SN25P FeaturesIn the features department, the SN25P is stuffed to the gills with useful options. See for yourself.
Shuttle XPC SN25P
|(w)210 mm x (h)220 mm x (d)320 mm
|AMD Socket 939 up to FX-55+
|PC1600/PC2100/PC2700/PC3200 up to 2GB; 2 DIMM slots
NVIDIA nForce4 Standard Chipset
1X-5X (200-1000MHz) HyperTransport
8-bit/8-bit to 16-bit/16-bit HT Width
|CF I/II, MD, SM/SMC, SD, MMC, and MS/MSP
|1 x PCIe X16; 1 x PCIe X1
|350W Silent X Power Supply
2 x 4-pin Molex; 1 x 4-pin FDD; 3 x SATA
2 x 6-pin Proprietary
|4 x SATA; 1 x IDE; 1 x FDD; 1 x LPT
|VIA Envy 24-bit, 7.1 channel
|1 x 10/100/1000 Mbps
|1 x 3.5 External
2 x 3.5 Internal (HDD)
1 x 5.25 External (CD/DVD)
|2 x USB 2.0
1 x IEEE1394 (6pin)
Power & Reset buttons
Power on & HDD LED indicators
|4 x USB 2.0
1 x IEEE1394 (6pin)
PS/2 KB, PS/2 Mouse
RJ-45 LAN Port (10/100/1000Mbps)
Line-in, S/PDIF In Optical
S/PDIF Out Optical & Coax
Center/Sub, L/R Front, L/R Surround, L/R Surround B
Clear CMOS Button
|CPU 200-250; CPU Ratio 4X-Max; Northbridge 1.60V-1.70V
Vcc 0.800-1.700V; DDR Auto, 2.70-2.90V
|Full Image Set
|Shuttle SN25P Pictures (9.6MB)
|Shuttle XPC SN25P
We, of course, have the standard support for Firewire, USB2.0, front and rear audio with digital connections, gigabit Ethernet, and internal SATA and IDE connections. The flash card reader is also relatively common, with support for Compact Flash I/II, IBM Microdrive, Smart Media Card, Secure Digital, Multi Media Card, Memory Stick, and Memory Stick Pro. Or, if you prefer acronyms, it supports CF I/ II, MD, SM/SMC, SD, MMC, and MS/MSP. The only common format that's missing is XD. Something else that you may find useful is the presence of a CMOS clear button on the rear of the case that can be pressed using a small object like a pen. If you want to try overclocking, this button can come in handy, since getting at the CMOS battery or jumpers in a fully assembled SFF is difficult at best. None of these features are exceptional, but they are all nice to have.
|Click on images to enlarge.
More noteworthy features include the 7.1 VIA Envy 24-bit audio, which is used on several mid-range sound cards such as the M-Audio Revolution 7.1. It may not target the gamer market as well as something like an Audigy, but in testing, the unit was crystal clear on the audio front - welcome news for those who dislike noise and static. Also worth noting are the eight audio ports on the back (as well as the standard headphone and microphone jacks on the front). It is not uncommon to see three 1/8 inch jacks for 5.1 audio, and the two S/PDIF optical connections are on most SFF systems. The coaxial S/PDIF connection isn't quite so common, but if you actually use a microphone, this is one of the few SFF systems that allows 7.1 audio support simultaneously with a microphone.
Internally, there are even more features worthy of mention. First, we have all of the cables for the hard drives pre-installed and routed to appropriate locations. Only the floppy cable or a third SATA cable would need to be manually installed. A third SATA cable, you ask? That's right; the P series chassis is capable of running three hard drives at the same time! With so many options on the hard drive front, it is not surprising that RAID support (courtesy of the NF4 chipset) is also provided.
