Navigation
RSS Feed


HCW Tech Blog

For the latest info on computer hardware, tech, news, video games, software tips, and Linux, check out our new improved front page: HCW Tech Blog

Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [04.07.05]
Manufactured by: Shuttle

Discuss this article in the forum!

 

TeraCube

When did you think it would be easy to have a SFF system capable of containing 1TB of storage? Well with the XPC SN25P we're looking at today, it is not just 'possible' but feasible and easy to do. We'll get to that a bit later on though ;)

As has been the trend with Shuttle's high end XPC systems, the cube has gotten a bit bigger. Based on the newest "P series" chassis, the SN25P measures in at 320x210x210mm (L x W x H). That is quite a bit taller than the previous high-end chassis, but only a little wider and longer. The SN95G5 measured in at at 310x200x185mm. As you'll see, Shuttle designed the P chassis to be just as big as necessary to accomodate large video cards, heatsinks, and hard drives, but maintained ease of installation.

Based on the NFORCE4 chipset, the SN25P supports the very latest processors from AMD. Note however that this is NOT the "Ultra" version. You will be giving up SATA-II capability, as well as the hardware accelerated firewall. We don't have a big problem with this, as SATA-II drives are scarce at best, and based on our previous NF4 Ultra reviews, the hardware acceleration in NVIDIA's firewall software seems to be broken anyway.

The Specs

Normally we skip over spec lists, but they are quite important in SFF systems. It's important to see which, if any compromises have been made to accommodate the small form factor.

CPU Support Socket 939 (Athlon64, Athlon FX)
Memory Dual Channel DDR400 (2 slots, 2GB max)
PCI Expansion Slots None
PCI-E Expansion Slots One x16, one x1
Integrated Audio VIA Envy24PT w/ VIA VT1617A Codec, Wolfson WM8728 DAC - 8 Channel
Ethernet NF4 PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet
Storage ATA133 x 1
SATA150 x 3
FDD x 1
Drive Bays 1x External 5.25"
1x External 3.5"
2x Internal 3.5"
Front Panel I/O 2x USB2.0
1x FireWire
1x Microphone
1x Headphone
8 in 1 Memory Card Reader
Rear Panel I/O 2x PS/2 Port
4x USB2.0
1x FireWire
1x Gigabit Ethernet (RJ45)
8 Channel Audio Ouput
1x SPDIF Digital Audio Output
1x SPDIF Digital Audio Input
1x Coaxial Digital Audio Output
1x Serial Port
CMOS Reset Button
Power Supply Custom Size 350W

Thinking back to previous SFF systems, this is nothing short of impressive. For the first time I have seen, you have the ability to install three hard drives in an SFF, provided they are all SATA. I also like the inclusion of an integrated memory card reader. This is what leaves the external 3.5" bay open, allowing you to install three drives.

Although you could argue that the use of an x1 PCI-E slot is forward-thinking, I can't think of any devices that would make use of it. The obvious choices for an x1 slot are a high end sound card, ethernet, or drive controller. Well you have room for 3 drives and no more. And the sound card used on the SN25P is already excellent. Also, there is no reason to give up the NF4 Gigabit Ethernet adapter.

There are a few uses I can immediately think of that would require a PCI slot though; a TV tuner would make this a nice little media box. WiFi is the obvious choice, although external USB adapters are cheap and easy to find.

I love that they used both Coax and SPDIF for digital audio output, although input is SPDIF only. Another nice feature is the external CMOS reset button. Brilliant!

Next Page: (The Doors)