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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [12.31.04]
Manufactured by: Shuttle

Lowest Price Finder $344.12 $329.00
ZipZoomFly: $319.00

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Acoustic Performance

Since our testing was performed on the SN95G5 during the middle of a move, I didn't have the sound testing setup I would have liked. As I noted earlier on in the article, I was somewhat wary of potential acoustic issues. After all, a 92mm fan moving 50 CFM is going to generate a lot of noise.

I am happy to report that the SN95G5 is... not bad. It's not exactly the quietest system on the block, and I personally wouldn't use it in my personal home theatre system. However there are many other applications for a SFF system like the SN95G5, and in many of those the noise is perfectly acceptable.

At full load, the single fan does get going, although because of the BTX style 4 pin adapter, it doesn't spin any harder than it has to. At idle, the SN95G5 is certainly audible in a 'normal' home environment. Again, if you have it sitting on your desk, it's not going to be cause for concern. But in a pure home theatre environment, you definitely don't want to hear anything blowing or sucking or whatever while watching a movie. Take it from someone who has a fanless power supply and a 120mm cooler that weighs 2 lbs on their HTPC ;)

After going through several generations, the G series chassis from Shuttle is about as good as it's gonna get. Unfortunately on the SN95G5, it's not exactly perfect.

Aside from minor quirks like a front bay door that doesn't open, there are some other issues that prevent it from receiving an award. For instance, the lack of NVIDIA's onboard LAN solution is inexcusable, especially since it is one of the main features of the NF3 Ultra chipset.

I also didn't appreciate the lack of USB ports on the back; coupled with only one PCI slot, expansion could be a potential nightmare, depending on what you want to do with the SN95G5. The example I used earlier on was if you wanted to add WiFi and a TV Tuner to the sytem. If that's the case, you have one rear USB slot left, which will most likely be used for either a keyboard or mouse. Four USB ports is a minimum for any motherboard, in my opinion. In the case of the SN95G5, the chipset supports more USB ports, and there is certainly room on the rear panel. Like the Ethernet blunder, this is just one of those nagging things that makes the SN95G5 look a little rough on the edges.

Luckily, performance and looks make this an otherwise attractive SFF solution. Installation was great, and essentially half finished for you. The only thing I didn't like was the close proximity of the SATA adapters to the CPU. However since you'll only be using the included CPU cooler, there will always be room (barely).

As you can see above, the SN95G5 is somewhat expensive. Although the lowest price we found was $319 at ZipZoomFly, other solutions are surely to be cheaper. For instance, you could probably grab a mATX NF3 motherboard for around $100, and put it in an Antec Aria, for just $90. Of course, this won't be as small as the XPC, and installation will be much more involved, but that's $120 in savings right there!

Since the SFF market is so small at this time, these issues can be overlooked. Shuttle better get in gear for future products however, because manufacturers like Soltek and others are taking notice, and refining their products as well...

...And you just wait and see what arrived at our door from Korea the other day ;)

  • Fully stealthed front panel - FINALLY
  • System performance is great
  • Lots of digital audio options
  • Small for such a packed system!
  • Looks great
  • Installation is a breeze; great fit & finish inside

  • Lack of NVIDIA's GigaE controller, no NV Firewall
  • Not enough USB ports
  • Fit and Finish is lacking on the outside
  • Quite expensive

Final Score: 84%