Final Words

Shuttle has come a long way with their XPC line of barebones systems; from making neat niche systems to finally producing something that can replace just about anyone's desktop computer, but the real question is "Is it worth it?"

The size of the SS51 chassis is attractive not to mention the appearance that is not only elegant but something that can look good on your desk. The PC is virtually silent, even with a 2.53GHz Pentium 4 and a GeForce4 Ti 4600 running beneath the hood. Every single feature you could possibly want (sans wireless and Gigabit Ethernet) is provided onboard and assuming you want more, there's always an available PCI slot for expansion. Drive bays are limited but with 120GB IDE drives already available and 200GB drives on the way, many users are only running with a single hard drive and a CD/DVD/R/RW drive. The performance of the platform is just about on par with an 845G setup with DDR333 SDRAM, which doesn't leave much to complain about.

The solution is more than feasible for even the most scrutinizing user, although you do sacrifice an viable upgrade path by going with the SS51. Upgrading CPUs and video cards shouldn't be a problem but when it comes to motherboards, you're pretty much stuck with what you've got. Shuttle has talked about plans to make more motherboards to fit in the SS51 chassis but as power and cooling requirements change with future processors and chipsets, a guaranteed upgrade path is almost impossible to ensure.

By far our biggest complaint about the solution is with Shuttle's FS51 motherboard and the problems we encountered; we compared the system directly to an ASUS machine we built and there were noticeable differences in stability. Only further testing with a new motherboard will let us know if the problems we encountered were an isolated case, but assuming our sample was a fluke - the SS51 should be on its way to making many computer rooms quieter and classier. If we could resolve the issues we had with the motherboard we'd gladly use SS51s as our machines in the lab and at home.

What's up next from Shuttle? An nForce2 based XPC; if paired up with a All-in-Wonder Radeon 8500DV (or maybe even the R300 version) we'd have one killer Home Theater PC on our hands with that one...

High End Workstation Performance (continued)
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  • jbratton - Tuesday, September 16, 2003 - link

    My advice a a Shuttle Customer... DO NOT RISK IT !
    There are lots of other vendors with integrity out there. The jokers I've delt with at Shuttle in the US void any warranty they claim ! Im my experience with them I can count on an unneeded flashing bios.. If thats the problem.. than your ok.. ortherwize.. you're on your own.. after a couple of attempts..forget it.. your warrantys expired !! - A Joke they play on us !

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