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Shuttle's XPC SB77G5 mini-barebones system

An odd couple

Manufacturer Shuttle
Model SB77G5
Price (street) $310
Availability Soon

YEARS AGO, Shuttle started the small form factor craze with the SV24. At the time, small form factor systems were definitely niche products, but over time, thoughtful refinement and innovation have given cubes widespread appeal. Shuttle's latest creation, the SB77G5, is a testament to how far the company and small form factor market have come since the SV24. The SB77G5 unapologetically caters to the needs of overclocking enthusiasts with small form factor fetishes, sometimes at the expense of more mainstream appeal.

With a deep lineup of well over three dozen cubes and demand for its XPC systems on the rise, Shuttle can afford to cater to niches within the small form factor market. Overclocking enthusiasts aren't easy to please, though. Read on to see if the SB77G5 measures up to our notoriously high expectations.

The XPC SB77G5

The specs
As always, let's kick things off with a look at the cube's spec sheet. The first thing you'll notice is that the SB77G5 has an LGA775 socket for Pentium 4 processors. If you are a card-carrying AMD fan, you might want to check out our review of the Socket 939 SN95G5.

CPU support LGA775 Intel Pentium 4 processors with 800MHz front-side bus
Chipset Intel 875P
North bridge Intel 875P MCH
South bridge Intel ICH5R
Interconnect Intel Accelerated Hub (266MB/sec)
Expansion slots 1 32-bit/33MHz
1 AGP 4X/8X (1.5V only)
Memory 2 184-pin DIMM sockets
Maximum of 2GB of DDR266/333/400 SDRAM
Storage I/O Floppy disk
2 channels ATA/133
2 channels Serial ATA 150 via ICH5R with RAID 0,1 support
Audio 6-channel audio via ICH5R integrated audio and ALC658 codec
Ports 1 PS/2 keyboard
1 PS/2 mouse
1 serial
USB 2.0 with headers for 2 more
2 Firewire via VT6307
1 RJ45 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet via Broadcom BCM5788

1 analog front out
1 analog bass/center out
1 analog rear out
1 analog headphone out
1 analog mic in
1 analog line in
2 digital S/PDIF outputs (TOS-Link and Coaxial)
1 digital S/PDIF input (TOS-Link)
BIOS Phoenix AwardBIOS
Bus speeds CPU: 100-355MHz in 1MHz increments
Bus dividers AGP/PCI/SATA: locked 66/33/100, 73/36/100, 80/40/100
Voltages CPU: 0.8250-1.5875V in 0.125V increments
DDR: 2.7-2.9V in 0.1V increments
AGP: 1.6-1.8V in 0.1V increments
Monitoring Voltage, fan status, and temperature monitoring
Fan speed control System

Apart from the odd pairing of an LGA775 socket and an 875P "Canterwood" chipset, the SB775G5's spec sheet is largely devoid of surprises. This cube's PCI-bound Gigabit Ethernet chip, Realtek audio codec, and VIA Firewire solution are common in both cubes and motherboards alike. Were the SB775G5 a full-sized ATX board, I might get a little worried about PCI-bound GigE and Firewire chips sharing limited PCI bus bandwidth with other devices. However, since the SB775G5 has only one PCI slot, bandwidth sharing shouldn't be a major issue.

Although I don't have any issues with the SB775G5's spec sheet, I should point out the significant differences between the older 875P chipset and Intel's latest 900-series core logic. First and foremost, the 900-series chipsets support PCI Express. The 875P doesn't, which is why you'll find an AGP slot in SB775G5. Given the impressive performance of NVIDIA's recently released GeForce 6600 GT AGP and the wide range of Radeon X800 and GeForce 6800-series cards available for AGP, the lack of a PCI Express x16 graphics slot shouldn't hinder this XPC too much. AGP cards based on next-gen graphics may be rare a year from now, though.

In addition to its lack of PCI Express support, the 875P can't match Intel's newer chipsets when it comes to support for Native Command Queuing (NCQ), Matrix RAID, and High Definition Audio. I haven't been overly impressed with the playback quality of Intel High Definition Audio implementations, so that's not a big loss for me. However, NCQ and Matrix RAID will be missed, in particular because Serial ATA hard drives with NCQ support are now readily available on the market. You can read more about NCQ, Matrix RAID, and Intel's High Definition Audio standard in our 900-series chipset review.

That covers the highlights of the SB775G5's specs, which means it's now time for a photo-tour of the cube's chassis and internals. If you've been keeping up with our cube reviews, you'll notice that the SB775G5's slick "G5" chassis is identical to that of the SN95G5.