Shuttle SD11G5: Pentium-M SFF PC

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SYSTEM SETUP

Assembling a system in the SD11G5 is a cinch. A phillips head screw driver is just about the only tool you need, and the step by step manual is very well illustrated. There are some steps that may need a little care or finess, but if you are capable of plugging in connectors, lining up things mechanically before screwing them in place, and double-checking your work before turning on power, you can do this.

The following components were installed in the Shuttle SD11G5:

  • Intel 770 (Pentium M, 2.13 GHz + 2 MB cache) processor
  • 2 x 512 mb Corsair DDR2
  • Seagate 5400.2 SATA 120GB 2.5" notebook HDD - suspended with clothing elastic in 3.5" HDD bays. No floppy drive was used.
  • Microsoft Windows XP Pro SP2 fully updated
  • On-board video as well as AOpen Aeolus 6800GT-DV256 PCIe video card

Even with the extra work of stringing up an elastic suspension for the hard drive, the assembly took less than an hour.

The SD11G5 is designed to accept a standard 3.5" HDD, but in our experience, even the quietest 3.5" desktop HDD makes too much noise — particularly vibration-induced noise — to be recommended for a quiet SFF system. A SFF system is most often placed on top of the desk, within reach of the user for easy access to the optical drive and front panel ports. In such proximity (typically close to ear level 2~4' away), it is almost impossible to obtain a level of noise SPCR considers quiet (<30 dBA/1m) without resorting to the very quietest HDD in an elastic suspension. Our last few SFF systems have all been reviewed with quiet notebook drives for this reason.


Seagate SATA notebook HDD suspended in the two 3.5" bays.

BIOS

There are many user-configurable options in the Phoenix BIOS, as befits an enthusiast PC. The Advanced Chipsets menu shows memory timing configurations and various other settings, including those for VGA.


Advanced Chipset menu

The Frequency Control menu only allows overclocking, up to about 24% above the standard clock speed for a 533 MHz Pentium M. This menu is not exactly a tweaker's delight.


CPU Frequency Control menu.

PC Health

PC Health is the menu that shows all the monitor temperatures, voltages, and fan speeds. The only user adjustable setting here is for the CPU fan. There are five settings in all.

  • Smart Fan (default - 820 rpm)
  • Ultra Low (820 rpm)
  • Low (1,000 rpm)
  • Mid (1,800 rpm)
  • Full (3,000 rpm)

It's interesting to note that even though this is the same fan used in the SN95G5, the maximum speed is 600 RPM slower, which implies that the fan is deliberately limited by the BIOS fan controller. This decision reflects on the cool operation of socket 479 processors for which the SD11G5 is designed.


Fan settings in PC Health Status menu.

Smart Fan and U(ltra) Low are the only settings of real interest to us. Either of these settings resulted in a fan speed of 800 RPM (with the stock fan). In a hotter environment than the SPCR lab's current 20~21°C, it is possible that the Smart Fan setting would result in a higher speed than Ultra Low. The latter is a fixed speed while Smart Fan is thermally controlled, likely tied to the CPU thermal diode output.

Unlike the fan controls in the SN95G5, there is no option for the user to choose the temperature at which the HS fan will start to ramp up in speed. Nor is there any option to choose which fan header is controlled by the fan controller. This features were probably left out deliberately because there is only one fan in the SD11G5 and all the socket 479 processors are so cool-running.

Power Management

The Power Management menu is where Enhanced Intel SpeedStep Technology (EIST) support can be enabled for dynamic, automatic control of CPU clock speed and voltage in order to minimize power consumption — and heat.The enabled setting is Max Saving. (Note: EIST has the same basic functionality as AMD's Cool 'n' Quiet.)


Power Management menu.

The operating system must also support EIST. In Windows XP, this control is under the Power Schemes tab in the Power Options, accessible in the Control Panel. "Max Battery" is the setting to engage EIST.


Windows XP Power Schemes must be set to Max Battery for EIST to work.

EIST brought the processor speed down to 800 MHz and the core voltage down to 0.992V in light load. The system works seamlessly, switching instantly between mininum and maximum speed/voltage as required by the load on the CPU. The details of the effect of EIST on power consumption, temperatures and noise will be dicussed in the testing section.


CPU-Z v1.3 shows CPU clock speed of 801.8 MHz and Vcore of 0.992V in low load on left.
Compare that to high load on right: 2.1382 GHz and 1.328V.



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