Shuttle SB51G SFF PC Review
Small-form-factor PCs are enjoying a high-profile status currently. People have realised that you don't need huge boxes to enjoy the benefits that arise from running a powerful PC. Shuttle, in particular, have been the standard-bearer for these smaller PCs that emulate the power from the larger beige boxes with disarming competence.
A few months ago I reviewed Shuttle's first attempt to manufacture a small-form-factor PC for the Pentium 4 that incorporated the all-important AGP slot. The SS51G, based on the competent SiS651 chipset, proved to be an immediate success with those looking for a quiet, powerful, and small PC. The inclusion of a dedicated AGP slot meant that we were no longer relegated to using the substandard on-board gfx, and were free to choose any graphics card on the market, including the then king-of-the-hill GeForce4 Ti 4600.
Small didn't have to mean a lack of features. On the contrary, the diminutive unit managed to pack more features than all but the very top-end standard ATX motherboards. USB2.0, Firewire (1394a), decent on-board sound and integrated LAN were just a few of the selling points.
Time has moved on and Shuttle feel that another incarnation of their popular SFF PCs in order. Seemingly to coincide with Intel's launch of their revamped i845GE chipset, Shuttle are about to release a socket 478 solution based on a micro version of this chipset.
The SB51G is about hit the retail channel in a big way. Exactly what's new in this version ?, how does it perform with a dedicated graphics card as well as Intel's own on-board solution ?, and is it worth the money ?. Let's try to answer some of these important questions as we look this SFF PC in a little greater detail.