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Closer Look: Shuttle SN85G4 Barebone

The front panel of Shuttle SN85G4 carries two USB 2.0 ports, one IEEE1394 port, a headphones jack, a microphone- and Line-Ins. Of course there you will also fins Power and Reset buttons, a power indicator (blue) and a HDD workmode indicator (orange).

There is also a black plastic panel covering the 5-inch bay if the is no optical drive installed there. So, if you are not going to use any optical drives at all your system front panel will look just ideal from the design and color point of view. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do without a CD-ROM drive. Moreover, I didn’t have a drive with a black plastic front panel, so I had to enjoy a slightly spoiled harmony of the SN85G4 system. However, you shouldn’t get frustrated at all, because you will easily find a black CD- or DVD-drive.

Now let’s take a look at the back panel:

Besides the PSU connector, of course, we can also see two High Speed USB ports, an IEEE1394a (FireWire port), an Ethernet connector, three minijack connectors for a six-channel sound system, and PS/2 connectors for the keyboard and mouse. Also there are S/PDIF In- and Out ports, a Serial and a Parallel port.

If you compare the type and location of the connectors on Shuttle SN85G4 with the connectors on any other Shuttle barebones, you will notice a few big differences. Note that all these differences can be found only on the back panel, because Shuttle seems to be rather conservative about changing the features of the  front panel: a usual there are only two USB ports, one FireWire port and three minijack ports.

So, the back panel of Shuttle SN85G4 now boasts a Parallel port, which is very good news for those of you who do not have a USB printer (in fact these printers are still quite numerous). Moreover, some software utilities intended to prevent illegal copying of the data use electronic HASP keys, which also require a Parallel port. Although I really don’t know if Shuttle marketing people really took this type of users into account when they were working on SN85G4 design and features.

As is known, nothing appears from or disappears into nowhere. The available room on the back panel of the barebone system also obeys this universal law. Therefore, we assume some ports should have been sacrificed to allow the LPT-port. Of course, these “victims” are additional USB and FireWire ports as well as the second COM port, which are no longer there. The previous cubic barebone models from Shuttle used to have two FireWire ports and two USB ports, or two FireWire ports and four USB ports, and sometimes they also had two COM ports instead of one. SN85G4 features only two USB ports, one FireWire and one COM port on the back panel. However, it boasts a printer LPT port instead.

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