There are a few questions here that pop up:
- Did we expect it to beat the MAX3 in any of the benchmarks?
- Did we expect it to be so close to the MAX3?
Firstly, we did not expect the XPC to beat the MAX3 in any benchmarks. The MAX3 from ABIT is simply a faster motherboard and so it should be considering its using the faster Canterwood chipset. What did surprise was the fact that it was so close to the MAX3. Considering the price of the MAX3, for an extra couple of hundred dollars you could get yourself a nice XPC. Sure, it's not the best overclocker in the market and it does cater for a different market but at the end of the day it's going to be up to you what you want from a system and what you are prepared to spend.
One thing that differs from this XPC compared to some of the others we have seen is the decision to have the AGP slot on the outside compared to the inside. This prevents you from using a GeForce FX card that takes up two slots as it hangs to the left. Maybe we are seeing some plot against nVidia by Shuttle (or nothing at all, for the record!), I guess though we will never know, none the less all of the latest ATI cards won't have a problem fitting in snugly.
We have a fantastic little computer here that a lot of people will love. If you're someone who loves lots of hard drives you will quickly discover that the XPC won't fit your six hard drives pretty quickly - just like I did.
We can only assume that the Canterwood version of the XPC will be quicker and may be able to keep up if not pass the MAX3 from ABIT. Shuttle has been doing a lot with the XPC market lately and if Computex 2003 in Taiwan was anything to go by, we should be seeing a lot more exciting products from them in the near future as well as other manufacturing trying desperately to get themselves a piece of the pie.
Only at the last minute of writing this review did we receive the new BIOS from Shuttle and we had absolutely no luck with it. While memory performance was up everything else was down. The new BIOS doesn't change our opinion one bit on this excellent product though and we do recommend you keep the older one for the time being.
Excellent Performance (with older BIOS) from Springdale chipset
ATI video cards will fit
Built-in 802.11B wireless will be handy for some
New GeForce FX cards that take up two slots will not fit
Costly for some people
Only 802.11B wireless...but does it make a difference?
Only two hard drive spaces
New BIOS is far from a pro
Rating - 9 out of 10
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