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  • SoSpartan - Tuesday, August 01, 2006 - link

    Why do you state that the SN27P2 has a 400W power supply when your pictures clearly show a 350W power supply? Shuttle's website says 400W prominently, but their PDF spec sheet says 350W! What's the deal? The extra 50W could make the difference between running a nVidia 6800 vs 7900GTX or 7950GX2 stably! Reply
  • akp - Sunday, July 02, 2006 - link

    Nice review in general, but I feel like there's one thing really missing. As you say on page 6 (Benchmark setup):

    The key feature for the SN27P2 of course is its size, but noise control is also likely to be a major consideration.
    If you are simply planning on using the system as the core of an HTPC, our recommendation would be to grab one of the many fan-less GPUs that are coming to market, probably a 7600 (GT as an upgrade) or an X1600 Pro/XT would strike a decent balance between performance and power/heat requirements.

    Given those factors, wouldn't it have made a lot of sense to include a fanless GPU in your benchmark setup? I really have to wonder how much of the power draw and noise was coming just from the graphics card in those tests.
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, July 02, 2006 - link

    Actually, the majority of the noise under full load with the 7600GT comes from the CPU. However, the GPU is contributing a bit in that configuration. A fan-less GPU wasn't included because I don't have one at present. The idle noise with the 7600 GT used is almost entirely generated by the CPU/case cooling - maybe subtract 2 dB for the GPU at best. Reply
  • artifex - Saturday, July 01, 2006 - link

    What was the temperature like when all bays were full of either hard drives or an active DVD burner? I'm wondering if it can really keep up in a situation like that. In my tower, my drives seem to get really hot without extra cooling. Please consider adding a test like this the next time you review SFFs.

    Also, e-SATA sounds cool, but that's strictly a drive interface. Wouldn't another firewire port have been more useful? Is e-SATA faster than FW400? If I use the firewire in the back for one external firewire drive, that means I'm left with a minifw in front for video cameras, etc. I'd really like more flexibility, there, so I'll be looking forward to your reviews of other AM2 SFFs for sure.
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, July 01, 2006 - link

    SATA tops out at 300 MB per second these days (though in reality hard drives can't come near that number for sustained performance). FireWire 1394b tops out at 800 Mbps (one third as fast) and 1394a only hits 400 Mbps. That said, FireWire is a far more flexible interface, as there are many peripherals that use it. So far SATA is only for hard drives.

    As for installing three HDDs, I'd be very nervous if they were all hot drives. However, I have an SN25P with two HDDs that has been in use for about a year and it has no problems with temperatures. Under the right conditions (or wrong conditions if you prefer), the fans in the case will simply have to spin faster and make more noise. I don't think 51 dB is as loud as the SN25P can get, and the SN27P2 is basically the same in terms of cooling.

    Note that the rear of the case does have two 60mm fans just for cooling the HDD area (mostly), so the only HDD spot I'd be concerned with is the floppy/HDD area, and then only if you were planning on running three HDDs along with a big GPU like a 7900 GTX or X1900 XTX. Even then, those large GPUs would probably just end up adding more noise and helping ventilation.
  • artifex - Monday, July 03, 2006 - link

    Well, this might replace my Antex Soho tower with 3 accessory fans, so I'm used to the noise already. Also, I only have a 5500 since I'm not a big gamer, so this is looking better. Thanks again. Reply
  • Howard - Saturday, July 01, 2006 - link

    What's an SPL meater? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, July 01, 2006 - link

    Sound Pressure Level. Just a small device to measure how much noise is present. For example, I'm sitting in front of a 24" fan right now, which is rather noisy. It generates 55 dB of noise at a distance of six feet. Scary that some PCs are as loud as a standing fan. :| Reply
  • AnonymouseUser - Saturday, July 01, 2006 - link

    What is the point of the last paragraph? This was a decent review until the very end.

    "There are two major events that need to take place before we would recommend most people go out and buy this system, however. First, it needs to be available for purchase"

    OK, that makes sense, but that pretty much goes without saying that it needs to be available before you can buy it.

    "More importantly, as we've mentioned repeatedly over the past few weeks, you might as well wait a month now and find out what happens with the Core 2 Duo launch. That also gives the side benefit of lower X2 CPU prices, [[ so even if you're not interested in Intel's new processor lineup for whatever reason ]], the AM2 price cuts are likely to keep you waiting another month."

    How does this affect the peformance of the SFF in the review? How does this affect the price of the SFF in the review?

