The Shuttle SB65G2 & SN85G4 XPCs
They Just Keep Getting Better...

By, Marco Chiappetta
November 13, 2003
 

Assembling the Shuttle SB65G2 was very simple and straight forward.  Getting one of these barebones machines up and running is as easy as inserting your RAM, CPU and video card, and mounting the drives in the removable drive tray.  Then route a few power and drive cables and your done.  We had absolutely no trouble getting the SB65G2 built and powered up in under an hour.  We're sure some of you seasoned HotHardware veterans could do it even faster!

Setup & Quality
Small?  You Betcha!

The SB65G2, as the name implies, is based on Shuttle's all-aluminum G2 enclosure that was first introduced with the SN41G2.  As you'll see a little later, the G2 case seems a bit drab, at least in our opinion, when compared to the style of the new G4, but it is still sleek and very functional.  The sides of the case are perforated with holes designed to draw cool air into the chassis, which is then drawn over the heat-pipe and through the 220 Watt PSU, and is finally expelled out of the rear of the case.  The cooling system seemed very effective, as it kept our 3.2GHz Pentium 4 hovering around 40C at idle.

Front Panel
  • 2 x USB ports
  • 1 x mini1394 port
  • 1 x Line-In
  • 1 x Mic-In
  • 1 x Headphone out
  • 1 x Power-On button
  • 1 x Reset button
Back panel
  • 4 USB2.0 Ports
  • 1 PS/2 Keyboard Port
  • 1 PS/2 Mouse Port
  • 1 IEEE1394 connector
  • 1 Rear out
  • 1 x Front out
  • 1 x Center/Bass Out
  • 1 RJ45 LAN Port
  • 1 Serial Port
  • 1 PCI slot
  • 1 AGP 8X/4X slot

The Shuttle SB65G2 is laden with connectors, on both the front and rear of the system.  Situated on the front fascia are two USB 2.0 ports, a single mini-1394 port, three 1/8" audio connectors (Line In, Microphone In and Headphone Out) and the power and reset switches.  The rear of the system is adorned with three more 1/8" audio connectors (Front, Rear and Center / Bass Out), S/PDIF in and out, four more USB 2.0 ports, a powered IEE1394 connector, a serial port, PS/2 keyboard and mouse ports, an RJ45 LAN port and lastly an antenna mount for the built-in 802.11b wireless Ethernet controller.  As you can see, the externally available connectors leave little to be desired...

The system's internals could use a little work, however.  For the most part, the layout of Shuttle's FB65 motherboard is good, but there are a few things that could have been done better.  We're not big fans of vertically mounted CMOS batteries because the clips are notoriously easy to bend and break off.  We realize board real-estate is limited, but Shuttle could have easily mounted the CMOS battery flush with the board.  Secondly, we're also a bit disappointed that nothing has been done to clean up the thick, white cables used to connect the various headers to the front and rear mounted ports.  These cables contribute greatly to the overall cluttered look of the system's internals and impede on both slots.  We hope Shuttle (and virtually every other SFF system builder for that matter) move the headers to the edge of the motherboard and route the cables underneath.  Doing so would clean up the inside of the system considerably, and would improve airflow to boot.  The rest of the components are well laid out and easily accessible, especially considering the diminutive size of the SB65G2.  The RAM and CPU were easy to install and remove, and all of the included cables are just the right size.

The BIOS
As Complete As They Get

Shuttle has equipped the SB65G2 with a very complete Phoenix / Award BIOS, that should please even the most discriminating power users.  Some SFF systems have traditionally shipped with somewhat limited BIOSes, but not the SB65G2.  The BIOS on this system has a full compliment of options for tweaking the RAM and all of the on-board peripherals.  The system's fan speeds can also be altered for maximum airflow, or minimum noise.  Fans can even be set to spin-up or down at a specified temperature.

In the six screen shots above, you'll find all of the overclocking options available within the SB65G2's BIOS.  The Front Side Bus (FSB) can be set to any frequency between 100MHz and 355MHz, in 1MHz increments.  The AGP, PCI and SATA clock speeds can run asynchronously with the FSB and can be locked at specified frequencies to prevent running drives and video cards too far out of spec.  CPU, AGP and DDR voltages can also be altered.  The CPU voltage can be set as high as 1.85v in .025v increments.  The AGP voltage options range from 1.55v to 1.65v in .05v increments and the available DDR voltages range from 2.65v to 2.75v, in .05v increments.  With the ability to also set memory timings manually, the SB65G2's BIOS gives overclockers all of the tools they need to push their CPU well beyond its rated speed.

Overclocking Experience:

              
SANDRA CPU BENCHMARK                SANDRA CPU BENCHMARK
CPU @ 3.20GHZ                                    CPU @ 3.68GHZ

We set out to see just how high we could push our 3.2GHz Pentium with the SB65G2.  With a modest bump in core voltage up to 1.7v, we slowly raised the FSB until the system was no longer stable.  In the end, we were able to push our particular CPU all the way to 3.68GHz (16 x 230MHz).  Even at this high speed, Shuttle's custom I.C.E heat-pipe CPU cooling system kept the processor relatively cool (hovering around 55C - 60C).

Up Close & Personal with the SN85G4