Shuttle’s XPC SP35P2 Pro SFF barebones system

Manufacturer Shuttle
Model XPC SP35P2 Pro
Price (Street)
Availability Now

Intel’s P35 Express has reigned as the enthusiast chipset of choice for Core 2 processors since its introduction last May, and for good reason. The P35 delivers a fantastic combination of performance, features, and overclocking potential with a low enough price tag to allow for a wide range of affordable motherboards. But what if you desire a system smaller than your average mid tower or even Micro ATX enclosure?

Then you’ll probably be eyeing something like Shuttle’s XPC SP35P2 Pro. Built on a small form factor P2 chassis that Shuttle has been tweaking for years, the SP35P2 packs a P35 chipset, four DIMM slots, two hard drive bays, and support for double-wide graphics cards into an enclosure not much larger than a shoebox. There’s even an integrated fingerprint reader, and in defiance of the system’s proportions, ample options for overclocking.

On features and specifications alone, the SP35P2 is easily the most interesting small form factor system for PC enthusiasts—not that there are many to choose from these days. The question, then, is how the SP35P2 stacks up against its full-sized ATX counterparts. Read on to see what, if anything, Shuttle has compromised to bring the P35 Express to market in a small form factor system.

P2 with a twist

The SP35P2’s defining characteristic is its form factor. Measuring 325mm long, 210mm wide, and 220mm tall (12.8″ x 8.3″ x 8.7″ for the metric-impaired), Shuttle’s P2 chassis is significantly smaller than the average mid-tower enclosure. However, as we’ll see in a moment, the P2’s dimensions aren’t so diminutive that they severely limit the system’s hardware compatibility and expansion capacity.

First, though, a look at the SP35P2 from the outside. Just marvel at its, um, blackness. To be fair, there are three shades on display: glossy black plastic that frames the front face, brushed metal on the front panel and drive bay doors, and a painted aluminum skin. The contrasting textures play off each other nicely, creating a classy and understated aesthetic.

However, as refined as the SP35P2 looks, there’s really nothing new here. We’ve seen very similar designs from Shuttle over the last few years, and while there’s something to be said for consistency, it would be nice to see the XPC barebones line get a breath of fresh artistic flair. Give me some racing stripes, a splash of color, polka dots—anything to break through the bleakness of years of all-black XPCs.

To Shuttle’s credit, the bleak blackness is complete, unpolluted by beige expansion drives or a messy array of expansion ports. Stealthy doors hide access to the XPC’s external 5.25″ and 3.5″ expansion bays and its front port cluster. The optical drive bay door is particularly slick, with an adjustable remote ejection button and spring-loaded panel that opens and closes automatically with tray-loading optical drives. Slot-loading drives need not apply, however.

Along the bottom edge of the system’s front face we find a smattering of expansion ports that includes a couple of USB jacks, Firewire connectivity, microphone and headphone jacks, and even a buried reset button.

Way over to the left next to the reset button resides a fingerprint scanner. The reader is similar to what we saw used in A-Data’s FP1 fingerprint flash drive. With software Shuttle includes on the SP35P2’s driver CD, one can set up the fingerprint scanner to be used in lieu of a password for Windows login.

Around the back, the SP35P2 shows off a wide selection of forward-looking expansion ports that are, well, facing backwards. Notably missing are serial, parallel, and PS/2 ports. The omission of the latter will be the most controversial, but with even old-school clickety clack keyboards available with USB connectors, there’s little reason to preserve PS/2.

Shuttle balances the lack of legacy connectivity with all sorts of new hotness, including dual eSATA ports connected to the system’s ICH9R south bridge, six USB ports, Firewire, and an Ethernet jack powered by a Marvell 88E8056 Gigabit chip. We also find a wide range of analog and digital audio ports all connected to the system’s 8-channel Realtek ALC888 HD audio codec chip.

Quality integrated audio is particularly important for small form factor systems whose limited expansion capacity often precludes the use of discrete sound cards. In this case, we would have preferred to see Shuttle opt for the ALC888’s more voluptuous cousin, the ALC888DD, which can output multi-channel audio over a single digital cable through either DTS or Dolby Digital Live. Shuttle does deserve credit for equipping the SP35P2 with both coaxial and TOS-Link flavors of digital output, though.