    This was a review of an AMD based SFF, not a comparison of AMD/Intel cpus, so we don't need your opinion on which CPU brand to choose.
  • Frumious1 - Saturday, July 01, 2006 - link

    OMG Jarred! How DARE you mention crazy things like launch dates and prices cuts. WTF do those have to do with a review about an expensive-ass Shuttle SFF!? We AMD fanboys prefer to bury our heads in the sand and pretend that Core 2 Duo is just a bunch of lies and that AM2 will remain superior until hell freezes over. (Which, incidentally, is scheduled to happen around July 25th last I heard....)

    Seriously Anonymouse do you work for AMD or something? You many not give a damn about Core 2 Duo, but most of us don't have our blinders on. "How does this affect the peformance of the SFF in the review? How does this affect the price of the SFF in the review?"

    I'd say that it means future SFFs like the SD37P2 will offer better performance than anything you can put in the SN27P2 (at least until AMD ships something other than a three-year-old K8 derivative), and it means that for the same $400+ that the Shuttles are going to cost you could end up with a better (faster and cooler running) SFF. Yes I said it: Core 2 Duo will be BETTER than AM2 X2! So stick THAT where the sun don't shine (right next to your head).

    Freaking amazing how that thing called logic works, innit?

    For the record, I don't work for Intel or AMD, and I wouldn't buy a SFF unless the price was the same as that of an ATX case + mobo + moderate PSU. Just about any reasonable ATX case is going to end up quieter than these SFFs if you build it right.
  • Calin - Monday, July 03, 2006 - link

    Most any ATX case will be quiter and possibly cooler inside than one of those SFF computers. However, they will be twice as big (or more). If that's ok with you, that's great - ATX all the way. If not, a laptop or a SFF certainly makes sense (even if the price is much better on the full ATX front). Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, July 03, 2006 - link

    I don't know - it depends on the ATX case you're talking about and how many fans you want to install. If you install two or three case fans (or more) and they aren't temperature controlled, a lot of the less expensive ATX cases will be louder than many SFF cases. Lower quality power supplies will also make a lot of noise. If you don't want a big case, and you are interested in getting an extremely easy to set up bare-bones system, SFF computers are really very nice.

    I do wish prices were about $100 lower, however. $300 for a SFF I can justify; $400+ is a lot more difficult to stomach. For that much money, you can get a good power supply, motherboard, and pretty much any case that you want. I suppose part of it has to do with economies of scale; I don't know how many SFF cases Shuttle has sold, but I doubt they sell as many SFFs someone like ASUS would sell motherboards. That means all of their R&D costs that go into creating a smaller case have to be passed on as a larger percentage of the price.
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, July 01, 2006 - link

    There was no opinion given on which CPU to choose, was there? I simply stated (and this is the expanded version) that even if you're going to buy AMD anyway and couldn't care less about Core 2 Duo, AMD has price cuts scheduled for July 24th so you can pick up an X2 CPU for a lot less than current prices. Here's my opinion:

    Core 2 Duo will be faster than anything AMD has to offer at least in the short term. AMD X2 will cost less at most (all?) price points, and in some cases (gaming), you're probably GPU limited either way since the current maximum for an SFF is going to be the 7950 GX2. I expect Shuttle will have the SD37P2 out some time after C2D launches, but since they're already 1 month behind the AM2 launch and you still can't purchase the SN27P2, that trend will likely continue and the SD37P2 won't be available until probably early September or so. (I could very well be wrong on that account, but I'm simply going by recent history.)

    Which is the better choice? As you have so clearly demonstrated, that's a matter of personal taste. Some people are only going to buy AMD at present; others will only buy Intel. Most would like to buy whichever offers the best performance at a specific price point. I would guess that AMD will be competitive in the price/performance area even if C2D is faster overall, so in the end they get what they're happy with. I still wouldn't purchase an AM2 chip until those price cuts take affect.
  • VooDooAddict - Saturday, July 01, 2006 - link


    Will the 7950 Fit?
    Does the BIOS support the card?
    Can the powersupply keep it running with 2 gigs of RAM and a AMD 5000+?

    As soon as I saw the 7950 anouncement all I could think about was building a new SFF system around it.
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, July 01, 2006 - link

    I don't have one available, but my understanding is just about any motherboard with an X16 slot will work with the 7950 GX2. Since I managed to install a 7900 GTX in the SN37P2, I'm pretty sure the GX2 is actually a bit smaller overall, so it will certainly fit. Is it compatible? Well, the SN27P2 uses an NVIDIA chipset, so if it's *not* compatible, NVIDIA has a serious problem with support of GX2. In other words, I'm 99% certain that it will work. Reply
  • VooDooAddict - Monday, July 03, 2006 - link

    I didn't think the issue was the chipset ... I thought it was the BIOS. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, July 03, 2006 - link

    Right, the BIOS needs to support non-graphics devices in the X16 slots. My point is that if a board using NVIDIA's chipset doesn't support NVIDIA's top GPU, what's the chance of getting everyone else to support it? Reply

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