Introduction

In an ideal world, we would have as much time as we needed in any given day to get all of our tasks done. Our intention was to have finished several SFF roundups by now. Unfortunately, the old cliché about the road to hell being paved with good intentions certainly applies. We've done our best to include all the currently shipping socket 939 SFFs, and that ended up delaying this article several times. We have them all now, until the next batch shows up.

The enthusiast community is currently very pro-Athlon 64, and with good reason. Looking at the feature set and performance, not to mention the frequently lower price, AMD is currently beating Intel in most areas. Some people mistakenly assume that this means that AMD is currently ahead of Intel, but they're really only ahead in one area: performance. Intel still sells more CPUs total - many going to the business sector - and Intel is ahead in the manufacturing and production areas, particularly in terms of total fabrication capacity. For better or for worse, Intel is certainly not out of the picture yet, and the total number of Athlon 64 SFFs is far less than what is available for socket 775. We'll be covering that segment in the future, but if we were personally to go out and buy a SFF right now, it would be an Athlon 64 based system, preferably with socket 939.

That means that this roundup features our preferred platform, so we're looking for the best option of what we have available. When we first started work on this roundup, we only had two shipping products (the Shuttle SN95G5 and the Soltek QBIC 3901-300P). We've now added a couple more Shuttle units, the SN25P and the ST20G5, along with the recently launched Biostar IDEQ 330P. We've already taken an in-depth look at the SN95P, and we'll include updated information and performance benchmarks for it in this roundup.

For those who have lost count, that makes this current article a roundup of three Shuttle SFFs, one Biostar, and one Soltek (though there are six or so variants of the Soltek model). Trust us; we're not trying to play favorites with Shuttle. The fact of the matter is that they basically started the whole SFF market back in 2001, and they've continued to focus on it more than anyone else. Shuttle had a prototype SLI setup at the recent Computex, and they probably have a few more AMD designs on the way. Other companies are working on socket 939 systems as well, and we would invite any of them to contact us if they would like to have us review their product.

Reviewing a Small Form Factor System
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  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, August 10, 2005 - link

    So I spoke too soon. After finishing this article, I just happend to come across http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82...">the new Aopen 939 SFF. That actually looks pretty promising, though the IGP isn't going to beat the ST20G5 that I can see (no DVI port). Time to put in a request for that unit.... Reply
  • rqle - Wednesday, August 10, 2005 - link

    Price of these SFF are getting quite pricey lately. So much to the point when you add the cpu, hard drive, memory, video card, optical drive AND LCD it will comes very close to the price of a good high end laptop on a good day. Dell 17inch 9300 w/6800 on a VERY good sale day comes just over the price of these SFF 'system.' Big fan of these SFF, but prices should be a little bit more reasonable for me to buy again. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, August 10, 2005 - link

    I agree with you on a lot of that, but a SFF with a 19" (or larger) LCD and a 6800GT/X800XL is pretty much going to stomp all over any similarly priced laptop. There's basically a $150 price premium to get a high-end SFF case, which is going to prevent many from buying. Still, some people buy $200 cases just because they look nice, so it's all a matter of taste.

    If you need portability, though, there are very few options other than getting a laptop. Personally, laptops and gaming are something I just don't care about. I'd get a cheap laptop for the office work I do and then keep a second system at home for any gaming. Some of course feel otherwise, but laptop keyboards and such just don't do it for me.
    Reply
  • R3MF - Wednesday, August 10, 2005 - link

    love it. Reply
  • BigT383 - Wednesday, August 10, 2005 - link

    I have a first-generation SN95G5. I bought it thinking that since it's socket 939 I'd be able to upgrade to dual-core when it came out.

    Apparently this isn't the case, but I haven't seen anybody say they've tried it yet- so far there seem to be only rumors.

    So I know this is a weird request but what I'd like to see right now is an article testing a CPU like the Athlon X2 4400+ on the three different versions of the SN95G5.

    I can understand that X2s need a bios update, but the physical motherboard shouldn't be holding me back, right?
    Reply
  • dcuccia - Thursday, August 18, 2005 - link

    X2 support for the SN25P w/o USB2 issues is now available through a BIOS upgrade:

    http://www.shuttle.com/share/fae/hq/download/bios_...">http://www.shuttle.com/share/fae/hq/download/bios_...

    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, August 18, 2005 - link

    Thanks, I made a quick comment on the SN25P page to mention this. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, August 10, 2005 - link

    I'm going to be dropping an X2 3800+ into the SN95G5v2 just to see what happens. I'll try to get some official word from Shuttle on the matter as well. I really have no idea what the SN95G5v1 will support. I think the main change between it and v2 was a switch from an 80mm fan to a 92mm fan. Reply
  • Zirconium - Wednesday, August 10, 2005 - link

    I love the roundup articles. I find them to be the most useful because they allow you to hone in on what you are looking for quickly, and then you can go to other sites and check the reviews that are solely for the products you are looking for.

    That said, one thing I'm interested is the quality of the integrated graphics on these computers. I have an SK41G and I could tell the difference between the quality of the built-in graphics and the AIW Radeon 7500 that is currently in it. When the integrated graphics were hooked up to a TV (I tried two) you could notice bands moving up the TV.
    Reply

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