Then we installed all of the necessary
drivers, removed Windows Messenger, disabled
Auto-Updating, disabled System Restore and set a 768MB
permanent swap file. Lastly, we set the Visual Effects
to "best performance", installed all of the
benchmarking software, defragged the hard drive and
ran all of the tests at both the CPU's default and
overclocked speeds. Now, for our results...
The Hot Hardware Test Systems
Little but mean!
Shuttle SS50 Barebones System
Intel Pentium 4 "Northwood" 2.2GHz. (2200MHz.)
256MB Corsair XMS PC2400 DDR RAM
Maxtor 20GB UDMA/100 7200 RPM Hard Drive
NEC 16X ATAPI DVD-ROM Drive
Standard 3.5" Floppy
Microsoft Windows XP Professional (With all current
SiS Video Drives (v2.05) - Included on Shuttle CD
SiS AGP Drivers (v1.08d) - Included on Shuttle
SiS Video Drivers
(v2.05a) - From SiS Website
SiS AGP Drivers (v1.09f) - From SiS Website
All other drivers
installed from included CD.
Performance With SiSoft Sandra 2002
I Have a Sister
Named Sandra! Coincidence? Perhaps!
SiSoftware's SANDRA (the System ANalyzer,
Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant)
is a very popular benchmarking, information and
diagnostic utility. We began our testing with
four of the built-in sub-system tests that are part of
SiSoftware's Sandra 2002 benchmarking suite, CPU,
Multimedia, Memory and File System, running at the
CPU's default clockspeed of 2200MHz. (22x100) and an
overclocked speed of 2420MHz. (22x110).
CPU @ 2.42GHz.
the SiS650 chipset motherboard used in the Shuttle
SS50 doesn't hold back CPU performance at all.
At both the default and overclocked speeds, the SS50
beat out all of SANDRA's reference systems.
Multimedia @ 2.42GHz.
more of the same as we moved onto the Multimedia
tests. Nothing in SANDRA's database was able to
keep up with the SS50. This is probably because
the fastest reference system was "only" a 2GHz.
has pointed out in a few of his Pentium 4 motherboard
reviews, performance with SiS IDE controllers seems to
fall a little short of competing solutions. A
score of about 20K, like we see above, isn't
necessarily bad, but this same Maxtor drive is capable
of much more. We haven't used this particular
drive in any other reviews, so we don't have any
baseline performance scores for it just yet, but as an
experiment I connected it to a High-Point HPT374
controller (on an Abit IT7 with the same CPU) and
broke 22K in this same test.
MEM @ 2.42GHz.
memory bandwidth test shows the SS50 performing
in-line with an Intel i845 board, using CL2 PC2100
RAM. We should mention that we were running with
the memory set to 133MHz. (143MHz. when overclocked),
using a 3:4 CPU to RAM speed ratio. Although not
officially supported, the BIOS does offer a 3:5 ratio
which would run the memory at 166MHz (DDR 333).
Unfortunately, at the time of testing, we did not have
any quality PC2700 DDR RAM in the lab that would run
reliably with the most aggressive memory timings at
166MHz. With "faster" memory installed, running
at a higher clockspeed, you could expect significantly
higher scores than the ones we have posted here.
More Performance With PC Mark 2002
CPU, MEM and
Next up we
have MadOnion's relatively new PCMark 2002
benchmarking suite. We ran PC Mark 2002's CPU,
Memory and Hard Drive performance modules, which
incorporate the following tests:
Test Technical details: (Quoted)
read, write, and read-modify-write operations are
performed starting from a 3072 kilobytes array
decreasing in size to 1536 KB, 384 KB, 48 KB and
finally 6 KB. Each size of block is tested two second
and the amount of accessed data is given as result. In
the STL container test a list of 116 byte elements is
constructed and sorted by an integer pseudo-random
key. The list is then iterated through as many times
as possible for 2 seconds and the total size of the
accessed elements is given as result. There are 6 runs
of this test, with 24576 items in the largest run
corresponding to a total data amount of 1536 KB,
decreasing in size to 12288 items (768 KB), 6144 items
(384 KB), 1536 items (96 KB), 768 items (48 KB) and 96
items in the smallest run corresponding to 6 KB of
PC Mark 2002 are competitive with other systems
configured with similar components, with the exception
once again being Hard Drive performance. The
SiS650 chipset is proving to be quite a decent
Some More Benchmarking and Final Thoughts