2. The Package
3. Looking Inside
4. The BIOS
5. CPU and Chipsets
6. Test Configuration
7. Everest Ultimate Edition 2007
8. SiSOFT Sandra
9. PCMARK - 3DMARK
10. Science Mark - PovRay - x264 Benchmark
11. Maxon Cinebench
13. SYSmark 2007 - WorldBench
15. Intel X3100
16. Using with VISTA
We all know that Small Form Factor PCs are tailored towards specific uses and needs. Shuttle's latest box aims at media center users, using Intel's most recent processors based on the Socket 775. Of course, a modern media center box without High Definition playback content capability is not a good idea, so the Shuttle has included a HDMI port on the back, along with a D-Sub 15 port for those HD-DVD/Blu-Ray protected movies. The Intel GMA 3100 onboard graphics engine is able to support high-definition resolutions optimally, although you have to forget about any serious 3D gaming experience. The latest driver pack seems to improve things a bit, with Shader Model 2 pixels support, but again the low performance is rather disappointing.
The box itself is what we are used to from Shuttle. Its light, well built and has a very impressive facade with integrated VFD display on the front. Many features of Windows Vista's media centre interface can be accessed easily, like information on the playing song, TV programme or DVD. Of course you can add your own custom messages as well. The included remote control is recognized automatically by Windows Media Center, under XP/VISTA. It's comfortable and can be used to further enhance the visual experience.
There are also several other features, like the built-in 7.1 HD audio chip with Dolby Digital Live! and DTS Connect certification and Gigabit-LAN connector. The included 250Watt power supply, is enough to handle two hard disk drives and an optical drive. We don't know if it can handle adding an extra PCI-e card along with other components...
The RAW performance was much better than what we had measured from another Intel Socket 775 boxes (Shuttle SD32G2). The Intel G33 chipset seems faster than Intel's P965 Express in most of our benchmarks. Continuing our test report, we found the Intel GMA 3100 graphic solution pretty good, handling demanding Blu-Ray content (Casino Royal). Despite the fact that the processor utilization reached 99%, the playback was flawless. Of course, you will need the latest graphics drivers and a capable software player (like PowerDVD). Don't expect sound from the analog ports, only via HDMI!
What we didn't like, and this is not Shuttle's fault, is that the Intel display drivers couldn't properly scale the output to our Samsung 32" LCD screen (720p). There are no options to fix this, at least we couldn't find any. We assume this is a problem with the drivers. There might be some fix (PowerStrip?) but at least it's not working properly out-of-the-box.
Leaving off the PS/2 Mouse/Keyboard ports from the Shuttle is not welcome since we had problems using our existing Windows installation. Both mouse/keyboard were not recognized automatically so you cannot use them to pass the initial installation driver screens. This was mainly noticed with XP.
We would like also from Shuttle to include more SATA cables in the retail box and use silicon rubber to further absorb HDD vibrations. There have been some improvements compared with the SD32G2, since now, there is some kind of anti-shock (rubber around screws) for the cooling fan.In overclocking, we didn't expect miracles, and we only got a top of 320MHz FSB, with Auto settings. The latest BIOS is an improvement since now you can lower CPU multiplier and further unleash memory performance with manual tight timings. When overclocking, this box will recover (POST) after an unsuccessful overclocking setting.
Moving on to the price, the Shuttle SG33G5M is a box designed for media center use. VISTA users will enjoy its front panel VFD display and the remote control which works as expected. Paired with a Blu-ray capable optical drive, you can enjoy High-Definition content playback. The retail price for all this, is around €328 (+VAT). We believe this is a very decent proposal with good features and performance. There are some minor "issues" which can be corrected with future driver packs.
As a a last note, there is another version, that includes BT, WiFi, the SG33G5M Deluxe, but is only available in specific regions (USA/Asia, but not Europe). Below is our rating of the Shuttle SG33G5M. You can judge for yourself, depending on your needs, and decide what's best for you. We liked the Shuttle SG33G5M for its stability, performance and of course, price...