When it comes to
Small Form Factor PCs, there are few brands able to keep up with Shuttle.
Shuttle's toaster-sized barebones computers continue to be successful because
the company delivers fresh technology in a quality package. On the inside,
Shuttle SFF PCs are quiet in operation, have an amazing ease of assembly, other
from a consumer perspective are aggressively priced.
shines in its support too. At the very least Shuttle has a phone
number on its support website that you can call if you have problems.
Other manufacturers often keep to email or forums correspondence which is
useless when your computer is down. For
users, the nicest aspect of a Shuttle SFF PC is its simplicity. I would
almost go so far as to borrow a very famous slogan and say "It's a Shuttle",
were it not for the army of lawyers at Sony who patrol for such infractions.
In this review, PCSTATS
testing out Shuttle's glossy-black XPC SG33G50 small formfactor barebones PC. Like all barebones computers,
the Shuttle XPC SG33G50 includes the case, motherboard, CPU heatsink and powersupply. You provide an Intel
Core 2 Duo/Quad processor, the DDR2 memory, a SATA hard drive and optical drive. Installation
is straight forward and well documented, so you can be up and computing in less than 30
As if it needs to be said, Intel's socket 775 Core 2 Duo
and Core 2 Quad processors are the only processors on the market that really
matter right now. The previous Shuttle SFF PC PCSTATS tested was an excellent Athlon64 platform, but the Core
2 Duo has left AMD in a bit of a tale spin lately. Anyway, Shuttle's XPC
SG33G50 and is the new kid on the block and it's based on the Intel G33
Express Northbridge and ICH9DH Southbridge chipsets. In short, that means it has
an integrated Intel GMA3100 video and comes with the usual collection of features; Gigabit networking, IEEE 1394a Firewire, 7.1 channel
High Definition Azalia sound and lots of USB2.0 ports.
More importantly, the Shuttle XPC SG33G50 has a dedicated HDMI video jack and
two eSATA ports for external storage devices. These are incredibly handy for, say, a
pair of 500GB external hard drives full of your movies and music.
Video outputs are split between the analog video jack and the HDMI jack which doubles
as a DVI monitor connector with a special HDMI-to-DVI adaptor.
Internally there isn't much in the way of expansion.
There are just a few USB headers, a 32 bit PCI slot and one PCI Express x16 slot
for a stand alone videocard. The XPC SG33G50 accomodates a maximum of 4GB of DDR2-800 memory in
its two slots, and supports Intel socket 775 processors running on a 800/1066/1333MHz FSB.
The 250W power supply is not upgradable, but sufficient for for Intel's latest and
greatest CPUs and a good single-slot PCI Express x16 videocard. The XPC
SG33G50 chassis accomodates one 5.25" and two 3.5" drives, nothing more. There
are three SATA channels, one IDE connector (one IDE/SATA are
occupied by default) and one floppy.
Like what you see? The Shuttle
XPC SG33G50 can be yours for about $333 CDN ($333 US, £165 GBP). A typical price point for most barebones
Small Formfactor computers in this class.
Room to Grow?
mentioned, inside the Shuttle XPC SG33G50 there is room enough for one 3.5" hard
drive and a 3.5" FDD and an 5.25" optical drive. That's not much in the way
of expansion, so plan on a larger-than-necessary hard drive from the
start. The barebones computer comes with a 250W power supply with Active
Power Factor Correction. A combination case and processor heatsink is
fitted with noise reducing rubber grommets and a 92mm PWM fan. A
proprietory heatpipe heatsink is included with the barebones kit, and the
CPU mounting holes are such that only the manufacturer supplied thermal solution
can be used.
One 5.25" and 3.5" bay are accessible from the outside, hidden behind flush bezel panels which fold
down. Front panel connectors consist of a collection of audio (mic in, line out),
USB2.0 and mini-Firewire jacks. These are hidde from view when not in use.
From Barebones to Operation
The shiny black Shuttle XPC SG33G50 Small Form Factor PC measures 295 x
180 x 195 mm in size, and is weighs about 8lbs. The chassis and cover
are made of aluminum, the front bezel is glossy black plastic. The
three control buttons on the front of the computer are optical drive eject,
power and some indicator LEDs, the rest of the exterior is refreshing
Inside the system is a 250W A-PFC power supply, which might sound a
little restricting from the get-go, but it has plenty of power to go around.
PCSTATS tested the Shuttle XPC SG33G50 with an Intel Core 2 Duo E6750 processor
and a 150GB WD Raptor and did not encounter any power related issues.
The power supply supports A-PFC which means there is no need for a 115/230V
input voltage selector switch, and less energy will be wasted. There are just
enough power connectors to accommodate the amount of drives and devices that are
installed. As a result, cable clutter is done away with.
To keep vibrations and noise down to a
minimum when the Shuttle XPC SG33G50 is running along, the chassis is
equipped with four soft rubber feet on the bottom. When optical drives spin up there
are occasionally vibrations transmitted to the rest of the computer, and potentially to
the desk or table top below. This can cause noise, if not become rather
distracting over item. The rubberized feet of the XPC SG33G50 do a great job
of reducing vibration transmission from this SFF computer its surroundings. The entire PC stands evenly
on soft rubber feet.
Overall the Shuttle XPC
SG33G50 Small Formfactor barebones PC is a visual treat, and a nice change
from bulky full sized computers that look like soviet era apartment blocks. Small form factor PCs
are compact, which is great for the home or office when you have just
a small corner to tuck a PC into and don't want all the noise of
a full size PC.