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Shuttle's XPC SB61G2 mini-barebones system


Spring(dale) comes to Shuttle
— 1:34 AM on May 26, 2003

Manufacturer Shuttle
Model SB61G2
Price (street) US$350
Availability Now

CALL ME MELODRAMATIC, but it is my belief that the SB61G2 is the most important cube yet to come out of Shuttle. Sure, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking Vincent Vega: "That's a bold statement." True, but it's one I intend to back up. Shuttle has reached a new pinnacle in time to market with the SB61G2, and has also introduced the last big feature that hardcore enthusiasts have been waiting for in cube computers. Is the Shuttle SB61G2 the cube that should replace your hulking, noisy tower? Read on to find out.

Execution and overclocking
Previously, there has been some lag time between the introduction of a new chipset and its incorporation into an XPC model. With the SB61G2, Shuttle has shown a new commitment to cutting this lag time down to nearly nothing. The 865G chipset on which the SB61G2 is based was released less than a week ago. This is by far the shortest time between the release of a chipset and the release of a corresponding cube.

The second important news item here is the introduction of overclocking features into the Shuttle line. While it's true that previous cubes had features such as an adjustable bus speed, such items were of limited use because of a lack of corresponding tweaks like voltage adjustments and multiplier controls. The SB61G2 is the first Shuttle cube to come into our test labs with a full bevy of overclocking features, including front-side bus and multiplier adjustment, adjustable AGP/PCI speed, and adjustable core, memory, and AGP voltages.

The overclocking features are significant for the enthusiast community, because a large number of hardcore gearheads have said, "I'd have one of those for my main PC if I could just overclock with it." Now you can, and while we'll get into the details later, the short story is that most overclocking geeks will be quite satisfied with the SB61G2's offerings in this area.

The chipset innards: Intel's 865G
The source of a lot of the magic in the SB61G2 is Intel's brand-new 865G chipset. Those of you looking for an exhaustive treatise on the features of the Intel 865G chipset would do well to check out Damage's excellent article on the subject, but I'll hit the highlights here.

The 865G is the graphics-enabled member of the Chipset Family Formerly Known As Springdale. It features the second incarnation of Intel's Extreme Graphics, which for the purposes of 3D graphics are anything but. However, they should satisfy anyone who's not into 3D or CAD work, so if you're building a fast PC for Dad, and Dad doesn't play games, take note.

The big features from a performance standpoint would have to be support for an 800MHz front-side bus, dual-channel DDR400, and Hyper-Threading. In terms of high performance in Intel chipsets, the only thing hotter is the 875P and its Performance Acceleration Technology. Other notable features of the 865G include AGP 8X graphics and support for two Serial ATA channels, as well as support for eight USB 2.0 ports. Add it all up, and you've got a very fast, feature-laden chipset that should satisfy just about anyone.

Tech specs
What do you mean this wasn't here before? OK, fine, it wasn't. I initially neglected to include a tech specs section in this review, and once that fact was pointed out to me, I decided to rectify the problem. So here's a handy table on the SB61G2:

CPU support Socket 478-based Intel processors with 400/533/800MHz front-side bus
Form factor Flex ATX (Shuttle form factor)
Chipset Intel 865G
North bridge Intel 82865G MCH
South bridge Intel 82801EB ICH5
Interconnect Accelerated Hub (266MB/s)
PCI slots 1 32-bit/33MHz
AGP slots 4X/8X AGP
Memory 2 184-pin DIMM sockets
Maximum of 2GB of DDR200/266/333/400 SDRAM
Storage I/O Floppy disk
2 channels ATA/133
2 channels Serial ATA 150
Audio 6-channel audio via 865G ICH5 and RealTek ALC650 codec
Video Integrated Intel Extreme Graphics v2
Ports 1 PS/2 keyboard, 1 PS/2 mouse,
1 serial, 6 USB 2.0 (2 front, 4 rear), 2 IEEE 1394 (1 mini front, 1 rear), 1 RJ45 Ethernet via Realtek RTL8100B

1 DB15 VGA out

2 line out/front out (1 front, 1 rear), 1 rear out (rear),
1 bass/center out (rear), 1 mic in (front), 1 line in (front),
1 optical SPDIF out (rear), 1 optical SPDIF in (rear)

BIOS Award
Bus speeds 100-255MHz in 1MHz increments
(400-1020MHz quad pumped)
Monitoring Voltage, fan status, and temperature monitoring