Shuttle SD11G5: Pentium-M SFF PC

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TESTING continued

Configuration 2: With nVidia 6800GT PCIe video card

  • AOpen Aeolus 6800GT-DV256 PCIe video card was used in place of the onboard video. All other components remained the same.

    The switch to PCIe-X16 required a change in the J1 jumpers of the motherboard, right next to the PCIe video card slot. The switch from 2-3 to 1-2 is best done before installing the video card. It consists of repositioning two strips of 6 jumpers each.

J1 jumpers (one pair) set up for onboard DVI output on left, for PCIe X16 on right.

Getting the big 6800GT card in place called for a bit of finess and care, but it's the same in any other SFF system where space is always a bit tight. The 6-pin 12V connector for the video card is well placed for easy insertion on the video card. The stock fan on the Aeolus was undervolted to 5V using a Zalman Fanmate 2 as shown below.

High performance AOpen Aeolus 6800GT video card installed; stock fan undervolted to 5V w/ Zalman fanmate2.

SD11G5 w/ AOpen Aeolus 6800GT VGA
System Activity
AC Power
CPU Temp
Board Temp?†
23 dBA
23 dBA
Full Load
26 dBA
26 dBA
* Peak value. Sustained maximum was 125~130W.
† It's not clear what several temp sensors picked up by SpeedFan are actually monitoring. These readings are from the sensor that always gave the highest temps — just for the record.

With the addition of the 6800GT card, idle power jumped 42 watts, or slightly more than double compared to Configuration 1. This difference stayed fairly consistent through all the various system activities, except for 3DMark05. The highest peak for AC power of 133W was seen during 3DMark05, but it was only for a second or two. That was a whopping 75W higher than with the onboard video, much more than double the power. The longest sustained maximum (more than a few seconds) was about 130W.

The >130W AC power draw seen during 3DMark05 suggests that the 6800GT was adding a minimum of ~25W additional heat into the small volume of the case (compared to CPUBurn). This assumes a minimum conversion efficiency in the AC/DC adapter of ~70%; such devices can often approach 90% efficiency. Yet, the CPU temperature was unaffected by the additional heat, partly as a result of the Smart Fan setting, which increased fan speed to compensate for the additional heat in the system. Also, despite the much reduced speed of the VGA cooling heatsink/fan (HSF), there was no evidence of video misbehavior through several loops of 3DMark05 benchmarking. All this suggests that the side vent of the SD11G5 allows enough cooler outside air intake for a hot video card. The 6800GT is not the hottest card around, but it's close, and newer top-end video cards actually appear to be improving in power/heat efficiency. Overall, the airflow and thermal management design of the SD11G5 appears very good.

The noise level went up mostly because of the fan in the 6800GT, even though it was reduced down to 5V. At high load, the Smart Fan speeding up a bit more also added to the noise, but overall, the increase was a very modest 2~3 [email protected], which is excellent given the more than doubling of total heat in the system (from 56W in Config 1 to 130W in Config 2). If anything, the character of the noise was slightly more palatable because the annoying buzzing of the stock fan was masked a bit by more broadband wind turbulence noise.

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