Diving inside

Digging deeper into the XPC chassis is easy; unscrew four thumbscrews, and the enclosure’s outer skin slides off to reveal its internals.

From above, the first thing we see is a pair of 3.5″ drive bays primed for Serial ATA hard drives. Shuttle does all the cable routing for you, ensuring the SATA power and data cables are exactly where you need them. However, we should note that due to how the cages are designed, only SATA drives are supported. In fact, you have to use the SATA power connector rather than the alternative four-pin molex power connector that’s available on some drives.

Screws hold the drive bays in place, which is a bit of a step back for Shuttle. The original P-series chassis used tool-free drive bays that snapped in place using plastic clips. Screws aren’t really a hassle, but it’s always nice to work on a system without having to bust out any tools.

Once we remove the hard drive bays, the XPC’s lower drive cage can be extracted. This houses the external 3.5″ and 5.25″ drive bays. The former is perfect for a zillion-in-one card reader or, if you’re feeling really nostalgic, a floppy drive.

Around the right-hand side of the system we catch our first glimpse of a new array of heatpipes and passive cooling elements that cover the XPC’s chipset and voltage regulation circuitry. Not even Shuttle is immune to the heatpipe trend that has gripped enthusiast motherboards, and given the XPC’s cramped internals, a little additional cooling certainly can’t hurt.

From this side we also have access to the system’s PCI and PCI Express x16 slots. The x16 slot is on the outside, so if you’re willing to sacrifice PCI connectivity, you can squeeze in a double-wide graphics card. Even the beefy GeForce 7900 GTX will fit, although it’s a tight squeeze.

The problem isn’t the location of the slot, but the mass of cabling that extends up from the motherboard to the power supply and rest of the chassis. I had to fiddle with the wires to flatten them out a little before a double-wide graphics card would fit inside the chassis, and even then there was plenty of direct contact between the wires and the graphics card’s cooler shroud. You’ll want to be careful to ensure that there are no errant wires that could get caught in your graphics card’s cooling fan.

Speaking of being careful, watch the motherboard when installing graphics cards. Larger cards are a tight squeeze, and you don’t want the PCI back plate to dig into the surface of the motherboard as you slide it into place. Shuttle put a piece of plastic next to the PCIe x16 slot to protect the motherboard in older XPC systems, but that protective plastic is nowhere to be found on the SP35P2.

Spinning XPC to the left we find a quartet of DIMM slots. Memory expansion capacity hasn’t been compromised here, with the system supporting up to 8GB of DDR2 memory. There’s even enough clearance for Corsair’s taller Dominator memory modules.

Just above the DIMM slots is the SP35P2’s power supply. This unit is rated for up to 120W across its 3V and 5V rails, up to 360W across its dual 12V lines, and 400W of maximum power output. One six-pin PCI Express connector is included for power-hungry graphics cards, as well.

To get at the CPU socket, we have to remove the XPC’s ICE cooler and swing wide a plastic mount that holds an 80mm intake fan in place. Processor installation is still a little tight, but that can’t be avoided in an enclosure this small. In fact, of all the small form factor chassis we’ve worked with, the P-series is easily the friendliest when it comes to poking around.

Cool as ICE

Cooling the SP35P2’s CPU is Shuttle’s venerable ICE heatsink, which has essentially maintained the same design since the P-series chassis was introduced years ago. The cooler’s heatpipes and towering radiator wall can actually be traced back to the coolers used in Shuttle’s earlier G-series chassis.

The ICE cooler hardly needs an update, though. Cool air is drawn in from the left-hand side of the chassis and blown over the radiator wall before it’s expelled from the case with a little help from a 60mm fan mounted directly to the heatsink. In the SP35P2, this exhaust air also blows over the heatsink covering the motherboard’s power regulation circuitry before it finally exits the case through generous side vents.

Attaching the cooler to the motherboard requires a screwdriver, but it’s a pretty simple affair. The screws are also tapped so you can’t overtighten them.

Beneath the heatsink we find a copper base with four heatpipes snaking out to the radiator wall. The fan is powered by a four-pin header that enables linear fan speed ramping. This capability allows the fan to ramp RPMs smoothly rather than annoyingly oscillating between high and low speed settings.

