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9/10

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Shuttle SD39P2 Barebone - Shuttle SD39P2 Barebone

Finally, I went with a GeForce 8800 GTX card to get the best gaming performance possible and to see if the 400watt PSU could really deal with three hungry hard disks and an optical drive.



Putting it together was quite straightforward, with a couple of minor issues slowing me down. In my eagerness to try out the double slot graphics card I forgot to wire up the third hard disk, so had to remove it again and the other hard disks to get to the SATA port. Getting a dual-slot card in is a little tricky, but if you’re careful it can be done quite easily and I took one in and out several times. There was a question on whether the SD39P2 would properly support an 8800 GTX as it requires two 6-pin PCI Express power connectors and only one comes off the board. You can use a Y-Adaptor that splits the connector into two but this is not provided. I was told by Shuttle that this connector comes with 8800 GTX graphics cards, but if you don’t have this adaptor you can still use a Molex to 6-pin adaptor. I successfully benchmarked in this configuration but it’s potentially less stable as the optical drive and the second power connector on the graphics card are coming off the same power rail, which isn’t ideal.



I also had trouble lining up the optical drive – after screwing it in, the button on the front wasn’t pressing on the eject key, which meant some fiddling about, but I got there in the end. Another issue was the SATA connectors running along the side for the drives in the top bays – at first I thought they wouldn’t fit, but in fact they did, I just had to bend them a little.

The BIOS options were straightforward and I went with the default RAID cluster size. I noticed however that the memory had defaulted to 667MHz. When I manually moved it up to the supported 800MHz, the system refused to boot – upping the voltage by 0.2V, solved this straight away and all was happy from then on.



Powering on, installing Vista proved straightforward and once completed I installed all the drivers from the included CD in one hit – before using Windows update to get the latest versions. It was all delightfully speedy and smooth.


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