The Shuttle XPC SN41G2
Small Form Factor + nForce2 = Perfect Combination

By, Marco Chiappetta
February 27, 2003

Setup & Quality
Small?  You Betcha!

  

Front Mounted Connectors:

  • 2 x USB ports

  • 1 x 1394 port

  • 1 x SPDIF-Out

  • 1 x Mic-In

  • 1 x Speaker-Out

  • Power-On button

  • Reset button

Rear Mounted Connectors:

  • PS/2 Mouse & Keyboard

  • 2 x DB-15 VGA ports

  • 1 x S-Video / Composite port

  • 1 x Serial Port

  • 2 x 1394 ports

  • 2 x USB ports

  • 1 x RJ45 port

  • 1 x Front out connector

  • 3 x Audio-Out Ports (Rear, Front and Center / Bass)

     

     

Shuttle did a great job designing the SN41G2's enclosure.  Obviously, because the system is so small, there is a very limited amount of room inside the case.  Luckily, the drive tray is easily removable, which makes working within the system surprisingly painless.  We were also happy to see the Northbridge was actively cooled, and were even happier when we found the fan was almost inaudible.  About our only gripe was with the internal case wiring.  The rigid cables running to the front mounted ports were in a terrible location, and made installing our Radeon 9700 Pro a chore, because they were draped directly over the AGP slot.  It was nothing some wire-ties and "creative routing" couldn't fix, but we hope this is the next area where Shuttle improves their XPC line.  Why they don't use flat ribbon cables, routed under the motherboard is beyond me.  The power supply cabling was a bit messy as well, but in the end there was nothing we couldn't clean up with a little effort.

The BIOS
Limited, but Good Enough

     

     

  

The SN41G2 is equipped with a fairly complete Award / Phoenix v.6.00G BIOS.  From within the BIOS, users have complete control over all of the system's integrated components and even have a few options for tweaking system performance.  The most configurable component has got to be the integrated graphics processor.  There are toggles for setting the IGP's frame buffer size (up to 128MB), AGP aperture, AGP8X support and Fast Write capabilities.  There are some useful tools in the PC Health Section of the BIOS also.  The 80mm exhaust fan throttles up or down based on the internal system temperature.  The temperature at which the fan speed changes can be specified.  A system shut-down temperature can also be set within the PC Health section of the BIOS.  User's also have the ability to tweak memory timings, to eek every last bit of performance from the system.

Overclocking Experience:

The SN41G2's BIOS is lacking any significant overclocking options.  The CPU's Front Side Bus (FSB) can be set to any speed between 100MHz and 200MHz, in 1MHz increments, but there are no voltage tweaks available at all.  We tried to overclock our Athlon XP 2700+ by raising the FSB and sadly were only able to hit a 170MHz FSB, a meager 4MHz increase for a top CPU speed of only 2210GHz.  Heat is definitely a consideration with these tiny enclosures though, so overclocking with them is not a great idea.  Hardcore overclockers should definitely look elsewhere.

NVIDIA's Control Panels
Full Featured Audio

     

     

NVIDIA has earned a reputation for developing some of the best video drivers in the business.  They seem to have given the same attention to the audio drivers used with the MCP-T.  The integrated GeForce 4 graphics processor uses the same Detonator drivers as NVIDIA's line of add-in video boards, so we won't bore you with any screenshots.  What you may not have seen before are NVIDIA's audio control panels.  Pictured above are the six main sections of MCP-T audio drivers.  As you can see, the controls are well laid out and very complete.  There are a wide range of selectable speaker configurations, and surround sound settings.  A quick listening session with a set of Logitech Z-680s proved audio output was very good, rivaling every other integrated solutions out there.  It wasn't quite on par with an Audigy 2, but output was still very good.  Unless you have the need for high-end audio recording, you won't have to substitute an add-in sound card for the MCP-T.

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