Shuttle’s XPCs have always been the quietest small form factor systems on the market, and the SP35P2 is no exception. That should be expected, of course, since the system doesn’t introduce any new active cooling elements. Only the motherboard’s passive heatpipe cooler is new, and it doesn’t make any noise at all. Overall, the SP35P2 maintains noise levels comparable to those of my largely silent workstation, which sits inside an Antec Sonata II enclosure.

XPC Tools

One of the keys to the SP35P2’s relative silence is the system’s excellent fan speed control mechanism. There are three groups of fans in total: one to handle intake, one for exhaust, and a third set that blows air over the hard drives.

These fans, in addition to system temperatures and voltages, can all be monitored with Shuttle’s XPC Tools software. Curiously, though, the version of XPC Tools that came with our SP35P2 didn’t report a motherboard temperature.

Unlike the hardware monitoring utilities bundled with some motherboards, XPC Tools uses a simple interface that focuses more on fan speed control than overclocking or other tasks. Users can control all sorts of fan speed control variables, including how aggressively fan speeds ramp and at which temperatures.

Overclocking almost feels like an afterthought here, with users only given control over the front-side bus speed. Control over the CPU multiplier and system voltages isn’t provided, despite the fact that it looks like the latter could be supported by the app.

BIOS options

If you really want to overclock the SP35P2, you’ll need to drop into the BIOS. Fortunately, Shuttle has provided all sorts of options to play with, including full control over DDR2 memory timings alongside a host of bus speed, multiplier, and voltage options.


Bus speeds
FSB: 333-600MHz in
1MHz increments

PCIe: 100-200MHz in 1MHz increments

DRAM: 667, 800, 1067MHz


Bus multipliers
CPU: 6x-8x (Core
2 Duo E6750)
Voltages CPU: +0.01-0.5V in 0.01V increments

DRAM: 1.8-2.5V in 0.025V increments

FSB: 1.25-1.35V in 0.05V increments
NB
: 1.3-1.4V in 0.05V increments

SB(1.5):
1.55-1.65V in 0.05V increments


SB(1.05): 1.10-1.20V in 0.05V increments


Monitoring
Voltage, fan
status, and temperature monitoring

Fan speed control
CPU, chassis

The P35 Express chipset technically only supports front-side bus speeds up to 333MHz, but if you want to run a QX9770, you can push the FSB to 400MHz in the BIOS. And it’s stable, too, but more on overclocking a little later. One thing that may hinder bus speed tweaking is the BIOS’s relatively short list of memory speed options. We’d prefer to see more variety here, ideally explicit control over a broader range of memory bus dividers.

Things look pretty good on the voltage front. Although processor overvolting is limited to half a volt, you wouldn’t want to pump more juice into a chip running in such a small enclosure. Memory voltage options up to 2.5V should cover most of the swanky DIMM spectrum, as well, equipping the XPC for all but the most extreme overclocking endeavors.

Additional fan speed control options are also available in the BIOS, although these are a little more limited than what’s provided through XPC tools. Notably missing is control over threshold temperatures and ramping ratios. Both would be nice to have, particularly for those running alternative operating systems that won’t have access to XPC Tools, which is Windows-only.

Specifics on specifications

An XPC review wouldn’t be complete without a quick look at the system’s spec sheet.


CPU support
LGA775-based
Celeron, Pentium 4/D, Core 2 processors

North bridge
Intel P35 Express

South bridge
Intel ICH9R

Interconnect
DMI (2GB/s)

Expansion slots
1 PCI
Express x16
1 32-bit/33MHz PCI

Memory
4 240-pin DIMM
sockets

Maximum of 8GB of DDR2-667/800/1066 SDRAM


Storage I/O
Floppy disk

1 channel ATA/100

4 channels 300MB/s Serial ATA with RAID 0, 1, 10, 5 support

Audio 8-channel HD audio
via ICH9R and Realtek ALC888 codec
Ports 8 USB
2.0 with headers for 2 more


