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Shuttle XPC SN26P (nForce4 SLI)
By Vincent Chang
Category : Barebone/SFF
Published by Vijay Anand on Monday, 5th September, 2005
Rating : 4.5 out of 5 stars   (Most Innovative Product Award)

SN26 Exterior

The XPC SN26P looks outwardly similar to the other models using the P series chassis. The front panel is still made of the same reflective plastic, though Shuttle has chosen a dark violet shade that, given the right light conditions, exudes a sinister vibe. The physical dimensions of the SN26P are actually slightly larger than the usual P chassis to accommodate the SLI modifications but we couldn't really tell from looking. The weight of the chassis is also heavier than before; at 5.8kg before installation (but with the pre-installed graphics cards), this is one elephant of a SFF that won't be tap-dancing anytime soon.

The black aluminum exterior is also slightly different. While it retains its matt finish, the SN26P has a velvety feel to it that is pleasing to the touch. The price for that is like the plastic front panel, it is easily stained and the aluminum shell was soon spotted with our fingerprints. Another obvious difference is the sheer number of square vents on the cover. Besides the emblazoned Shuttle logo, the rest of the chassis cover is dotted with the vent holes, a design choice fostered on the SN26P due to its need for greater ventilation.

With the heat generated by two GeForce 6800 GT cards, Shuttle has had to add more ventilation holes at the side. You can actually see part of the green PCB of the graphics card.

The front panel is essentially unchanged from the usual P series chassis. The two drive bays (one 3.5-inch and one 5.25-inch) are concealed behind plastic doors that pop open with the touch of the buttons. An integrated 8-in-1 card reader occupies the top panel, convenient and useful for those times when you need to transfer media files quickly from other devices. For more intensive transfers, the lower panel has a USB 2.0 and a FireWire ports, along with various jacks for microphones or headphones.

Like the other models in the P series, the lower front panel pops open to reveal the front I/O connectors with your usual USB and FireWire ports.

There is nothing unusual about the rear of the SN26P, that is until you notice the four DVI-I connectors.

Switching to the rear of the casing, one is immediately attracted to the large exhaust grill at the top. This is where the heat from the graphics card is expelled, as the twin smart fans work overtime to cool the heat pipes from the graphics core. A slightly smaller exhaust is that for the 350W SilentX power supply, arguably the bare minimum for an SLI system. The usual I/O connectivity options like more USB and FireWire ports, serial and audio connectors are in their rightful places. The CMOS reset button is also located here to allow users to conveniently restore their BIOS settings to default. Also, the two Leadtek GeForce 6800 GT cards that came pre-installed on the Shuttle XPC SN26P were equipped with dual DVI-I connectors for a total of four altogether. Take note that only one of these is active in SLI mode, but when deactivated through the drivers, all four DVI-I ports become usable for multi-monitor setups.

Located at the back of the SFF, this extra large exhaust grille is unique to the SN26P. Here, two smart fans work tirelessly to cool the heatpipes from the graphics cards and vent the resultant exhaust out.

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