Shuttle XPC ST61G4: Tiny Computer with Big Integrated Videoby Wesley Fink on January 23, 2004 12:23 PM EST
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Shuttle XPC ST61G4: XPC G4 ChassisIt seems that new small computers have been appearing recently from every direction to challenge Shuttle as the SFF Market Leader. Some, like the Biostar IDEQ 200T and Soltek Qubic EQ3401M, have challenged Shuttle with exquisite design or new standards in quietness. The new G4 Chassis is Shuttle's answer to the competition with a slick new design, a larger 250-watt power supply, and claims of the quietest SFF that you can buy.
The front of the attractive XPC G4 case is mirrored - Shuttle even includes a cleaning cloth to remove the inevitable fingerprints from the front mirror. The on/off and reset switches and lights float like little jewels on the mirrored front panel. Front ports are in a row toward the bottom of the front panel. They include microphone, headphone, audio out, 2 USB 1.1/2.0, and a mini Firewire port. Access is available to the single 5.25" external bay. The front port options are very well thought out in this new chassis.
Yes, there is no floppy drive. Instead, Shuttle has used a bootable 6-in-1 flash card reader. With Compact Flash offering 2GB and larger storage options, this is a significant upgrade to the 1.44MB 3-1/2" floppy. It is also an option that will be appreciated by digital camera users, since Memory Stick, Smart Media, SD, MMC, and CFI/II are all readable.
The ST61G4 provides a more concentrated selection of ports on the rear. They include PS2 ports for keyboard and mouse, VGA, serial, a 10/100 Ethernet LAN port, 2 USB 2.0 ports, SPDIF In/Out and a Firewire port. There are 3 rear audio ports, for a full set of surround speakers - Front, Rear, and Center/Subwoofer. While there is a punchout available for a Parallel port, Shuttle does not include the connecting cable and bracket. It has become almost standard that you will not find a parallel port installed on an SFF system, but the option is there if you require it. This is not generally an issue for end-users, since most printers are now USB.
You can see the outlet grill on the rear for the new 250-watt power supply, one of the largest available on any SFF. The large square grill is the exhaust for the updated Shuttle ICE cooling system.
Shuttle has cleverly designed additional cooling into the new XPC chassis. You can see clearly the additional air intakes on the bottom front of the new chassis.
The new 250-watt Silent X power supply makes its first appearance on the ST61G4. Shuttle claims it is the most advanced SFF power supply produced, with increased output, lighter weight, and much quieter operation than previous power supplies.
"Developed under secrecy for over a year, the SilentX has proprietary high-efficiency design, providing more power with less heat output. Airflow and intake/exhaust vents have been optimized, resulting in less resistance and reduced turbulence in the airflow. Also, the power supply chassis has an all-aluminum design, significantly reducing weight."
Apparently, Shuttle is receiving requests for even larger power supplies for their SFF systems, since the Silent X 250 is also available as an accessory to upgrade previous generation XPCs. Shuttle states that the 250 is compatible with 13 Shuttle models beginning with the SS40G.
Even after we loaded the system with a CD Recorder/DVD combo and a 120Gb hard drive, there was still a spare Molex connector for our 9800 PRO test card.
As you can see, there is an 8X AGP slot in addition to the integrated ATI graphics. There is also a spare PCI slot for expansion. The 2 Dual-Channel memory slots run across the front of the board. This is an OK arrangement, but mini boards with slots that run lengthwise are more accessible after the build is complete. You can also see the ATI IXP150 south bridge and the north bridge with a heatsink/fan for cooling.
The very effective Shuttle ICE cooling system has been beefed up with an 80mm fan, which should make the Shuttle quieter but still able to move more air for effective thermal cooling.
The Silent X power supply fills much of the right side of the chassis, but the power supply is tall and thin - much smaller in volume than the photo suggests.