1 RJ45 10/100/1000 via Marvell 88E8056

2 1394a
Firewire via Texas Instruments TSB43AB22A

2 eSATA


1 analog front out

1 analog bass/center out

1 analog rear out

1 analog surround out

1 analog headphone out

1 analog mic in
1 analog line in
1 digital
coaxial S/PDIF
output

1 digital TOS-Link S/PDIF
output

1 digital TOS-Link S/PDIF
input

We’ve covered most of the interesting bits already, but there are a couple of stragglers worth pointing out. First, note that the SP35P2’s Marvell 88E8056 Gigabit Ethernet chip uses a PCI Express interface, so it won’t be forced to share limited PCI bus bandwidth with other devices—not that the XPC’s single PCI slot leaves much room for conflict on that bus. The system’s Texas Instruments Firewire chip is PCI-based, though. That about rounds up all the scandalous details we can pry from the spec sheet, so it’s on to benchmarks.

Our testing methods

To see how the SP35P2 stacks up against a wide range of systems, we’ve assembled a motley crew of contenders based on Intel’s P35 and X38 Express chipsets and Nvidia’s nForce 680i and 780i. Two of our Intel platforms are using DDR3 memory while the rest are equipped with DDR2.

All tests were run three times, and their results were averaged.

Processor

Core 2 Duo E6750 2.67GHz
System bus 1333MHz (333MHz
quad-pumped)

Motherboard


Asus P5K3 Deluxe
Asus P5E3 Deluxe
WiFi-AP @n


Gigabyte GA-X38-DQ6


Shuttle XPC SP35P2 Pro


Gigabyte GA-P35-DQ6


EVGA 122-CK-NF68


XFX nForce 780i SLI
Bios revision 0604 0201 F5a SP35S10Q F6 31 2.053.B0

North bridge
Intel P35 Express Intel X38 Express Intel X38 Express Intel P35 Express Intel P35 Express Nvidia nForce 680i
SLI SPP
Nvidia nForce 780i SLI SPP

South bridge
Intel ICH9R
Intel ICH9R
Intel ICH9R Intel ICH9R Intel ICH9R Nvidia nForce 680i
SLI MCP
Nvidia nForce 780i SLI MCP
Chipset drivers Chipset 8.3.1.1009

AHCI 7.6.0.1011

Chipset 8.3.1.1009

AHCI 7.6.0.1011

Chipset 8.3.1.1009

AHCI 7.6.0.1011

Chipset 8.3.1.1009

AHCI 7.6.0.1011

Chipset 8.3.1.1009

AHCI 7.6.0.1011

nForce 15.08 ForceWare 9.46
Memory size 2GB (2 DIMMs)
2GB (2 DIMMs)
2GB (2 DIMMs) 2GB (2 DIMMs) 2GB (2 DIMMs) 2GB (2 DIMMs) 2GB (2 DIMMs)

Memory type


Corsair CM3X1024-1066C7 DDR3 SDRAM
at 1066MHz


Corsair TWIN2X2048-8500C5 DDR2 SDRAM
at 800MHz
CAS latency
(CL)
7
7
4 4 4 4 4
RAS to CAS
delay (tRCD)
7
7
4 4 4 4 4
RAS precharge
(tRP)
7
7
4 4 4 4 4
Cycle time
(tRAS)
21
21
12 12 12 12 12

Audio codec
Integrated
ICH9R/AD1988B with 7.0.0.0 drivers
Integrated
ICH9R/AD1988B with 5.10.1.6110 drivers
Integrated
ICH9R/ALC899A with 1.78 drivers
Integrated
ICH9R/ALC888DD with 1.78 drivers
Integrated
ICH9R/ALC889A with 1.78 drivers
Integrated
nForce 680i/ALC885 with 1.78 drivers
Integrated
nForce 670i/ALC888S with 1.78 drivers
Graphics

GeForce 7900 GTX 512MB PCI-E
with ForceWare 163.69 drivers
Hard drive
Western Raptor X 150GB
OS

Windows Vista Ultimate x86
with KB936710, KB938194, KB938979, KB940105
updates

Thanks to Corsair for providing us with memory for our testing.

With the exception of the XPC, which has its own integrated PSU, all of our test systems were powered by OCZ GameXStream 700W power supply units. Thanks to OCZ for providing these units for our use in testing.

