Shuttle SB95P V2 XPC Review

Admin - 2007-01-16 16:58:58 in Prebuilts
Category: Prebuilts
Reviewed by: Admin   
Reviewed on: May 25, 2005
Shuttle
Shuttle
Price: $410 USD


Introduction
Today we'll be taking a look at the SB95P V2 XPC or otherwise known as a Small Form Factor PC. Shuttle has become the mainstream provider for small form factor PC's. The small form factor audience mainly consists of; Gamers - who want a very lightweight and compact box to take to and from LAN party's, Home Theater Users - who are looking to setup a full multimedia center, and then we have the other users such as the ones who are seeking to regain their desktop space. Whatever your genre is, Shuttle's XPC line is bound to have a box for your needs. The XPC model that we are looking at today shows off new technologies such as DDR2 and PCI Express.

We will be thoroughly testing the SB95P V2 and taking this review at an upgrade or comparison approach. We'll determine what benefits, if any, PCI Express offers us by testing two cards identical cards side by side - one being PCI Express and the other AGP. We'll also do a memory comparison to find out if DDR2 is really worth the upgrade. Let's go ahead and dig in to the review!


Specifications
Processor Intel® LGA775 Pentium® 4 / Celeron D®
Memory Dual-channel DDR2 533/400(2) DIMM slots (4GB max)
Motherboard FB95 (proprietary)Intel® 925XE + ICH6-R chipset
1066/800/533 MHz FSB
(1) x1 PCI Express slot
Graphics (1) x16 PCI Express slot
Audio 8-channel audioDigital (SPDIF) audio ports
Analog audio ports
Network Gigabit LAN
Storage (4) Serial ATA 150 headers RAID (0, 1) with Intel® Matrix Storage Technology
(1) FDD header
(1) IDE header
(1) 5.25” storage bay
(3) 3.5” storage bays
Front-panel I/O 8-in-1 card reader(2) USB 2.0 ports
FireWire® 400 port
Microphone port
Headphone port
Power button
Reset button
Rear-panel I/O PS/2 Keyboard socket PS/2 Mouse socket
(2) USB 2.0 ports
FireWire® 400 port
Gigabit LAN (RJ-45)
8-channel audio out
SPDIF I/O ports
Coaxial Audio port
Serial port
CMOS Reset button
Optional Parallel port
Silent X (system cooling) Integrated Cooling Engine (ICE) Intelligently-engineered airflow mechanics
Power Supply Silent X 350W
Dimensions (L x W x H, mm) 325 x 210 x 220
Weight (net / gross; kg, lbs) 4.25 (9.35) / 6.05 (13.31)





What's Included
  • Installation Guide
  • Motherboard Manual
  • RAID User Manual
  • Intel RAID Drivers
  • Shuttle CD (Drivers)
  • Shuttle Software CD (Acrobat Reader, Trend Micro PC-Chillin, Muvee autoProducer)
  • Floppy Cable
  • Hard Drive and Floppy Rails
  • Serial ATA Cable
  • Thermal Grease
  • (4) Thumb Screws
  • (4) Chrome Front Feet




Closer Look: Inside & Out



The Shuttle SB95P V2 is mostly black with the exception to the front bezel which is a metallic silver - which almost looks like frosted glass at first glance. Up top, there is an 8-in-1 memory card reader for easy access to digital camera images or other memory card devices. The memory card reader takes place of the 3.5" internal floppy drive, but who needs one of those now days? If you can't live without your floppy drive, Shuttle has made it easy to remove the memory card reader so that you can slide a drive in it's place. We'll talk more about this later on in the review once we tear this beast open!

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Under the memory card reader, there are two external drive bays for a burner or what ever else you can find to stick in them. The top one is special because it has a CD-ROM eject button built-in. This means, you can put a CD-ROM/Burner in the bay and open the CD tray by pressing the button. The spring-loaded 5.25" drive bay door will be pushed open by the CD tray. This keeps those ugly beige colored drives hidden away so that your new Shuttle box can glisten in all of its beauty.

On the next panel we have the round-lit power button, hard drive activity light, and reset button.



At the bottom of the front bezel we have anther stealth panel. Once opened, it reveals an assortment of redirect ports. There is a mic and headphones port, perfect for the gamers who hate having to find the right ports in the back of the computer. There is also (2) USB ports and (1) firewire port - handy for digital cameras, joysticks, web cams and other peripherals.



On either sides of the case there are ventilation holes and a fan that is situated right in the air flow of the CPU. This is one feature I wish they would have put on the SN85G4 XPC that we reviewed last year. The extra air flow can make a BIG difference, especially in Small Form Factor PC's.



On the bottom of the case we find more ventilation holes, and a large cluster of them directly under the CPU socket on the motherboard. Basically, Shuttle has made sure that the area around the CPU is well ventilated to insure low operating temperatures.



