SN25P Features

In the features department, the SN25P is stuffed to the gills with useful options. See for yourself.

Shuttle XPC SN25P
Dimension (w)210 mm x (h)220 mm x (d)320 mm
CPU Support AMD Socket 939 up to FX-55+
Memory Support PC1600/PC2100/PC2700/PC3200 up to 2GB; 2 DIMM slots
Motherboard FN25 (proprietary)
NVIDIA nForce4 Standard Chipset
1X-5X (200-1000MHz) HyperTransport
8-bit/8-bit to 16-bit/16-bit HT Width
Flash Reader CF I/II, MD, SM/SMC, SD, MMC, and MS/MSP
Expansion Slots 1 x PCIe X16; 1 x PCIe X1
Power Supply 350W Silent X Power Supply
2 x 4-pin Molex; 1 x 4-pin FDD; 3 x SATA
2 x 6-pin Proprietary
Internal Connections 4 x SATA; 1 x IDE; 1 x FDD; 1 x LPT
Audio VIA Envy 24-bit, 7.1 channel
LAN 1 x 10/100/1000 Mbps
Drive Bays 1 x 3.5 External
2 x 3.5 Internal (HDD)
1 x 5.25 External (CD/DVD)
Front I/O 2 x USB 2.0
1 x IEEE1394 (6pin)
MIC, Head-phone
Power & Reset buttons
Power on & HDD LED indicators
Rear I/O 4 x USB 2.0
1 x IEEE1394 (6pin)
PS/2 KB, PS/2 Mouse
Serial port
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
Overclocking CPU 200-250; CPU Ratio 4X-Max; Northbridge 1.60V-1.70V
Vcc 0.800-1.700V; DDR Auto, 2.70-2.90V
Extras ICE cooling
Full Image Set Shuttle SN25P Pictures (9.6MB)
Manufacturer Link 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.

Aesthetics Construction
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  • Iargonaut - Wednesday, May 4, 2005 - link

    One question - not concerning image quality (there are several other reviews on the net with worse pictures!) - how about the stability and the speed of the ethernet port? I read on that there have been some issues with this.
    And finally when and what is the next nforce 4 SFF to be expected?

    Thanks and as always: great review!
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, July 30, 2005 - link

    Soon... very soon! Including some updated SN25P benchmarks (Network as well as overclocking).
  • JarredWalton - Friday, March 11, 2005 - link

    I understand that GIF/PNG would have been smaller. Again, I have deleted the originals, and the Shuttle provided image was already in JPG format. If I were to convert them to GIF/PNG now, the JPEG artifacts make it pointless. The system is disassembled, so I can't just recreate the images at the drop of a hat.

    As far as bandwidth and page loads are concerned, bandwidth is practically free for servers. It's not a major concern. I mean, I contributed to a reduction in bandwidth by creating thumbnails that are 1/9 the size of the larger images, mostly because I don't think a lot of people are really that concerned about looking at *every* image in high detail.

    Personally, I'm more upset about the lousy quality of some of my pictures (not a very good camera) than I am with the size of the CPUZ images. I'm still trying to figure out the best way to get clean images. I'll be trying some brighter lights for the next set of pictures, so we'll see if that helps.

    FWIW, even if the entire content of one of our pages was 60KB - which would stream in about 1 second over any broadband connection - it would take anywhere from 2 to 4 seconds to render the pages due to their complexity. Pentium 3 and low end Athlon systems are substantially slower at page rendering. Also, what about the non-AnandTech ad servers? Sometimes those are a bigger bottleneck than anything else. Anyway, I'm not involved AT ALL in the site design, so the only thing I have sway over is what sits in the middle of the pages. :)
  • cosmotic - Friday, March 11, 2005 - link

    You could cut the filesize of the header on each page down by half if you just stuck it in fireworks, clicked gif, then exact palette. You could go a little further by using an 8bit PNG, and also lose pattent issues. If you touched it up a little bit, you could make it 1/4 the originial size.
  • cosmotic - Friday, March 11, 2005 - link

    As Ed points out, it saves on bandwidth. If you cut the page sizes in half by optimizing images and such, you would save a ton on bandwidth. Plus, even on broadband, page loads are not instant. If you could get it under 40K, then it would load in 1 second (still not instant). but at 170K, it would take 3 more seconds for people with average broadband connections. When people get fiber in their homes, are you going to start using TIFFs? Not only are you waisting your bandwidth, and the bandwidth of your visiters, your also contributing to clogging up large pipes cross-country. It's not a huge deal, but if every one took your aditude, the internet would be slllooooowwww. Why is it so hard to compress the images? Just stick them in Fireworks or whatever and spend 20 seconds makeing them smaller. If you spend 5 min making all the cross-site images half as small, you would save a bundle on bandwidth.
  • GoatHerderEd - Friday, March 11, 2005 - link

    Cosmotic and Jared; As the operator of the site, AT should care because it is using bandwidth. But if they have enough to spare, WTF cares? The users really should not care. Even if they were on dialup, it would still be fast enough. Plus who uses dial up any more? If you read this site, and you use dial up, you’re probably using something to increase page loads that will mutilate the picture anyways. You guys need to give it a rest. Be thankful they aren’t bitmaps! Infact, Jared, you should make them all bitmaps just for fun. See what people say then. We come to AT for the reviews and comments, not for an art gallery.

    On a separate topic, great article. Keep up the good work; keep those AMD based system reviews coming. I love my XPC. One thing I am mad at is the HDD. I used a Raptor thinking it would be faster. It may be, but not by much. There is one big issue with it though, its louder than F*CK. It sounds like a really old AT style pc because of the HDD. AHH! I think I may get it replaced soon because its so loud. Defeats the purpose of all the quiet fans.
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, March 10, 2005 - link

    Zepper - repairs of which parts? Shuttle gives a 1 year warranty on their SFFs, and they'll even repair items outside of that warranty for a fee. That's not the greatest warranty ever (many motherboards come with a 3 year warranty), but it's not bad either. The only parts that are really likely to fail are the fans, which you can replace relatively easily. The PSU is the only really proprietary part that might need to be replaced, and even then you can purchase a new SilentX from Shuttle for $60 to $80 (guessing on the 350W, as I can't find a price for it yet).

    In the end, it *is* an expensive unit, but it's a well-designed unit. An ATX case and nF4 motherboard would cost about half as much. Shrinking sizes usually increases costs, and the quality of the parts used in this case looks to be better than what would go into a cheap to moderate ATX case. I wouldn't expect much in the way of repairs/failures if you clean it out with compressed air every 3 months. I know quite a few people that have been running XPCs for two years without trouble.
  • Zepper - Thursday, March 10, 2005 - link

    Cost of long-term ownership too high with all those proprietary parts...

  • JarredWalton - Thursday, March 10, 2005 - link

    21 - I can't believe anyone cares! I mean, who even notices that an image is 50K instead of 15K anymore? Dial-up users... but do we really get many of those? I don't know. I'm not in charge of the site layout, however, which as I've mentioned is about 170K all on its own. You might as well start complaining about all the advertisements (which is what runs sites such as this, if you weren't aware). One page out of 12 was 120K larger than it needed to be... and the world moves on. :)

    Anyway, once I update the article with new overclocking tests (in the next week or so), I'll be sure to replace the JPG images with GIF versions.
  • cosmotic - Thursday, March 10, 2005 - link

    I cant believe your defending using poor formats and those huge page sizes. You should be trying to make the page sizes as small as possible.

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