Finally, we’d like to thank Western Digital for sending Raptor WD1500ADFD hard drives for our test rigs. The Raptor’s still the fastest all-around drive on the market, and the only 10K-RPM Serial ATA drive you can buy.

We used the following versions of our test applications:

The test systems’ Windows desktop was set at 1280×1024 in 32-bit color at an 85Hz screen refresh rate. Vertical refresh sync (vsync) was disabled for all tests.

All the tests and methods we employed are publicly available and reproducible. If you have questions about our methods, hit our forums to talk with us about them.

Memory performance

The SP35P2 just edges out Gigabyte’s DDR2-based P35 board in our Sandra memory bandwidth tests, putting it a little behind some of the other contenders. Shuttle holds this third-last position through our memory latency tests, again neck-and-neck with Gigabyte’s full-sized P35 board.

Memory controllers don’t always handle four DIMMs gracefully, so we popped an additional two memory modules into each system for another round of tests. In these tests, we had to back off to a 2T command rate for the nForce and DDR3-equipped X38 systems. This is a common adjustment for four-DIMM configurations.

The XPC moves up the standings a little with four DIMMs installed, and in the memory bandwidth test, it’s not far off the lead. However, the SP35P2 still pulls up five nanoseconds short of the nForce platforms in our memory latency test.

Worldbench

WorldBench uses scripting to step through a series of tasks in common Windows applications. It then produces an overall score. WorldBench also spits out individual results for its component application tests, allowing us to compare performance in each. We’ll look at the overall score, and then we’ll show individual application results alongside the results from some of our own application tests.

We ran into a curious issue with the latest version of WorldBench when testing our P35 system with DDR2 memory. In the first run, the system posted a score in the WinZip test that matched our expectations given the scores of the other systems. However, subsequent test runs registered WinZip test times that were 20% faster than the first run. This behavior wasn’t consistent with that of the other systems, despite the fact that each starts testing with a fresh hard drive image. We suspect Windows Vista’s intelligent disk caching may be responsible for the faster scores, so we’ve reported the results of the first WorldBench test run for the P35 DDR2 config below.

Shuttle finds itself in the middle of the pack in WorldBench, again tying our full-sized P35 platform. All the systems are pretty close here, with three others sharing the same score as the XPC.

Gaming

Game performance tends to be bound by a system’s graphics card, and the SP35P2 shows no weakness here. The XPC’s only gaming liability is the difficulty of squeezing a double-wide video card into the chassis.

Power consumption

We measured system power consumption, sans monitor and speakers, at the wall outlet using a Watts Up Pro power meter. Power consumption was measured at idle and under a load consisting of a multi-threaded Cinebench 10 render running in parallel with the “rthdribl” high dynamic range lighting demo.

Since the XPC uses a much smaller motherboard and a different power supply than the other systems, its power consumption results aren’t directly comparable. However, it’s nice to see the SP35P2 pulling so few watts at idle. Load power draw is a little higher than one might expect, but that’s likely due to the XPC’s 400W power supply having to work much harder than the 700W unit that’s powering the other test systems.

Overclocking

For our overclocking tests, we dropped our CPU multiplier to 6X—its lowest possible value. The memory bus was also dropped to 667MHz, again the lowest value available. This setting uses a 1X divider that keeps the memory bus speed in step with the front-side bus. Keep in mind, of course, that memory speed is often expressed as twice the actual memory bus speed to take DDR’s double data rate into account. You can learn more about the intricacies of Core 2 overclocking in our handy guide to the subject.

With our system’s processor and memory taken out of the equation as much as the BIOS allows, we turned our attention to the front-side bus, cranking it faster and testing stability with a combined load of Prime95 and the rthdribl HDR lighting demo along the way.

Eventually, we hit a wall at 470MHz. The XPC was perfectly stable that that speed, but 480MHz wouldn’t get through the POST process, even with extra voltages applied all around.

470MHz isn’t the highest overclock we’ve seen from the P35 chipset, but it’s close, and very impressive from a small form factor system with necessarily cramped internals. The SP35P2 certainly appears to have enough front-side bus headroom to exploit the latent overclocking potential lurking in most of Intel’s current Core 2 chips. Of course, as is always the case with overclocking, your mileage may vary.

