Shuttle XPC G5 1100H - Pentium M 760 2 GHz review: Shuttle XPC G5 1100H - Pentium M 760 2 GHz
Shuttle made a name for itself by pioneering the small-form-factor (SFF) PC case, and the XPC G5 1100h is the company's smallest system yet. Lose the graphics card, and we'd wager that it could also stake a claim as Shuttle's quietest system. We typically don't recommend integrated graphics over a midrange graphics card--it's money well spent for 3D-gaming power and overall application performance--but for the XPC G5 1100h, which will most likely sit atop your desk instead of tucked away underneath it, we'd take the performance hit. (Gamers cringing at the words performance hit should look at the XPC P 2600g instead.) You pay a premium for the unique design, but the $1,807 Shuttle XPC G5 1100h (the price includes an excellent 17-inch LCD) is an able mainstream performer that makes a smart choice for space-constrained dorm and apartment dwellers as well as anyone with an eye for design.
With its brushed-aluminum exterior, rounded corners, and blessedly simple front panel, the Shuttle XPC G5 1100 won't offend when placed in a prominent area of your home. It won't take up much space either, measuring 7.4 inches high by 7.8 inches wide by 12.3 inches deep. You will need to take into account the external 220-watt power brick in the middle of the power cord; it's the price you pay for eschewing an internal power supply.
Despite its small size, the XPC G5 1100h serves up a full range of mainstream desktop features. Hidden behind flip-down panels on the front panel are a 16X DVD burner, a multiformat media-card reader, two USB 2.0 ports, a four-pin FireWire port, and headphone and microphone jacks. The back panel supplies two more USB 2.0 ports; a six-pin FireWire port; and VGA, DVI, and S-Video connections. There's also a Gigabit Ethernet jack, an 802.11b/g wireless-LAN antenna, and 7.1 audio outputs, courtesy of a Creative Sound Blaster Live daughter card.
We love the built-in wireless capability, which cuts down on cable clutter and makes it easy to add the system to your network. The bundled Logitech UltraX Media keyboard-and-mouse set also helps keep cables to a minimum. The keyboard is sleek, the optical mouse is comfortable to use, and both have useful but not excessive shortcut keys.
Only two thumbscrews stand between you and the inside of the case. The graphics card in the x16 PCI Express slot is easily accessible, but you'll have to remove it to get to the free x1 PCI Express slot just inside it. Getting to the 200GB, 7,200rpm hard drive and the optical drive is a little trickier given the small work space. Home-theater enthusiasts looking to maximize storage space for large video files can opt for a second hard drive in place of the media-card reader.
The XPC G5 1100h isn't the first desktop we've seen that uses a mobile processor. The HP Pavilion Slimline PC uses budget Intel Celeron M chips, and Apple's new iMac uses Intel's mobile Core Duo chip. For SFF and all-in-one systems where thermals are more of a concern, mobile chips are becoming more common. Shuttle offers three Pentium M chips for the XPC G5 1100h; our review unit came with the middle one of the trio, the 2GHz Pentium M 760. (Looking at the prices of each, the 760 resides in the sweet spot. Still, we'd opt for a Core Duo chip, which Shuttle expects to offer, but not until the end of the year.) Paired with 1GB of 533MHz DDR memory, the Pentium M 760 kept pace with the desktop competition. Though it's clocked slower than comparable desktop chips, it features a large 2MB L2 cache (most mainstream single-core desktop CPUs feature 512KB or 1MB).
When pitted against the Dell XPS 200, which uses the more recent Intel 945 chipset and a dual-core Pentium D 830 desktop processor, the XPC G5 1100h lagged by only 7 percent. Its SysMark 2004 score of 175 put it in a statistical tie with systems that use mainstream Intel processors (the Sony VAIO VGC-VA11G and the Shuttle XPC G5 8300mc) as well as with the highly rated eMachines T6524, which uses a midrange AMD Athlon 64 chip. If budget is the bottom line, the eMachines T6524 is the pick here; with a 17-inch LCD, it costs roughly half what you'd pay for the XPC G5 1100h.
Our test system's 256MB GeForce 6600 LE graphics card delivered an outstanding gaming experience with Half-Life 2 on the bundled 17-inch Shuttle LCD at its native resolution of 1,280x1,024. This capability comes at a price, however. By using a mobile Pentium M processor and an external power supply, the XPC G5 1100h can get by with just one cooling fan inside the case, which spins much more quietly than the small fan on the Nvidia GeForce 6600 LE graphics card. We had the XPC G5 1100h on top of our desk and grew annoyed by its constant whir over the course of a day. Thankfully, Shuttle will soon be offering a passively cooled GeForce 6600 card; we'd wait for it be available before purchasing the XPC G5 1100h.
Shuttle backs the XPC G5 1100h with an industry-average one-year parts-and-labor depot warranty. Phone tech support is toll-free but limited to weekday hours (9 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT). You can add one or two years of additional coverage, either continuing depot service or upgrading to onsite service. Each warranty upgrade includes 24/7 phone support. We found only general support info on Shuttle's Web site, including an online support-request form; a general FAQ; and basic self-help pages for troubleshooting, setup, and system restore.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
|BAPCo's SysMark 2004 rating||SysMark 2004 Internet-content-creation rating||SysMark 2004 office-productivity rating|
Find out more about how we test desktop systems.
Dell XPS 200
Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 SP2; 3GHz Intel Pentium D 830; Intel 945G chipset; 512MB DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz; Intel 945G chipset; 224MB (shared) integrated Intel 950G; Maxtor 6L160M0 160GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA
Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005; 2.2GHz AMD Athlon 64 3500+; ATI Radeon RS482 chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; 128MB (shared) integrated ATI Radeon Xpress 200; WDC WD2000BB-22GUC0 200GB 7,200rpm EIDE
Shuttle XPC G5 1100h
Windows XP Professional SP2; 2GHz Intel Pentium M 760; Intel 915G chipset; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 6600 (PCIe); WDC WD200JS-22MHB0 200GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA
Shuttle XPC G5 8300mc
Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005; 3GHz Intel P4 530; Intel 915G chipset; 512MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 6600 (PCIe); WDC WD2500JD-98HBB0 250GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA
Sony VAIO VGC-VA11G
Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005; 3.2GHz Intel P4 640; ATI Radeon RC410M chipset; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz; 256MB ATI Radeon X700 (PCIe); two Maxtor 6L160M0 160GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA