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Shuttle nForce2 XPC - Future of SFF - Features

With the push towards the Small Form Factor PCs today its hard to choose from the lineup that is evergrowing. Shuttle started the SFF trend with the XPC line, and has continued to do so. Today Cameron "Sov" Johnson takes a look at the Shuttle SN41G XPC System. How does it fair? Take a look for yourself!

| SFF PCs in Computer Systems | Posted: Mar 25, 2003 5:00 am
TweakTown Rating: 1e+%Manufacturer: Shuttle

Features of the SN41G2

 

The Shuttle XPC comes in a cool retail packaging which some with a plastic carry handle on the top. This in very convenient as it can double as a carry bag for the system if you want to transport it to and from LAN parties.

 

Upon opening the package, we find the system to be neatly packed in foam spacers to prevent transport damage along with a few accessories. These accessories include a Standard Floppy disk cable, 1 IDE cable, TV Out cable, CPU shim, screws and 2 user manuals.

 

 

First off we take a look at the top and front of the XPC. Gone are the days of using plastic faceplates like with the original XPC. Shuttle has now gone with full aluminium plating, making the case look much better.

 

Like the front of the original XPCs, the front panel ports have remained the same. Located on the front. These ports include a SPDIF Out, Microphone, Headphones, 2 USB 2.0 ports and 1 Firewire port.

 

The LEDs one the case have been moved to directly above the front access ports, as have the buttons for the power and reset functions.

 

 

The back of the case is pretty well standard for the XPC line. Located on the right hand side is a small 40mm port for the vent fan for the 200w PSU. Just off to the left is a 80mm vent for the I.C.E cooling system to vent hot air from the inside the system. Just to the right of that are 2 full-sized expansion slots, 1 for a PCI card and 1 for an AGP card, this will be shown later on.

 

The interface ports are quite different compared to standard ATX layout. First you have two CRT monitor ports, that's right, two. Thanks to the Geforce4 MX video controller built into the Northbridge you get yourself nView support for two monitors simultaneously. Shuttle has taken full advantage of this and given two monitor ports, we don't see 2 CRT ports on video cards or other onboard video based board, well done Shuttle.

 

Next you get a standard serial port for connection of external modems and other serial devices like mice. Below the serial port is a TV out port for NTSC or PAL video output to TV. Next to the TV out ports are 2 Firewire ports. Thanks to the use of the nForce2 chipset Firewire is a standard feature of the Southbridge.

 

LAN and USB ports line up next to the Firewire ports. Again the nForce2 Southbridge comes with USB 2.0 ports and 10/100 network controller. Shuttle has not spared any expense in adding all that comes from the nForce2.

 

2 PS/2 Ports come next. Colour coded for the Keyboard and Mouse operations helps you located which port is which. While the push is to remove legacy ports from motherboards of the future it is good to see that PS/2 is still holding its ground.

 

Finally 3 Audio ports are provided for up to 6 channel speaker systems via the Soundstorm utility provided by nVidia.

 

 

Here we see the XPC with the lid removed. We see from the top image the access side of the XPC where you can get access to the PCI and AGP slots. The bottom image shows the opposite side. This shows the power supply mounted to the chassis.

 

 

Looking at the drive tray assembly we see that its design has several purposes. Its first and foremost duty is holding all drives. Secondly, the drive tray is also responsible for retaining any faceplates, which are used when a drive is not present. Given the fact that a number of cables would be passing alongside this part, a rubber stopper was provided to divert the cables away from the rough-edged corner of the tray. This unit has to be removed in order to gain access to the CPU socket and cooling system.

 

 

The Power supply for the XPC is a mere 200-Watt power supply. Now I know what a lot of you are thinking, AMD recommends a minimum of 300 or 350 watt PSU, how can this little demon do what some 300-watt PSUs can't? Taking a look at the specification for the model, we see that the power supply is made by a company called ACHME, the power supply proved to be ample enough and provided a strong signal throughout testing. No BSOD or random resets occurred even with heavy hardware installed and under extreme load.

 

The unit provides a standard 20 pin ATX connector as well as a 4-pin AUX12v connector. This is to provide the CPU with more amps than the 5v and 3.3v lines can give. 2 FDD connectors are provided, 1 for the obvious, a Floppy disk drive and 1 for a possible Radeon 9xxx classed video cards. 3 HDD power connectors are provided, 1 for a HDD, 1 for a CD drive and 1 spare for possibly GF FX video cards.

 

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