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Shuttle XPC SN25P barebones SFF PC

Nice looks, shame about the internals?

Review Shuttle's latest small form-factor barebones is certainly a stylish box. The light blue metallic and black front shows Shuttle's usual attention to design. The blue bits hide the drives and the front ports, which might or might not be to your liking, writes Lars-Goran Nilsson.

Shuttle XPC SN25PInternally, the SN25P is very similar to the SB81P, although the motherboard is completely different. The shared parts are the cooling system and the internal case mounts. This means that the SN25P can be fitted with two hard drives across the top, while a further drive can be seated in the front-accessible 3.5in drive bay instead of a floppy drive. There's no need to install a card reader as this is already fitted as standard. The card reader accepts all the standard memory card formats except XD cards. according to Shuttle's specs.

P-series chassis are larger than Shuttle's traditional XPC cases, which makes it easier to assemble the system. It also results in more space inside the case, which allows for improved air circulation and better cooling. The cooling setup isn't quite up to that of Biostar's iDEQ 330P, as there are no less than seven fans blowing air in different directions inside the case. As far as the CPU cooling is concerned this isn't a problem, as the air is taken in on the right-hand side of the chassis and blown out on the left-hand side.

The 350W PSU and the two rear-mounted 60mm case fans are sucking the hot air out of the rest of the system. The 60mm fans are mounted at the top of the chassis to improve the hard drive cooling. The Nvidia nForce4 Ultra chipset has a rather unusual cooling setup, as Shuttle has fitted it with a heatsink that has a side-mounted fan. Abit has done this in the past on a few mobos, but it's not a solution that seems to have gained much support. I'm not quite sure why the chipset fan is blowing air toward the front of the system when the other cooling fans are pulling the hot air out of the back - unless the chipset cooler was mounted the wrong way around on our review sample. The way it is mounted now would cause turbulence inside the case which could increase the noise.

Speaking of noise, the SN25P has a wide range of BIOS options for the fan speeds from ultra-low noise to running the fans at full speed. There's an automatic mode too which worked quite well. The SN25P isn't as quiet as the iDEQ 330P on its lowest settings, but both systems are about as noisy as each other when running flat out. Unfortunately Shuttle doesn't supply a Windows utility to change the fan settings on the fly, whereas Biostar does.

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