Shuttle SD11G5 Review
A side view of the bare machine. The little PCB we see on the left hand side of the machine is actually the audio subsystem of the SD11G5, containing the DAC and ADC of the Creative Sound Blaster Live! 24 bit PCI sound on the machine, a good move by Shuttle, as porting the sound subsystem off the main board also means that the subsystem will be less likely to be affected by the electronic ‘noise’ emitted by the electronic components of the mainboard.
Fans of Small-Form-Factor machines will definitely notice something different in the first picture above. There isn’t a power supply in the system! Shuttle has ported out te power supply to an external power adaptor, reducing heat output within the system. This means that the irritating 40mm fan found in the power supplies of Shuttle barebones aint there anymore! weee!
The modified power supply within the SD11G5
Wait a minute, how will the other components of the system draw power from? There isn’t a power supply to provide power connectors for the components anymore! Instead of direct DC power from the power suply, Shuttle has introduced a power output connector from the mainboard itself. From this 10 pin connector, Shuttle has included 2 SATA power connectors, 2 4 pin power connectors and 1 PCI-Express VGA Adaptor connector that subsequently branches out from this connector. I wouldn’t say that this is a good implementation, as the manboard base got scorching hot after an hour or two of operation, and heat is afterall, the ultimate foe of any electronic component.
Connectivity Options available
The front panel connectors. over here, you’ll see a audio in, audio out, 2 USB 2.0 connectors and a 4 pin firewire connector.
A look at the back panel. With the sound subsystem ported upwards, it means that Shuttle has also given themselves more room to play around with the back I/O panel of the machine, allowing them to include more connectivity options onto the backpane of this little monster.
Along with the capabilities of the Intel GMA900 onboard video accelerator, Shuttle has included a DVI-D connector driven by a Silicon Image Sil1362CLU DVI transmitter along with a standard VGA D-SUB 15 pin connector. Shuttle has also included a composite video out connector for HTPC usage for televisions without a D-SUB or DVI connector.
A ‘clear CMOS’ button is also included in the back panel, beside it is a 6 pin IEEE1394a connector provided by the VIA VT6307 firewire controller. Towards the utmost right, you’ll see the 6 pin DC in connector that will draw power via the 220W external power adaptor. You’ll also get a RJ 45 jack powered by the Broadcom BCM 5789 Gigabit PCI-Express Gigabit LAN chip, 2 PS/2 ports and 2 Hi-Speed USB 2.0 connectors.
The FD11 mainboard
Here, on the right, you’ll see the PCI-Express x16 slot, x1 slot, 2 SATA connectors and 1 IDE connectors. on this board, you will not find any floppy connectors. On the right, you can see the heatsinks covering both the northbridge and southbridge.
From top left to bottom right, in clockwise direction 1) Silicon Image DVI transmitter 2) Broadcom PCI-Express LAN 3) mini-PCI, sound and firewire chip 4) Sound DAC and ADC chips
In the pictures above, you’ll see a myriad of black little chips that give the the FD11 mainboard very impressive features. I’ll start from the 3rd picture since I’ve more or less covered the first two in the paragraphs above.
In the third picture, you see a mini-PCI slot beside the Creative sound chip and the VIA firewire chip. That allows users to plug in a wireless card, pretty nifty especially when there isn’t any PCI 32bit slots found onboard. The downside being, mini-PCI wireless cards aren’t readily available off-shelves in computer stores, as there really isn’t a market for them as most mini-PCI slots are found in notebooks.
In the fourth picture, you’ll see a Cirrus Logic CS4382 Digital-to-Analouge Codec and a Wolfson WM8775 Analouge-to Digital Codec. Both of these are pretty decent codecs that you’ll rarely find as onboard audio solutions. The audio solution found on the FD11 mainboard is exactly the same as the MSI P4N Diamond that we reviewed a while back.
The heatsink provided with the SD11G5 is significantly smaller than those provided with its Athlon64 and Pentium 4 counterparts. the heatsink came nicely spreaded with thermalpaste and a nice shroud to protect the fragile Heat-spreader-less core of the Pentium M processor. Pretty thoughtful of Shuttle here.