Single page Print

The specs
The SV24's specs are essentially those endowed upon it by its FV24 motherboard. For the record, here's the whole enchilada:

CPU support Socket 370-based processors
(Intel Pentium III, Celeron, VIA C3)
Form factor Flex ATX
Chipset VIA PL133 (VT8604 north bridge, VT82C686B south bridge)
Interconnect PCI (133MB/s shared)
PCI slots 1 (none shared)
AGP slots None
AMR/CNR slots None
Memory 2 168-pin DIMM sockets for up to 1GB of PC100 or PC133 SDRAM
Storage I/O Floppy disk
2 channels ATA-100
Ports 1 PS/2 keyboard, 1 PS/2 mouse,
1 serial, 1 parallel, 4 USB, 2 IEEE 1394,
2 line out, 2 line in for AC97 audio,
1 game port, 1 DB15 VGA connector, 1 S-Video, 1 composite video, 1 RJ-45 Ethernet
BIOS Award 6.0
Bus speeds 66/100/133MHz
Monitoring Voltage, fan status, and temperature monitoring
For those of you accustomed to reading TR's reviews of the latest and greatest hardware, the basic system specs here may look a little dated. That's to be expected, since the FV24 mobo is a year old, at least, by now. Still, in the realm of highly integrated motherboards, these specs aren't far off the mark. Most Celeron and Duron systems, plus many corporate desktop PCs, sport specifications very similar to these. Heck, nearly every Pentium III system in existence is no better than this one for the most part; even those with DDR SDRAM can't taken advantage of it because of the PIII's 133MHz front-side bus.

The biggest "gotcha" here is the SV24's integrated S3 Savage4 video. The Savage4 is pretty weak on its own, but in this integrated setup, the 3D chip has to share memory¬óand memory bandwidth¬ówith the CPU. That's a performance killer, no question about it.

Then again, the SV24 is more about utility than raw performance, and on the utility front, this thing delivers. Beyond the usual litany of capabilities provided by VIA's "super" south bridge I/O chip, the FV24 includes a RealTek 8139C 10/100Mbps LAN chip, a Chrontel CH7006C TV-out chip, and a Lucent FW323 Firewire chip. The SV24 has a single PCI slot, but given everything that's integrated onto the motherboard, you may find yourself not even needing the expansion slot. Shuttle includes a right-angle riser for the PCI slot, by the way, so those cards will fit into the box, even though they'll sit parallel to the motherboard.

WinXP's device manager shows a full run of system devices

Considering the possibilities
I found myself dreaming up possibilities for various specialized configurations, with the choice of PCI card determining the specialty. Shuttle has apparently done the same; they're now offering an SV24-based video monitoring system.

Other possibilities include a living room PC with a DVD drive and wireless USB controllers. The PCI slot could hold a wireless NIC card and stream video or MP3s off of a home server. The system could act as a WebTV-style device or be used for DVD playback. With ATI's USB Wonder, the box could provide TiVo-like personal video recording capabilities.

As an enthusiast's PC, the SV24 may be a bit of a stretch, but it could come mighty close. Load it up with 512MB of CAS 2 RAM, a Pentium III 1GHz processor, a combo CD-RW/DVD drive, a floppy drive, and a 64MB PCI GeForce2 MX400 card, and you're getting there. Throw in a 100GB, 7200-rpm hard drive, and you've got a pretty decent little computer, even for playing 3D games.

The affluent among us might even custom build a cube just for LAN parties. For shame!

The SV24's ultimate purpose in life, however, is probably a little more humble than that. For not very much money, this thing could become the perfect computer for folks who aren't looking for ultimate performance. If I were to build a PC for my grandpa, something like the SV24 would be an ideal choice.

The point of this little mental exercise is to underline the SV24's uniqueness. I've not really seen anything else quite like it, and those pre-fab Mac cubes that didn't sell don't count. The SV24 is small, but in the right hands, it can be built into a zillion different configurations to fit different purposes. The fact it's not a pre-fab PC is a big part of the SV24's appeal.