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Breaking into the Intel SFF Market with Shuttle, Soltek and ABIT - Conclusions

In the first of our looks at the increasingly popular Small Form Factor (SFF) systems, we focus our attention on Intel Pentium 4 based platform systems from Shuttle, Soltek and ABIT.

| SFF PCs in Computer Systems | Posted: Feb 29, 2004 5:00 am

Conclusions

 

- Shuttle ST61G4 Conclusion

 

Shuttle set the standard in the SFF market and while they are still the original, they may longer be the absolute best now to a certain degree. Shuttle is still at the computer only stage; such companies like MSI and ABIT have began to concentrate on the Home Entertainment PC market. If Shuttle put their heads together there is no doubt that they could release a very competitive system with remote, LCD and anything else that makes a good HT computer. All XPC systems are built so well and is one of the best to work with but they haven't changed much over the past 12 months. While they have done little tweaks with the case, there isn't anything huge that has changed.

 

We think its time Shuttle capitalized on their market position and introduced a whole bunch of new features like we mentioned to secure their hold on their market share as companies such as MSI and ABIT are trying to step in on the action and are already doing a fairly good job at it. We hope Shuttle doesn't get left behind in the game.

 

The Shuttle ST61G4 is a great system and thanks to the ATI RS300 chipset you are going to be getting the best onboard video if you're not in the market to purchase a graphics cards at the same time which can be quite costly.

 

If you're a bit worried about the scores on this unit not being as fast as the other two SFF systems, we wouldn't recommend you be too worried. Shuttle also has an excellent Springdale model that we have looked at in the past and been very impressed with.

 

- Pros

 

The smallest SFF out of the three

 

Shuttle has set the standard in SFF

 

Onboard ATI graphics are a lot better than Intel's Extreme Graphics 2

 

Excellent cooling

 

Mirror Finish Front, looks very nice

 

- Cons

 

ATI chipset needs time to mature for better performance

 

Nothing really new that stands out from XPC's in the past 12 months

 

Rating - 8.5 out of 10

 

- Soltek QBIC Conclusion

 

Soltek have only just entered the SFF market and have a few different models available all using the same chassis. The unit is a lot bigger then the others but does offer the best cooling solution. This particular model used the Springdale-G chipset which brings with it all the features you would want out of a computer. With this unit being so large when compared to the Shuttle XPC, you can also run multiple hard drives and CDROM's without any concern of data corruption since air flow is greater inside the Soltek QBIC.

 

Overall we have a fairly good system that is priced quite competitively. It's not going to be for everyone and the mirror front picks up marks very easy in no time at all.

 

Soltek have done a good job for there first unit but we feel that over time they can make little improvements to help reduce the size a bit and add new features to standard up against the likes of MSI and ABIT who are making big inroads for the HTPC user.

 

Soltek should be congratulated for an overall solid SFF system but we really need some new features to make it a little more exciting.

 

- Pros

 

Good Performance

 

Lots of room inside to work with

 

Room for a full size Intel HSF

 

You can run two hard drives without any concern of data corruption due to extra air flow

 

- Cons

 

Maybe a bit too big

 

Not the most attractive when sitting next to Shuttle and ABIT

 

Rating - 8 out of 10

 

- ABIT DigiDice Conclusion

 

The DigiDice is an excellent unit and it is truly hard to believe that this is ABIT's first attempt at an SFF product. The only real gripe with the system is once you install everything, if you need to get to your memory or processor, the whole top part has to be removed. A total of 8 screws have to be unscrewed to get to the components. Maybe ABIT could look into a clip system that makes the removable of the drives easier like Shuttle has mastered with their XPC systems.

 

The system is very fast, comes with a good package including a bag to move it around and some software that is used in conjunction with the remote control so you can play music and DVDs with ease.

 

The ABIT DigiDice is a beautiful system that we would recommend to people in a heartbeat. You've got it right the very first time ABIT.

 

- Pros

 

LCD is sensational

 

Remote control adds another level to the system

 

Great Performance

 

Looks truly fantastic

 

Priced very well considering the vast amount of features

 

Stylish carry bag

 

The ability to run two hard drives with the current cooling system

 

- Cons

 

Once everything is installed you don't want to have to pull something else out

 

Rating - 9.5 out of 10 and TweakTown's "MUST HAVE" Editor's Choice Award

 

 

 

 

Find the lowest price on Small Form Factor based Products!

 

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