Shuttle XPC ST61G4 SFF barebones PC

Complete|Mobile Systems
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July 21, 2004 by Mike Chin

Product
XPC ST61G4
Manufacturer
Shuttle
Market Price
US$310~360

With the longest history behind them and the greatest number of product cycles, you'd expect the originator of the Small Form Factor to be making the most advanced SFF systems around. Our look at the Shuttle Zen earlier this year identified it as the quietest (and one of the smallest) SFF system we'd ever heard, with a host of refinements in technology, execution and ease of assembly for the user.

The XPC Zen achieved its impressive <30 dBA/1m noise performance with two clever but defining aspects:

  • An external fanless power supply, much like a very big notebook PC PSU, and
  • An absence of the AGP slot, with integrated video the only option.

The two are likely related. Leaving an AGP port in the system would open it up to VGA cards that can draw upwards of 75W, which in combination with a powerful P4, would have the capacity to overtax the passive PSU of the Zen. It was a compromise made for noise, and with the good performance of the integrated graphics of the ATI Radeon 9100 chipset in the Zen, it works quite well.

But PC enthusiasts always want it all, and quiet PC enthusiasts wanted the low noise of the Zen along with the power of an AGP video card. Shuttle has something to offers these people as well. The XPC ST61G4 under review is this offering. It combines the same ATI chipset of the Zen in a motherboard that has an AGP port and dual SATA drive support in a slightly larger case along with an internal higher power PSU with a claimed 32 dBA/1m noise level.

In short, the ST61G4 could be a Zen with the option of a powerful AGP video card. Is it? This is the primary question posed by this review.


Photo of ST61G4 courtesy of Shuttle. Why the standard PR photo? Read the text.

The ST61G4 features the matte brushed aluminum cover common to all the Shuttle SFFs. It is the size that seems standard in the current Shuttle XPC line — a little bigger all around than the Zen, but still quite small. The most striking thing about this model is the front facia. The reason the standard PR photo from Shuttle is shown above is because that center portion is a mirror surface. It looks and acts like a glass mirror. Have you tried photographing a mirror without getting all kinds of unwanted reflections in it? You'll see the other photos in this review.

First, the selling features (straight from Shuttle's web site):

KEY FEATURES

A new level of visual splendor
From its excellent integrated graphics to its slick styling, the XPC ST61G4 has been designed to be the hub of your digital life. This small form factor (SFF) computer provides the ultimate in flexibility, versatility and style in one-third the space of a large, loud and ugly PC.

Powerful features
The XPC ST61G4 supports Intel® Pentium® 4 and Celeron® processors, Hyper-Threading technology, as well as cutting-edge ATI RADEON™ 9100 graphics and dual-channel DDR400 memory to power your digital lifestyle.

Advanced connectivity
With FireWire® 400 and USB 2.0 ports built-in, it’s easy to connect all of your peripherals. Onboard TV-out, VGA and SPDIF ports offer a complete palate of options to display your digital files — audio, video and pictures.

Advanced ergonomics
Shuttle’s proprietary Silent X technology makes the XPC ST61G4 Super Quiet, Super Cool. With advanced Integrated Cooling Engine technology, intelligently-engineered airflow mechanics and revolutionary Silent X 250W power supply, putting this SFF computer in your living room, bedroom or office is a natural.

Second, the specifications:



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