Shuttle's SD32G2 is a good proposal for entry level users looking for a SFF system. It supports all currently sold Intel processors for the 775 socket - Intel® Core™ 2 Duo/ Intel® Pentium® D/Intel® Pentium® 4/ Intel® Celeron® D processor (except Quad core probably). Based on Intel's 945G Express chipset, it comes with the Intel GMA950 on board to power up the system. While it's not the fastest solution, it can serve you well for everyday use and it doesn't produce any noise.
In all our tests, the SD32G2 was generally slower that the Foxconn P9657AB motherboard. This is due to the fact that the SD32G2 supports only up to 333MHz memory modules (DDR2 667MHz), and not the full DDR2 800 (400MHz). We were able to set however, low timings that may offer some additional boost. On the bright side, with this box you won't need to (shouldn't) buy "expensive" memory modules since it is not an overclockers dream box.
The overall build quality is good, but you need to handle the box with some care. The total weight of 3.2kg (without anything installed) is good, the box feels solid and the brushed silver aluminium has a nice finish and overall look. Compared with our old box (AOpen XCube EZ65-II) it feels smaller. Opening the box is very easy but what we didn't like are the allen screws used for the storage bay at the front front. They look nice, but you have to have a set of allen keys to remove them. Alternatively, Shuttle should include the correct allen key in the retail package.
The board design is clean in layout. There is free space around the CPU area, since Shuttle has designed the Integrated Cooling Engine (ICE) Module. Aluminium is used, but we would like to see a copper design here, more efficient! There are two memory banks for up to 2x1GB memory modules, enough for our use. What we didn't find adequate was that there are only two (2) SATAII connectors. This is fine if you want to install two 3.5" HDD, but what if my 5.25" optical drive has a SATA connection also? You can also install a third 3.5" HDD drive but on the IDE channel. There's also a floppy connector, but we didn't use it.
Shuttle offers several expansion modules for additional: USB2.0 ports, card reader, WiFi, SPDIF, etc. But, you have to pay extra in order to get them. Probably, the WiFi should have been a standard inclusion, as almost all users now have wireless access at home or in the office. But then again, this may have impacted on the price which has been kept low.
In our overclocking experiments, this box could reach up to 310MHz FSB. While it isn't the best you can get from an Intel based motherboard, considering that this is a SFF system, it's a good performance. If overclocking fails, the system won't POST back automatically, and you need to push the Clear CMOS button located on the back. This is a nice touch, since you won't require access to the motherboard.
Passing to the all important noise levels, we were not very satisfied with the box, compared with the AOpen XCube EZ-65II. The box is not very good at dampening noise, probably due to the build material (aluminium). Shuttle hasn't included any shock absorbing rubber mounts for the HDD and optical drive. These produced some noise on our system, and we are still trying to "modify" our box so that it will eventually become truly "noiseless".
The on board VGA (Intel GMA950) offers "basic" performance. You will be able to view HD videos without any problems, but for 3D games you will need something much faster. The built-in PSU can handle graphics cards like the Nvidia 7600GT and 7900GS without any problems. Bigger cards won't fit in, due to the small box size.
Ending our presentation, we are satisfied with our purchase. We had a strong belief in Shuttle's name and at an initial cost of €325, you can start building a SFF PC that can prove to be a good companion for many years. As always, the choice is yours. From our point of view, it is a recommended product.
- Small dimensions and light weight
- Very good finish and solid aluminium structure
- Supports up to 667MHz DDR2 memory, save money with low budget memory
- Generally good performance with Intel C2D CPUs
- Enough room to keep CPU temperature low
- Internal space is tidy, you won't have problems installing all pieces together
- Supports most currently sold Intel CPUs (except Quad Core)
- Has extra PCI and PCI-E slots for easy upgrades
- Shuttle offers several expansions for USB2.0, Wifi and card readers but at additional cost :-(
- Can be overclocked under Windows via XPC Tools
- Has good overclocking capabilities, even though it is not suggested
- Built-in PSU can handle VGA cards like Nvidia 7600GT/7900GS
- Has VISTA drivers
- Front LEDs are too bright!
- Aluminium case scratches easily
- Box is generally noisy mainly due to HDD/optical drive vibrations, you will need to modify box to make it truly noiseless
- Built-in CPU fan seems kind of noisy
- Doesn't offer out of the box DVI or HDMI output for media center box use
- Screws on front are not standard philips but allen (hex) type
- Retail package doesn't include any additional SATA cable
- We would like to have more than two SATA connections