Motherboard peripheral performance

To provide a closer look at the peripheral performance you can expect from the SP35P2, we’ve complied Ethernet, USB, Firewire, Serial ATA, and Audio performance results below. You’ll notice that there isn’t much variance from one system to another, but there are a few things worth pointing out. The XPC is highlighted and in bold to make it easier to pick out from the crowd.

NTttcp Ethernet
performance

Throughput (Mbps)

CPU utilization
(%)

Asus P5E3 Deluxe
WiFi-AP @n (RTL8169)
728.961 14.47

Asus P5E3 Deluxe
WiFi-AP @n (88E8056)
942.923 15.96

Asus P5K3 Deluxe
(RTL8187)
716.975 17.06

Asus P5K3 Deluxe
(88E8056)
938.913 15.38

EVGA 122-CK-NF68
(nForce 680i SLI 1)
946.448 21.56

EVGA 122-CK-NF68
(nForce 680i SLI 2)
835.589 21.75

Gigabyte
GA-P35-DQ6 (RTL8111B)
938.625 13.03

Gigabyte
GA-X38-DQ6 (RTL8111B 1)
940.481 15.58

Gigabyte
GA-X38-DQ6 (RTL8111B 2)
940.772 15.97

Shuttle XPC SP35P2
Pro
940.286
16.32

XFX nForce 780i
SLI (nForce 680i SLI 1)
946.448 21.56

XFX nForce 780i
SLI (nForce 680i SLI 2)
835.589 21.75

GigE performance looks good thanks to the PCIe-based Marvell 88E8056.

HD Tach USB
performance

Read burst

speed (MB/s)


Average read

speed (MB/s)


Average write

speed (MB/s)


CPU utilization

(%)


Asus P5E3 Deluxe
WiFi-AP @n

33.9

32.5

30.2

4.7

Asus P5K3 Deluxe
33.9 32.5 26.2 5.7

EVGA 122-CK-NF68
33.9 32.6 32.4 4.3

Gigabyte
GA-P35-DQ6
33.9 32.6 27.4 3.0

Gigabyte
GA-X38-DQ6
33.9 32.6 30.1 9.0

Shuttle XPC SP35P2
Pro
33.9 32.6
28.7

6.7

XFX nForce 780i
SLI
34.3 32.6 32.4 4.3

The P35 Express chipset’s ICH9R doesn’t have the fastest USB controller around, but it’s quick enough on the XPC, with reasonable CPU utilization to boot.

HD Tach
Firewire performance

Read burst

speed (MB/s)


Average read

speed (MB/s)


Average write

speed (MB/s)


CPU utilization

(%)


Asus P5E3 Deluxe
WiFi-AP @n
42.0 37.5 28.7 1.0

Asus P5K3 Deluxe
42.4 37.5 28.7 0.3

EVGA 122-CK-NF68
30.5 28.5 14.4 0.3

Gigabyte
GA-P35-DQ6
42.3 37.6 28.7 1.3

Gigabyte
GA-X38-DQ6
42.1 37.4 28.7 2.0

Shuttle XPC SP35P2
Pro

30.5

28.8

17.3

2.0

XFX nForce 780i
SLI
42.1 37.4 21.7 2.7

Firewire, however, is a little slow.

HD Tach Serial
ATA performance

Read

burst

speed

(MB/s)


Average

read

speed

(MB/s)


Average

write speed

(MB/s)


CPU

utilization

(%)


Random

access

time

(ms)


Asus P5E3 Deluxe
WiFi-AP @n
133.4 78.0 101.3 3.0 8.2

Asus P5K3 Deluxe
133.4 78.0 104.7 3.7 8.3

EVGA 122-CK-NF68
128.1 78.0 94.4 2.3 7.9

Gigabyte
GA-P35-DQ6 (ICH9R)
134.5 78.0 100.5 3.3 8.3

Gigabyte
GA-P35-DQ6 (GSATA)
131.6 78.0 49.5 3.3 8.0

Gigabyte
GA-X38-DQ6
133.3 78.0 101.2 2.3 8.2

Shuttle XPC SP35P2
Pro

133.5

75.2

98.7

2.3

8.4

XFX nForce 780i
SLI
132.0 75.2 88.8 4.0 8.4

Nothing to see here. Move along.

