The Mailman Has Arrived: Four Mini-PCs on the Test Bench

Shuttle XPC SB61G2: First-Class Equipment With Weaknesses, Continued

As already mentioned in previous tests, the thermal design of the Shuttle has not yet reached maturity. Especially when using a fast CPU (2.8 GHz and higher) in combination with an efficient AGP graphics card (ATi Radeon 9700 Pro), a hard disk with 7200 U/min and a CD drive, the limits of this mini-system become evident. As the fan of the heat pipe is the only circulation provider, the airflow does not reach the hard disk. The result is heat congestion (sandwich arrangement), so that outages can be expected when permanently in use.

In addition, the operating noise increases drastically when the speed of the large fan increases. Here, the temperature control in the BIOS is also of no use, which only shows its effect if the system is subjected to low-level stress. During the test operation run we frequently observed that the speed was continuously adjusted upward and downward. Sensitive users might be easily irritated by this. On the other hand, Shuttle has not cut any corners when it comes to the Northbridge cooling system, and has opted for an active cooler. All in all, Shuttle offers the best workmanship combined with the most up to date hardware. Apart from a Gigabit LAN connection (100 MBit, factory installed), all interfaces are provided. Details such as the missing cover for the component pockets show that Shuttle sees the XPC more as a PC for the office.

Shuttle's sandwich system is a poor construction. The hard disk and other drives (DVD/ CD drive, floppy) are not cooled and may be damaged as a result of heat congestion when permanently in use.