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Review: Shuttle XPC ST20G5

by Ryszard Sommefeldt on 29 May 2005, 00:00

Tags: Shuttle, AMD (NYSE:AMD), ATi Technologies (NYSE:AMD)

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ST20G5's specification

Shuttle's XPC SB20G5
CPU All Socket 939 AMD Athlon 64 Processors, up to:
AMD Athlon FX-55 (2.6GHz, 1MiB L2)
AMD Athlon 64 4000+ (2.4GHz, 1MiB L2)
Unannounced but probable support for AMD's Athlon X2
Northbridge ATI Radeon Xpress 200 (RS480)
Memory Support 2 slots. 2 x DDR (DDR400 max), 2GB max
Display None
PEG 16 lanes from the RS480
Southbridge ULi M1573
Audio Realtek ALC880 8-channel HD Audio CODEC from ULi M1573 feed
Audio Connectivity Optical S/PDIF input and output
line in, mic output, headphone output, basic speaker outputs
PCI Conventional 1 x 32-bit
IDE 1 port ATA100 from ULi M1573
SATA 2 SATA150 ports from ULi M1573
SATA RAID Both ports from ULi M1573, RAID levels: 0, 1, JBOD
Networking Broadcom 5751 GigE PCI, 10/100/1000 Mibit/sec
USB ULi M1573 (8 total), 4 USB2.0 (2 front, 2 rear), headers for 4 more
FireWire 2 x FireWire400 (1 rear 6-pin, 1 front 4-pin), from VIA VT6307
PC Card None
Other I/O DVI, VGA (both from RS480), PS/2
Disk space 2 internal 3.5" bays
1 5.25" optical external bays
Batteries/Power Internal 240W PSU
Weight and dimensions
198mm wide
308mm deep
184mm high

ATI's RS480 northbridge and ULi's M1573 bestow the Socket 939-equipped XPC with the modern hardware support you'd expect from an XPC today. There's a PEG16X electrical slot, with all 16 lanes provided by the RS480 chip, for any graphics card you wish to augment for SurroundView, or should the on-board GPU not fit the bill. You've got plenty of USB2.0 ports with two each at the front and rear, with headers for the other four that the ULi chip provides. There's built-in Gigabit Ethernet from Broadcom and HD Audio support from a Realtek ALC880 CODEC chip, which talks to the ULi M1573.

That audio CODEC lets you connect anything up to and including a 7.1 speaker set, and there's optical S/PDIF input and output for connection to a receiver, amp or similar audio device that you may own.

FireWire400 shows up, too, with a 6-pin powered port on the XPC's rear I/O port cluster, and a 4-pin unpowered port at the front. I'll show you all the ports in due course.

In terms of disk connectivity, the ST20G5 is very much SATA-based. The default cabling configuration has no provision for a PATA hard disk, unless you decline to install any kind of PATA optical drive and use the solitary connector for one instead. You're provided with a cable with two PATA connectors, should you wish to use a PATA hard disk and optical drive at the same time, but with no extra PATA port on the mainboard, that means both devices will share the connection.

So the optimal configuration inside the ST20G5 is SATA for your hard disks (should you install two) and PATA for your optical drive. One of the internal 3.5" bay spaces has an external bay for a floppy drive, card reader or similar ahead of it. Space considerations mean that a single hard disk is all you'll really wish to install, for heat reasons, with a multi-format media reader and combination floppy drive probably your best choice for the spare bay. I was half expecting one to be supplied with the ST20G5, but Shuttle have denied buyers that pleasure.

Being a G5 chassis, it's the second smallest XPC enclosure that Shuttle produce, with it also being the most attractive to look at, at least in this reviewer's opinion.

With good looks and a barrel-load of features, supporting all the latest enthusiast hardware, it'd be rude not to have a photographic look.