RightMark Audio
Analyzer audio quality

Overall score

Frequency response

Noise level

Dynamic range

THD

THD + Noise

IMD + Noise

Stereo Crosstalk

IMD at 10kHz

Asus P5E3 Deluxe
WiFi-AP @n
3 5 1 1 3 1
3
3
3

Asus P5K3 Deluxe
4 5 3 3 3 1 3 4 3

EVGA 122-CK-NF68
3 5 1 3 3 1 3 3 3

Gigabyte
GA-P35-DQ6
4 5 3 3 3 1 3 4 3

Gigabyte
GA-X38-DQ6

4

5
1 1
3
1
3
3
3

Shuttle XPC SP35P2
Pro (front)


4


5

3

3


3

1


3

4


3

Shuttle XPC SP35P2
Pro (rear)


4


5

3

3


3

1


3

4


3

XFX nForce 780i
SLI

4

5
3 3
3
1
3
4
3

The SP35P2 maintains output quality parity between its front and rear audio outputs, which can’t be said for all XPCs. That’s a positive result, especially considering that the cube doesn’t score worse than any of our full-sized systems here.

Conclusions

The flurry of excitement that once permeated the small form factor market appears to have all but died, leaving Shuttle to carry what increasingly feels like a flickering torch. With so little competition in the market, the SP35P2 stands as one of very few small form factor systems even compatible with Intel’s Core 2 processors. In fact, much of the SP35P2’s competition comes not from other manufacturers, but from alternate models in Shuttle’s own XPC lineup.

This lack of competition could explain why the SP35P2 feels, well, a little mailed in. Shuttle has essentially plugged a new motherboard into an existing chassis, throwing some heatpipes and a fingerprint reader into the mix, but little else. The equation works—it’s one that’s been carefully tweaked for years now—but I can’t help but think that Shuttle could have been more innovative with the platform, the chassis, and even the look of its latest XPC.

Fortunately for Shuttle, the lack of competition in the small form factor space makes it easy to stand out even without wildly innovative ideas. If you’re looking at building a small form factor system based around one of Intel’s Core 2 processors, the XPC SP35P2 Pro should be at the very top of your (very short) list. With a proven P35 chipset, connectivity options galore, competitive performance, impressive overclocking potential, and a refined small form factor design that offers greater expansion capacity than most competitors, the SP35P2 is arguably the best XPC for PC enthusiasts. Even the system’s $400 street price is reasonable when you consider its size and the fact that you’re essentially getting a case, motherboard, and power supply all in one.

The SP35P2 isn’t perfect—internal cabling can make installing double-wide graphics cards a pain, and the whole all-black aesthetic is starting to get a little old—but it still outclasses all the other small form factor systems that have passed through our labs. That’s good enough to earn the SP35P2 our TR Recommended award.

Comments closed
    • azium
    • 13 years ago

    Yes the new 45nm cores work, but you have to flash the BIOS to version “O”. I have an E8200 running in mine.

    • Dissonance
    • 13 years ago

    test

    • roland
    • 13 years ago

    I wonder what version of XPC Tools you received. I have the same BIOS version (Q), but the only version of XPC Tools that is running on my SP35P2 is 1.7.1 and this is not showing any overclocking facilities. Al other versions I have do fail when started.

    • Kurlon
    • 13 years ago

    I wonder if the new 45nm process Core 2s will work in this rig…

    • eloj
    • 13 years ago

    105W idle?!

    20W for two drives, right? 14W max for CPU+MB, a few for one stick of RAM.

    I think my VIA C7-box will live to see another year. The consumption at idle just seems grotesque.

      • titan
      • 13 years ago

      You forgot the GPU which will run over 75W.

        • eloj
        • 13 years ago

        Don’t need a fancy “GPU” on a mostly headless linux server, but I saw nothing about integrated graphics on this one, so the question is how little you can get away with. Unfortunately no hardware sites ever review anything below midrange.

        Nor did we learn anything about running linux on this thing (sensors support, etc) come to think of it.