In the back of the case we find even more fans! Up top there are two 70mm fans to help cool the hard drives inside and in the middle there is one 80mm fan, which is actually inside of the power supply.

There are two expansion slots for a video card and for what ever else you can throw in there that you may need.



The rear of the motherboard has all of your standard equipped ports such as: Serial, USB, Firewire, Mouse, Keyboard, Audio (both analog and digital), TOS-Link, and RCA S/PDIF. There is also a CMOS reset button which makes it easy to reset the CMOS after entering the wrong setting in the BIOS.



After taking the hood off of this beast, I found that Shuttle did a good job with the layout of the system, but they could of spent more time with wire management! I'm still waiting for a company to get fancy with wire management by redesigning the wires so that they can run them in between the metal of the case (hidden away). I guess I'll keep on dreamin' :)



From this view we see the two PCI slots - one 16x slot for a graphics card and a 1x slot for anything else you may need. Behind the PCI-Express slots, there are a total of four SATA headers. To the far left we see are first glimpse of the cooling system Shuttle has developed. We'll take a closer look at this later on in the review.



Here's a birds eye view looking down inside of the Shuttle box, with the Silica Gel still packed inside - oh yeah, don't eat that stuff! At the front, we find the electronics of the memory card reader. On either side there are two black hatches that lock and unlock the memory card reader inside the bay.




Closer Look: Inside & Out


Shuttle also used a similar design on the hard drive cage so that it could easily be removed from the case. All you have to do is popup the black tabs on either side of the cage and then slide the cage out of the bay! Having the hard drive cage out of the case makes it much easier to install hard drives - especially in Small Format Factor PC's.



With the hard drive cage removed we begin to see the other parts of the cooling system. The heat sink is screwed on to the motherboard using spring retention screws, to prevent over tightening. The fan located on the left side blows air across the CPU and then across the specially designed cooling fins where it exits the side of the case.



The copper base of the heat sink was scratched up and had a few knick’s in it. I'll probably lap the base to give it a smoother finish. There are a total of four heatpipes that connect to the cooling fins from the heat sink base. SilentX actually designed this cooling system which was based on the I.C.E cooling system found in earlier model Shuttle's like ours that we reviewed last year.



Now that the cooling system has been removed, all we have left is the CPU socket on the motherboard and the side cooling fan off to the right. Of course you'll want to remove the black protector that is on top of the CPU socket, before trying to install your CPU.



Without further ado I present you our victim for today, the Intel P4 3.4GHz CPU. Brand new out of the box, we'll see what she can do along side with this Shuttle XPC. I'll go ahead and pop this new beauty in the Shuttle.



Here is a picture of the side cooling fan, which helps blow air out of the case and away from our soon to be overclocked P4 CPU. Shuttle even made the door hinged, so you can have easier access to the memory modules and for cleaning the fan.



There are two DDR2 memory slots located to the left of the CPU and under the power supply unit. The memory should be easy to install since there aren't any obstacles in the way. From this picture, you can also see the passively cooled north bridge and south bridge chips.



In the rear, we find two 70mm thermal controlled fans which blow hot air out of the case. You can adjust the fans from within the BIOS and we'll see more about that later on in the review. Shuttle went with a beefy 350Watt power supply unit, to make sure our power hungry P4 and peripherals have all of the power that they need.




Closer Look: BIOS


Shuttle chose to go with the ever so popular Phoenix AwardBIOS, which is a very common BIOS these days. By default, there is a BIOS splash screen but it can be removed if you prefer to see the entire POST (Power On Self Test).

 


You're able to manually enable or disable the USB Controller and the USB 2.0 Controller from the Onboard Devices screen. From here, you may also adjust the High Definition Audio and enable or disable the onboard LAN Boot ROM. You're other standard options are here also like the ability to enable or disable the Onboard FDC controller, serial port, and parallel port.



The PC Health status screen gives us two settable options; CPU Fan Speed Control and System Fan Speed Control. The CPU fan speed control adjusts the FAN1 header on the motherboard, which is usually the CPU fan. The system fan speed will control the FAN3 header on the motherboard. The options range from percentage, which is the percentage of the fan's speed (RPM) capability and also an automatic thermal control mode. When set to thermal controlled mode (Smart Fan), the CPU Temp Tag setting will become available directly under the fan settings. From here, you may adjust the temperature at which the CPU fan will go at full speed.



Finally we arrive at probably the most important screen (besides the PC Health), the Frequency/Voltage Adjustment screen. From here, we can adjust all of the parameters related to our CPU and RAM. We have the following settings at our disposal: CAS latency, RAS to CAS delay, RAS Precharge delay, Precharge delay (tRAS) or otherwise known as Active to Precharge Delay, and Refresh mode.



