Shuttle's new bare-bones system, the XPC SN25P, lets do-it-yourselfers build a small PC with all the power and technology typically found in a full-size tower. Unfortunately, the end result is too noisy.
The $US420 XPC SN25P includes Shuttle's FN25 motherboard, the company's first to feature the excellent NVidia NForce4 media and communications processor (MCP) chip set - which supports PCI Express graphics cards - and AMD's 939-pin Athlon 64 processor. The system also comes with Via's solid Envy24PT on-board eight-channel audio chip, four Serial ATA connectors, a gigabit ethernet port, and a 350-watt power supply.
The SN25P is larger than the Shuttle XPC SN41G2, providing more room to work inside. I had little trouble installing the processor, memory, and graphics card in my preproduction unit. The tool-less drive-mounting brackets made installing the hard drive and optical drive equally easy.
I did have a problem with the system's integrated bay doors: I couldn't adjust the case's optical-drive eject button to reach the slightly inset eject button on the TDK Indi DVD drive I wanted to install. This forced me to switch to a different optical drive that had a protruding eject button - hardly an optimal solution.
The system contains six fans of its own: two as part of Shuttle's proprietary Integrated Cooling Engine (ICE), two in the rear to cool the chassis' hard drive zone, a power-supply fan, and a chip-set fan.
Though I was able to lower the system fan speed via a setup menu, the SN25P still sounded like a Harrier jet poised to land on my desk. The two rear fans were particularly annoying, emitting a high whine.
If you're looking to build a powerful, portable desktop computer for LAN parties, the XPC SN25P is a fine choice. But if you just want a small, unobtrusive system, this little one is not for you.
Small, well-designed system offers the latest technology but is just too noisy.
It is distributed by Altech Computers and Multimedia Technology.