g5 Shuttle A64 PCIe SFFs : ST20G5 & SN25P

Today, we bring you Shuttle’s latest innovations, the ST20G5 featuring the ATI Xpress 200, the first chipset featuring onboard DirectX 9.0 graphics, and the SN25P, Nforce 4 packed into a pretty Shuttle P chassis. How does the ST20G5 fare against the SN25P? Click to find out more!

sff Shuttle A64 PCIe SFFs : ST20G5 & SN25P

Introduction

Shuttle has came a long way with their line of Small-Form Factor Computers,
with their unique XPC casings and feature-rich motherboards all compacted into
a pretty cube. Today, We bring you Shuttle’s latest Innovations, the ST20G5
featuring the ATI Xpress 200, the first chipset featuring onboard DirectX 9.0
graphics, and the SN25P, Nforce 4 Ultra packed into a pretty Shuttle P chasis.
How does the ST20G5 fare against the SN25P? We’ll find out in this very review.
First, let’s take a look at their basic specifications…

Specifications

Model
SN25P
ST20G5
CPU
Support
All AMD Socket 939 Athlon 64 and FX processors
Memory
Support
2 slots, DDR400, 2GB max
Northbridge
Nforce 4 MCP
ATI Xpress 200
Expansion
Slots

One PCIe x16
One PCIe x1

One PCIe x16
One PCI 32bit/33MHz
Onboard
VGA
N / A
ATI Radeon Xpress 200
Audio
8 Channel Audio via VIA Envy 24PT PCI via VIA VT1617
& Wolfson WM8728 DAC
8 Channel HDAudio via ULI M1573 Southbridge &
Realtek ALC880
IDE
1 * ATA133
1 * ATA133
SATA
2
4
Networking
Nvidia NF4 MCP Gigabit via Marvell Alaska 88E1111
Broadcom 5751 (PCIE) Gigabit
RAID
NV SATA/PATA RAID 0,1, JBOD
ULi 1573 SATA RAID 0,1,JBOD
Firewire
Firewire 400 via VIA VT6307
Southbridge
N / A
ULi 1573
Expansion
Bays

4x 3.5″
1x 5.25″

2x 3.5″
1x 5.25″
Powersupply
SilenX 350W
SilenX 240W
Card
Reader
8 in 1 Card Reader
N / A
Chassis
Dimensions
220mm(W)x210mm(H)x325mm(l)
200mm(W)x185mm(H)x310mm(L)

Initial Impressions

These two SFFs scream of quality and elegance; the brushed aluminum finish
of the ST20G5 front panel is pretty mesmerising, as I always have a soft spot for
chassis with that brushed alu look, although it’ll be perfect if Shuttle can
make the front panel fully aluminum in their next line of G chassis as it’ll
really improve the looks of the chassis. The SN25P doesn’t lose out to its competition
either, with it’s black alu chassis and it’s highly reflective front panel I’d
say it’d look as good, if not better if placed beside the ST20G5.

Let’s take a look at the features that justify why anyone should consider bringing
one of these pretty little boxes home from the stores. Firstly, Let’s take a
look at the ST20G5.

The ST20G5 features the latest ATI Xpress 200 chipset with the built in Xpress
200 IGP, featuring a 2 pixel pipeline achitecture. According to ATI, the IGP
should equate to a Radeon X300 card running on 64MB of memory, and that is
perhaps the best onboard graphic that you can get in the market now, with that
kind of performance, it simply leaves the Intel GMA900 Graphics accelerator
in the dust. Shuttle could have perfected the onboard video by adding a 16/32MB onboard frame buffer, but sadly, it was ommited.

The other unique feature that the SFF boasts is the SurroundView™
monitor support. Like all other boards that come with Radeon IGP integrated, the
ST20G5 allows you to plug in an additional ATI graphics card to enable triple
displays. The SFF also comes with a DVI port for Digital Flat Panel displays,
and that’s perhaps the first that you ever saw in an SFF. The ULi 1573 southbridge coupled with the Realtek ALC880 is also HD capable.

Next, let’s look at the SN25P. The SN25P features the Nvidia Nforce 4 MCP with
support for a 1GHz HT link, just like the NF4 Ultra MCP. The only important
feature that you are missing out will perhaps be the SATA-II support that the
Ultra MCP offers. You still get the Gigabit LAN, 1GHz HT link, NVRAID and the
Nvidia firewall capabilities.

The other feature that people might be interested in is perhaps the onboard
sound solution that Shuttle adopted for the SN25P. Instead of utilising the
AC97 capabilities of the Nforce 4 MCP, Shuttle chooses to place VIA’s Envy 24PT
audio controller onboard, coupled up with VIA’s VT1617A 8 channel DAC and Wolfson’s
WM8728 DAC. The Envy24PT supports 24bit Audio at sampling rates of up to 96kHz,
and coupled up with VIA’s VT1617A(20bit/96kHz) and the high end Wolfson WM8728
DAC(24/192), making this one of the best onboard audio solutions you can get in the
market now. Perhaps this is Shuttle’s way of compensating for the lack of a
32bit PCI slot on FN25, the motherboard used in the SN25P.