No More Penny-Pinching: Seven Mini-PCs On The Catwalk

Shuttle XPC SB75G2: Mini For Power Users

The top model in the performance class: Shuttle SB75G2 with Intel 875P chipset

A look at the ports

Several THG employees saw it coming a long way off: Shuttle integrates the 875P chipset - which Intel like to call its workstation chip - into an XPC-series bare-bones. That puts the SB75G2 model for the P4 platform right at the top, at least on the performance scale. To be sure, none of the competitors offers a system with this chipset. The case, consisting entirely of aluminum, is black enamel throughout. It makes its mark visually with the chrome screws and the buttons on the front. In general, the XPC SB75G2 makes the highest-quality impression of all of the test candidates. The case can be opened with little physical effort and, and all mechanical components have narrow tolerances - a feature that is not yet a given in PCs. Otherwise, the equipment can be compared to that of the SB61G2 Reflexion: Except for the WLAN, card reader and onboard graphics, the features are identical to the anniversary model. On the back of the case there is an additional serial interface - almost a placeholder - rather than a VGA output. In the case of the power supply, too, Shuttle relies on tried-and-true technology - it uses a 220-watt model. Common weaknesses familiar from the other models in the XPC series are seen in the SB75G2 as well: A wild undergrowth of cables that will prompt fits of fury in anyone not patient during assembly, with a sandwich arrangement when several hard disks are used (RAID setup). The CPU cooling by heat pipe and its noise level were the subject of much discussion and testing.

Our recommendation for expansion of a multi-functional high-end system in mini-format: the Intel P4 3.2 EE in combination with 1 GB DDR400 RAM, a 120 GB hard drive with 7200 rpm and 8 MB cache, a Radeon 9800 and a digital TV card with HDTV capability (for example, Hauppauge WinTV HD or Technisat Skystar 2).

In summary, THG has decided: In terms of quality workmanship, the Shuttle SB75G2 beats the competition hands down. In appearance, too, the uniform coloring and will impress design-oriented customers in particular. The rest of the equipment is almost identical to that of the Reflexion special model. Anyone whose wallet is a priority should back off from this visual delicacy and keep an eye out among the competition.