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Huge Gaming...In a Teeny, Tiny Package

The biggest selling points for these pint-sized PCs have been style and portability, not power. However, new case designs have started to allow these breadbox-sized rigs to catch up to the performance levels of the big boys. And with Shuttle’s new P2500g small form- factor (SFF) complete system based on its bare-bones SN25P package of case, power supply, and motherboard, it’s time to start thinking small. This triple threat of gaming power packs a top-shelf AMD CPU, NForce4 technology, and ATI graphics power into a slick, easy-to-move XPC chassis—proving that with Shuttle’s design talent, a PC doesn’t necessarily have to be big to be good.

We all know AMD’s Athlon 64 4000+ CPU with HyperTransport combined with an NForce4 MCP motherboard makes for a gaming behemoth. But by introducing Sapphire’s Radeon X850 XT Professional Edition PCI Express VPU into the mix, the P2500g sliced through the 3D GameGauge Far Cry benchmarks, with the Volcano map pushing 88 frames per second. The full gig of Kingston HyperX DDR PC3200 RAM clocked at 400MHz (expandable to 2 gigs, dual channel) does a lot of heavy lifting as well, helping to push UT2004 to, well, unreal speeds. This rig also saw great performance in KOTOR II, SWAT 4, and Rome: Total War. The P2500g also handled Doom 3 like a big high-end desktop, running the game at a very respectable 72fps.

The P2500g comes in a XPC toolless chassis design made thermal proof with a Silent X cooling and noise reduction ICE heat-pipe module, Silent X 350W power supply, and active airflow. With so much hardware packed into such a small space, you need all that cooling. Further, it’s an extremely quiet setup at 45dB, which makes it a great choice for gamers looking for a peaceful gaming experience. The case also provides ports galore for USB 2.0, FireWire 400, etc., along with four bays housing two Western Digital SATA 250GB HDDs. Shuttle thoughtfully included the Lite-On DL DVD+/-RW combo drive, which performs great whether you’re playing your favorite games or reference DVDs like The Incredibles, or burning a Blue Man Group music VCD or data discs full of Joint Ops maps with impunity. Isn’t that nice of them?

And talk about music—the motherboard’s built-in 7.1-channel H/W audio using the VIA Envy24PT was more than capable of nicely powering U2’s classic War CD, while showing its sound prowess in games like Half-Life 2 and the Doom 3 expansion. A dedicated audio card might provide somewhat better sound, but this onboard audio solution does such a solid job it’s hard to complain too strenuously.

The only thing Shuttle didn’t have room for in here was a PCI slot, six-pin connector for video. That’s OK, since a Molex to PCI Express adapter does the trick. A very real problem we had was the case’s unresponsive optical-drive tray buttons. Nothing an iron mallet couldn’t fix.
Minor quibbles aside, if size matters and you still thirst for power, this small PC won’t let you down.

Score: 4 stars
Shuttle Xp17 Lcd Monitor
As the grandmaster of SFF building, Shuttle has perfected this art to the point that it now offers a wonderful mix of SFF PC designs, system enhancements, and cool accessories like its ergonomically sleek, high-performance 17-inch TFT LCD monitor. Not only does this monitor display DVDs, games, and photos in vibrant colors, as well as challenging shadowy hues wonderfully at its native 1280x1024 flicker-fast 8ms response rate at 75Hz, but it’s also a high-functioning looker possibly ripped from the pages of Apple’s design books. High praise for ergonomics aside, the nifty TempAG antiglare tempered safety panel minimizes scratches, dings, and bumps while also reducing eyestrain. The monitor’s wide view angle enhances crystal clear images that seem to jump off the screen. High-impact tubing surrounds the XP17, and strategically positioned adhesion feet provide slip-free surface control. For the LAN gamer on the go, a 90-degree swivel stand neatly folds into an ultrathin case for easy transporting. For a mere $450, Shuttle’s rugged XP17 LCD offers the perfect balance of performance and form-factor that most monitors costing $100 to $300 more just can’t touch.

Manufacturer: Shuttle Product: XPC P2500g SN25P PC Price: $2,800
Copyright © 2005 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally appearing in Computer Gaming World.
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