Mini-system manufacturers, which get more and more numerous, use different chipsets for their products. At the same time, most chipsets you see in Small Form-Factor PCs are very much like each other. Irrespective of the supported processor type, most barebone systems use chipsets with an integrated graphics core.
Considering that many SFF PCs are used as home computers, manufacturers prefer to install highest-performing integrated chipsets for the end-user not to feel the need to upgrade the system with an external graphics card. ATI’s RADEON 9100 IGP chipset for Socket478 systems we reviewed recently is exactly that kind of solution. The speed and functionality of the graphics core integrated into this chipset proved to be superior to analogous solutions from other manufacturers. Although the RADEON 9100 IGP has an obvious shortcoming – its memory controller is not as fast as we might want it to be – the ultra-fast graphics anyway makes this chipset a good foundation for a SFF PC. We stressed this fact back in our ATI RADEON 9100 IGP Integrated Chipset Review and it seems like we were right: first SFF PCs on this chipset are ready to take the market by storm.
Shuttle was the first company to roll out a RADEON 9100 IGP-based mini-system. Well, it was not at all surprising that the company was the first one to announce a Socket478 solution based on this core logic. Shuttle deserves being called not only the most successful SFF PC maker, but is also known to be offering the richest choice of products in this class. After the announcement of their SFF PC for Athlon 64 processors it became clear they wouldn’t pass by any innovation available in the market. ATI’s RADEON 9100 IGP chipset is surely a thrilling innovation, so we now welcome the Shuttle ST61G4 barebone system! Let’s check out how well the ATI chipset feels in a barebone system and evaluate the new “cubic” design from Shuttle.