With many other companies now seizing the small form factor initiative, times have been a bit tougher for Shuttle of late. But its latest release, the SG33G6 Deluxe Barebone PC, shows why its products remain held in such regard, in spite of the newer competition.
Because right from the off, you can’t help but be impressed by the professionalism of the product. There are full and helpful installation instructions provided, the chassis itself has a classy black and silver finish, and while its footprint seems a little longer than Shuttle models we’ve seen in the past, it still fits quite contentedly and compactly on a desk.
To set things rolling, we took out an Intel Core 2 Duo E6750 processor (the unit sports an LGA 775 board, supporting even the latest 45nm CPUs), and put together a system using the on-board graphics. We had a little bit of fiddling to do when we also tried a separate graphics card – there’s a block of four jumpers that need altering – but the build process was generally very straightforward.
Shuttle once again cools the processor with its heat-pipe solution, and this means you need to unscrew and remove that unit to get the CPU in, and then build the rest of the system pretty much on top of that. It’s not an ideal procedure for those with fingers of size, but it’s still a comparably easy way to construct a PC.
What surprised us about the SG33G6, though, is that even when using the on-board graphics – provided by Intel’s GMA 3100, and with an HDMI output port built into the unit – there was a low humming noise that we could have lived without. It’s not too distracting (we’re certainly not in Xbox 360 territory here) but given that one possible deployment of the product is as a media solution, it’s surprisingly nonetheless.
Elsewhere, though, the chassis is ready and willing to take powerful components. It uses the Intel G33 chipset, and this offers support for front-side bus speeds of 1,333MHz. You can happily plump for a quad core processor too. It’s all powered by a 300W SilentX PSU, which coped surprisingly well with a hard drive, optical drive, the aforementioned processor and a mid-range graphics card (we didn’t have an 8800 to hand, but we wouldn’t have fancied our chances with it).
There’s also a PCI slot, sat next to the PCI-Express version, should you wish to use it. And you’ll find a pair of memory slots, giving you a total headroom of 4GB of DDR 2.
In terms of what else you get; well, there’s no skimping on connectivity. The front of the unit has headphone and microphone jacks, along with a pair of USB ports and Firewire. There’s a fingerprint recognition facility too, should you choose to avail yourself of it.
Round the back you’ll find the aforementioned HDMI output (and there’s a DVI adapter included in the box, too), a VGA-out port, four further USB 2.0 ports, Gigabit LAN, Firewire, eSATA connectors, S/PDIF audio and a place to plug in the wireless LAN antennae (wireless support is built into the box). We should point out that we had some problems with drivers, which we were warned about, leading to us needing to apply an update before the USB ports would all work satisfactorily.
Finally, 7.1 surround sound is supported on-board, and the box proudly sports a DTS logo by way of further emphasis on the multimedia side of things.
We found that the SG33G6 Deluxe Barebone allowed us to build a strong, good performance PC in little time. There’s some overclocking flexibility to push performance a little more, and it should be pointed out that the memory and processor demands are a little picky; it’s worth checking it out first before you lay down your cash.
However, as good as the end product is, we still have some trouble with the price. £270 isn’t too cheap for a barebones set-up, especially one that can’t keep entirely quiet. It’s a professional, polished product, but there’s still a little room for improvement here. If you are a bit flush with cash, though, then it’s certainly a good buy.
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