Under the RAM settings, is the CPU clock speed setting along with the current clock speed. The maximum FSB option is 355MHz, which should be more than enough for most of us overclockers.

Voltage options go up to 1.58 for the CPU, 1.90 on the RAM, and 1.70 for the chipset. Definitely not the highest of configurable settings, but it should be enough to get a decent overclock with.

Last but not least, is the LED brightness setting. From here you can adjust the brightness of the LED's on the front of the Shuttle. A nice touch, if I do say so myself.




Test Setup
System 1 System 2
Intel P4 3.4GHz AMD Athlon 64 3200+
Shuttle SB95P V2 Shuttle AN51R
Crucial ValueSelect R Corsair TWINX1024-3200XLPro
WD 60GB 8MB 7,200 IDE Hard Drive WD 74GB 8MB 10,000RPM SATA Hard Drive
Windows XP Pro w/ SP2 Windows XP Pro w/ SP2



Benchmark: Applications
PCMark04
PCMark04 is an application-based benchmark and a premium tool for measuring overall PC performance. It uses portions of real applications instead of including very large applications or using specifically created code. This allows PCMark04 to be a smaller installation as well as to report very accurate results. As far as possible, PCMark04 uses public domain applications whose source code can be freely examined by any user.







SiSoft Sandra
Sandra 2005 developed by SiSoftware, is a premier application benchmarking tool. Sandra allows you to test just about every aspect of your computer to obtain comparative results. We'll be using Sandra 2005 to test CPU and memory bandwidth.










Benchmark: Gaming
3DMark05
The test was run with all of the default settings in 3DMark05. We had Texture and Mipmap details set to "High Quality" within the Display Properties under DirectX. We do this because most gamers will have these settings while gaming, so why should our benchmark setup be any different?



3DMark03
The test was run with all of the default settings in 3DMark03. We had Texture and Mipmap details set to "High Quality" within the Display Properties under DirectX. We do this because most gamers will have these settings while gaming, so why should our benchmark setup be any different?



Aquamark 3
Aquamark 3 is an great tool for comparisons since it uses a real game engine and utilizes DirectX 9, and has many advance techniques that can really take a toll on your video card.



Unreal Tournament 2004
Our Unreal Tournament 2004 (Review) botmatch demo was setup with all of the default settings, running at 1280x1024.






Overclocking
Unfortunately, I did not have a lot of time to complete this review and because of the time constraints, I was not able to spend a lot of time overclocking the system. However, I was able to bump the FSB up to 225MHz making the 3.4GHz oced to 3.82GHz and that's even with the cheap Value Select memory that I used. I didn't touch any of the voltage options either, I probably could of got more out of it if I had tried.

As I mentioned earlier in the BIOS, the voltage settings are a bit limited, but again; it should be enough to get at decent overclock with. Even I got a decent overclock, without even touching the voltages. Needless to say, with the limited amount of time I spent overclocking the system, I'm very pleased - it did a much better job that our previous Shuttle box.

Below are a few benchmarks comparing the stock results and the overclocked results.

PCMark04
PCMark04 is an application-based benchmark and a premium tool for measuring overall PC performance. It uses portions of real applications instead of including very large applications or using specifically created code. This allows PCMark04 to be a smaller installation as well as to report very accurate results. As far as possible, PCMark04 uses public domain applications whose source code can be freely examined by any user.



SiSoft Sandra
Sandra 2005 developed by SiSoftware, is a premier application benchmarking tool. Sandra allows you to test just about every aspect of your computer to obtain comparative results. We'll be using Sandra 2005 to test CPU and memory bandwidth.







Unreal Tournament 2004
Our Unreal Tournament 2004 (Review) botmatch demo was setup with all of the default settings, running at 1280x1024.






Conclusion
The Shuttle SB95P V2 XPC was definitely built for the power users who are seeking every ounce of performance. The beefed up power supply unit, PCI-Express, DDR2 memory, and upgraded cooling system makes this box appeal to the power users, gamers, and overclockers alike. While the cables inside could have been neater, I was still pleased with the layout inside. Shuttle made it very easy to swap out hard drives and replace the memory card reader with a floppy drive. More and more motherboard manufactures are installing CMOS reset switches on the back of the motherboard, for easy access. This Shuttle box was no exception, we found the reset switch very handy while tweaking the bios during our testing. I was very pleased with the performance that the SB95P V2 offered over my current Althon 64 setup. I had absolutely no stability issues and the box ran a LOT cooler than any other SFF PC I've seen, thanks to the new cooling system Shuttle has designed.


The bottom line is, If you're seeking a SFF box with a beefy setup then be sure to take a second look at the Shuttle SB95P V2 - you really can't go wrong.

Pros

  • Performance
  • Appearance
  • Stability
  • Configurability

 

Cons

  • Voltage Settings


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