Supplies are limited, but thanks to its gaming performance and compact design, we expect Shuttle's dual-3D-card XPC P 2600g to fly off the shelves. You'll need some cash, of course, as it starts at $2,499. But if portable, powerful PC gaming is your goal, you'll be hard-pressed to find a better system.
The $4,165 Shuttle XPC P 2600g joins the pantheon of high-priced, high-powered, small-form-factor game systems currently occupied by the likes of Alienware's Area-51 5300 series and Falcon's FragBox 2. So what sets this toaster-size PC apart from the competition? In an acronym: SLI. Shuttle has managed to squeeze a pair of Nvidia GeForce 7800 GT cards into a totable case, resulting in the kind of blazing graphics performance normally reserved for big, beefy towers. Though it's a bit noisy, the XPC P 2600g delivers the necessary muscle for today's latest games in a stylish, portable package.
Indeed, from the AMD Athlon 64 FX-57 processor to the high-end audio system, the XPC P 2600g is a serious gaming powerhouse, despite its diminutive size. Although it lacks the FragBox 2's convenient carrying handle, the 2600g is smaller, measuring 8.3 inches high by 12.6 inches wide by 8.7 inches deep. The glossy drive-bay panels on the front give the black, small-form-factor box a slightly upscale look, and its compactness makes it very easy to tote back and forth to LAN parties.
The small size also makes for a pretty crowded interior. The Shuttle XPC P 2600g has no standard PCI slots and only two RAM sockets (occupied in our test system by two 1GB sticks). On the plus side, the case has room (and cabling) for a third hard drive, just in case the two supplied 400GB drives don't meet your storage needs. The XPC P 2600g also offers plenty of ports for external expansion, including six for USB 2.0 (two in front), two for FireWire (one in front), and even ones for serial and PS/2. It also provides a convenient 8-in-1 media reader and front-accessible headphone and microphone jacks.
The only real problem with the design is noise. The fans on the two video cards combine to make quite a racket. Admittedly, they're necessary to keep those hot cards cool, especially in such cramped quarters, and after a few long minutes, they do idle down to a quieter level. In the meantime, you'll have to turn up the volume to compensate.
Our test system included a number of upgrades that added more than $1,500 to the system's $2,499 base price, but neither monitor nor speakers were among them. If you don't already have these items, one-stop shopping is available: the company sells a selection of Shuttle and Samsung LCDs and Logitech speaker systems on its Web site.
Other than that, the Shuttle XPC P 2600g is supremely equipped for gaming and high-powered computing. Shuttle has stocked it with a 2.8GHz AMD Athlon 64 FX-57 processor, 2GB of PC3200 SDRAM, two hard drives in a RAID 0 configuration, and a double-layer DVD burner. The Via Envy24PT onboard audio system delivers 7.1-channel sound and provides both analog and digital (S/PDIF) ports. We hooked it up to some surround-sound speakers and enjoyed seriously booming audio.
We particularly appreciate the Shuttle's built-in 802.11b/g wireless adapter, the antenna for which screws onto the back of the case. Shuttle also supplied a Logitech UltraX mouse and keyboard; both are solid components, and hard-core gamers will appreciate that they're wired rather than wireless. As a bonus, the system comes with a Logitech gaming headset for online multiplayer chatting.
But no games are included! PowerDVD 5 and the OEM version of Ahead's Nero 6.6 suite of disc-burning software represent the extent of the bundled software. Shuttle likely figures most hard-core gamers already own the games they plan to play--a reasonable assumption, but it's hard not to look at the 2600g's price tag and say, "Not even one free game?"
As for performance, there's no question the 2600g is a rocket, especially when it comes to games. Although it didn't prove to be a performance leader--its application scores were average at best--it certainly put the spurs to games, productivity software, and everything else. We ran Quake 4 in Ultra mode with every special effect turned on and enjoyed completely smooth gameplay, even at 1,600x1,200.
The Shuttle XPC P 2600g's standard warranty covers parts and labor for one year. You can purchase one- and two-year extensions for $100 and $150, respectively. Given the already sky-high price of the system and our perhaps unreasonable fears about having all those hot-running, high-performance parts in such a small chassis, we were hoping Shuttle would include at least two years of coverage. Phone tech support is toll-free but limited to weekday hours (9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. PT). You could go online for help, but the minimal FAQs and setup screens aren't system specific, offering little real benefit.
|BAPCo's SysMark 2004 rating||SysMark 2004 Internet-content-creation rating||SysMark 2004 office-productivity rating|
|Doom 3 1,600x1,200 4XAA 8XAF||Doom 3 1,024x768 4XAA 8XAF|
|Half Life 2 1,600x1,200 4XAA 8XAF (new demo from 10/05)||Half Life 2 1,024x768 4XAA 8XAF (new demo from 10/05)|
Find out more about how we test desktops systems.
Dell XPS 600
Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 SP2; 3.8GHz Intel Pentium 4 670; Nvidia Nforce-4 SLI Intel Edition chipset; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; (2) 256MB Nvidia GeForce 7800 GTX (PCIe SLI); (2) Hitachi HDS725050KLA360 500GB 7,200rpm SATA; integrated Nvidia Nforce-4 Intel Edition SATA RAID controller (RAID 0)
Falcon Northwest FragBox 2 (Athlon 64 FX-57)
Windows XP Professional SP2; 2.8GHz AMD Athlon 64 FX-57; ATI Radeon RS480 chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 7800 GTX (PCIe); (2) Seagate ST3160827AS 160GB 7,200rpm SATA; integrated Silicon SiI 3114 SoftRAID 5 controller (RAID 0)
Polywell Poly 939N4X2
Windows XP Professional SP2; 2.2GHz AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200+; Nvidia Nforce-4 chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 7800 GTX (PCIe); (2) WDC WD740GD-00FLA2 74GB 10,000rpm SATA; integrated Nvidia Nforce RAID controller (RAID 0)
Puget Custom Computers Liquid-Cooled PC
Windows XP Professional SP2; 2.8GHz AMD Athlon 64 FX-57; Nvidia Nforce-4 SLI chipset; 2,048MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; (2) 256MB Nvidia GeForce 7800 GTX (PCIe SLI); (2) WDC WD740GD-00FLA2 74GB 10,000rpm SATA; integrated Silicon SiL3114 SoftRAID5 (RAID 0)
Shuttle XPC P 2600g
Windows XP Professional SP2; 2.8GHz AMD Athlon 64 FX-57; Nvidia Nforce-4 SLI chipset; 2,048MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; (2) 256MB Nvidia GeForce 7800 GT (PCIe SLI); (2) Seagate ST3400832AS 400GB 7,200rpm SATA