Desktop Systems Guide

Shuttle XPC ST20G5 review

Shuttle XPC ST20G5 (Socket-939)

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ST20G5 Interior

ST20G5 Interior

Compared to the larger volume of Shuttle's P series of chassis, the interior of the ST20G5 may seem rather cramped. This can both be a drawback or an advantage, depending on what you use the SFF for. The slightly smaller footprint of the ST20G5 could see it ensconced in an unobtrusive corner of the living room while those who regularly bring their systems for LAN parties will appreciate the lesser burden. Obviously, one immediate drawback of the smaller chassis is that the ST20G5 can only fit one 5.25-inch optical drive and up to a maximum of two 3.5-inch drives. Also, unlike the P series, there is no built-in card reader so that could be another minus. Finally, while installing a floppy drive may seem like a waste of space, especially considering the constraints of the G5 chassis, those who intend to use a SATA hard drive may just have to do that since the included SATA drivers comes in a diskette.

Besides the integrated graphics from the Radeon Xpress 200 chipset (RS480), the FT20, which is the actual name of the motherboard used in the Shuttle ST20G5, has a Southbridge provided by ULi. ULi also provides the SATA RAID support found in the ST20G5. Meanwhile, the other onboard features available in typical motherboards are present here. Gigabit Ethernet is available thanks to a Broadcom 5751 Ethernet Controller chip. The FireWire support is enabled by the VIA VT6307, while the audio subsystem is excellent for an SFF with the capable HD Audio Realtek ALC880 CODEC (supports a 7.1 speaker setup).

Installing the processor and the cooler was quite simple. Similarly for memory and a separate graphics card. Fixing the other drives (optical, floppy, hard disk) to the detachable drive cage was also relatively straightforward once we found out which screw holes to use. The main difficulty was attaching the power and SATA connectors to the devices after that. There was limited space at the back of the chassis that made connecting the cables an exercise in finger dexterity. Shuttle had some form of cable management for the G5 chassis but it was sadly not as refined as that found in the P series. Suffice to say that impatient users may get their fair share of stubbed fingers.