          • Damage
          • 13 years ago

          Here’s a review of the Radeon HD 2400 and 2600 series graphics cards, complete with power consumption data for the $47 Radeon HD 2400XT.

          §[<https://techreport.com/articles.x/12843<]§

          • titan
          • 13 years ago

          Well, this isn’t Phoronix. I don’t think Tech Report has ever included Linux compatibility in its reviews. Tech Report also does more than its fair share of low end systems/components reviews.

          This Shuttle doesn’t have integrated graphics. If you’ll read “Page 5 – Our testing methods”, you’ll find they used the same graphics card for all the systems, an Nvida 7900GTX 512MB.

    • Logdan
    • 13 years ago

    Is this a typo? Page 1…

    l[

    • oldDummy
    • 13 years ago

    Shuttle makes a pretty nice box. The SP35P2 looks like a roomy case for it’s size ..if that makes sense.
    I prefer the G chassis but would like a higher end chipset used. Currently using a SG31G2 with a Q6700 and a 8800GT. With the fan on auto it’s inaudiable at idle but runs warm at 49C [core0] with a slight OC to 3G [333 X 9]. The P2 has better cooling so would have a little better temp with the same parts. But it also has 5 fans vs 2 fans for the G.
    Small is good but smaller is better.

    • Semla
    • 13 years ago

    Is it just me, or is the conclusions under “Power consumption” completely off?

    “/[

      • titan
      • 13 years ago

      It is entirely possible that the PSU in the Shuttle is working hard than the PSU in the other systems. Also, having a smaller board does make a difference. Shorter traces require less power. Fewer components require power.

      Now, for what you say to be true, both the PSU in the Shuttle and the PSU in the other systems would have to have the exact same efficiency rating throughout their entire range. We both know that isn’t true. Just take a look at this article:
      §[<https://techreport.com/articles.x/13271<]§

      • cobalt
      • 13 years ago

      Yes, it’s usually a lower efficiency near zero % load. But keep in mind it’s also often a lower efficiency near 100% load — see how things drop off in those efficiency charts titan pointed to. I’m not asserting that this particular test is hitting this range for the Shuttle PSU, but it certainly is possible.

    • quarantined
    • 13 years ago

    I built a new system with an SP35P2 back in October when they first hit shelves.

    Specs:
    Q6600 OC to 2.9GHz
    2GB OCZ DDR-2 800
    8800GTS 640MB
    2x 500GB Caviar SE16
    Vista Home Premium

    It has been completely solid running f@h clients on all 4 cores nonstop. Only problem is that the system is loud under full load with the cpu and gpu both overclocked. Although I blame a lot of the fan noise on the Q6600 being a B3 stepping. I might swap it out for a Q9450 if it proves worthwhile (and if there’s a bios update to support the 45nm chips).

    • BeowulfSchaeffer
    • 13 years ago

    Yawn…. The only really interesting thing Shuttle has is the X series. The X100H is the best thing they have going.

    • eitje
    • 13 years ago

    I miss the G5 chassis. 🙁

    My favorite computer ever has been the SD11G5, with its external PSU and monster exhaust fan. I can build one to LITERALLY be whisper-quiet. If they were going to take a SFF and just update the motherboard, it should have been an SD11G5! 😛

    • mortifiedPenguin
    • 13 years ago

    Maybe i just missed it in the article, but how are the thermals in this thing?

      • titan
      • 13 years ago

      Nope, you didn’t miss it. Technically, I didn’t miss it either until you mentioned something.

    • ssidbroadcast
    • 13 years ago

    A p35 based shuttle? I thought TR already did this one.

    • danny e.
    • 13 years ago

    can we get decibel readings on the noise level.
    “quiet” by my definition may be different than yours.. or vice versa.

    i suspect quiet by your definition means quiet… especially considering the mention of the sonata II system. however, it would still be nice to see some numbers.

    i’m actually starting to consider one of these systems as a backup pc… tired of all my huge cases all over the place.

      • Voldenuit
      • 13 years ago

      Seconded.

      Would like to know how quiet this thing is, especially since a SFF is more likely to be sitting next to you on the desk than on the floor.

      Otherwise, it looks like a great barebones. Good job on the review, TR!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This