Just to make sure that there is ample power for such a configuration, Shuttle has increased the power supply rating from 240W to 350W. When you consider that the 240W SilentX PSUs in previous Shuttles were capable of running a high end graphics card and two HDDs, the 350W model should have plenty of power for a maxed out configuration. While our SFF lab doesn't really have enough parts on hand to punish the PSU, we have confirmed with Shuttle that they have conducted stress/validation testing of the PSU with an ATI Radeon X850XT PE, two Western Digital 74GB Raptors, a 250GB 7200 RPM drive, DRD+RW, and 2GB of RAM, all paired up with a Pentium 4 570J (Prescott 3.8GHz). Considering that the Athlon 64 requires quite a bit less power than the Prescott, a maximum configuration using the SN25P should not present any troubles.
Another noteworthy addition to the P series chassis is that the design is almost completely tool-less. We'll have more to say on this in the section about setup and installation, but it's certainly a useful addition. The cooling solution is, as usual, a "smart" design, so fans will spin down when temperatures are low, helping to reduce the noise levels. We were surprised to find five fans as the standard configuration for the case - and that's not even counting the potential for a sixth fan on the graphics card. Luckily, the fans seem to be there to help run a loaded configuration safely and when equipped more moderately - i.e. with a single hard drive - the fans were nearly silent. The fan on our X800 Pro graphics card was actually more noticeable than the five case fans. That could change with extended use, as dust can clog up fan bearings and increase their noise levels, but proper care and cleaning should avoid such problems. We really wish that fewer, larger fans could have been used instead, since our past experience with the smaller 40mm to 60mm fans indicates that they have a higher failure rate (and fail sooner) than larger fans.
Shuttle uses the nForce4 "Standard" chipset instead of the Ultra or SLI in the current model. To be honest, the differences between the Standard version and the Ultra version are very slight. NVIDIA lists some minor difference in the networking support, and the Ultra includes SATA-II hard drive support. SATA-II shouldn't dramatically alter HDD speed in most applications, as we're typically bound by the sustained transfer rate.
The graphics card support is of course PCI Express, given the chipset. This can be either good or bad depending on what you're after. PCIe is more future proof, as you know systems in the coming years will continue to provide X16 PEG slots for quite some time. The loss of a standard PCI slot, however, will cause some difficulties if you want to add in something like a TV tuner or other expansion card. Over time, this will become less of a concern, as current PCI card technologies should eventually migrate to X1 PCIe cards. One interesting aspect of the switch to PCIe is that the fan of the graphics card will now face the interior of the case rather than the outside. This has the potential to reduce cooling efficiency, but again, the five fans should help out. More interesting to us is that two-slot graphics cards can now be used, including models with larger heat sinks (like the X850XTPE that we mentioned above).
One last area to mention is the support for overclocking. As this is a more modern platform, we will actually test the feasibility of overclocking. It certainly isn't a requirement for most people, but with the focus on performance rather than minimal size, overclocking features will appeal to the enthusiasts out there.
As usual, no SFF design is going to be "perfect" for everyone. We mentioned some potential concerns that you might have with finding a use for the X1 PCIe slot, and there are other similar concerns. A parallel port is not provided, but there is a connection for a cable on the motherboard. Unfortunately (should you need to use such a cable), you will have to place a mounting bracket in the unoccupied PCIe slot as there is no punch-out on the rear of the chassis. Another very small omission is integrated graphics. You must purchase a PCIe graphics card in order to use this system. If that's important to you, the SB81P includes the GMA900 graphics, making it perhaps more suitable for a business environment. A future P series chassis with one of the ATI or VIA PCIe chipsets and IGP is something that we would like to see. The last point on which we would like to caution potential buyers is that there is only one IDE socket, supporting two IDE devices. Due to the length of IDE cables, if you want to use an IDE drive, you will need to use the 3.5" bay where a floppy could reside otherwise.
These are all minor criticisms, and we list them as things that users should be aware of rather than as serious problems. If you're purchasing an entirely new system, IDE hard drives are rather pointless, as are LPT printers. Similarly, if you're looking at this new SFF and seriously thinking about buying it, you're probably more interested in performance features than integrated graphics. Some may find the few omissions to be a real problem, but for most users, the feature set is going to be more than enough.