Well, the selection of I/O connectors is quite satisfactory for a modern computer system, only the parallel port is missing. You may say it’s no great loss, but you won’t be able to attach your old printer to the ST61G4 or install HASP keys that are necessary for some programs (mostly professional) to work with.
Regrettably, the manufacturer didn’t implement a DVI output, although ATI RADEON 9100 IGP chipset allows it: no additional chips would be necessary. LCD monitors are popular nowadays, especially in offices, but for some mysterious reason, there is no mini-system in the market to support the digital video output.
The aluminum lid of the case is not painted: that’s Shuttle’s tradition. The dimensions of ST61G4 are standard for a “cubic” system, you can place it on your desk without any concerns about the room interior design: it is far prettier than the sarcophagus of an ordinary PC.
Shuttle ST61G4 owes much of its individuality to the mainboard it is based on. Shuttle manufactures this mainboard specifically for this particular barebone, it is marked as “FT61”. The mainboard deserves our special attention for several reasons. First, it is based on the RADEON 9100 IGP chipset from ATI Technologies, which is quite a remarkable thing as you don’t see many products on this chipset in the market. Second, FT61 is definitely richer than every other mainboard we have reviewed so far in terms of quantity of integrated controllers per square unit. In spite of its small size (254x185mm – smaller than the MicroATX form-factor!), it can rival expensive full-size products. Besides the usual set of controllers we usually see in a SFF PC, the FT61 boasts a SerialATA-150 RAID controller! I haven’t yet seen this function implemented in a barebone.
So, FT61 mainboard uses as a basis for the Shuttle ST61G4 barebone system is built on the integrated ATI RADEON 9100 IGP chipset. Therefore, it supports modern Socket 478 processors with 400/533/800MHz FSB frequency, with or without Hyper-Threading technology support. The manufacturer took care of the CPU voltage regulator and has every right to claim the compatibility of the FT61 with all upcoming processors on the 90nm Prescott core. This compatibility may be a really useful feature as Intel is planning to roll out not only top-end Prescott models boasting high heat dissipation and power consumption, but also slower models like 2.8GHz, 533MHz FSB and no Hyper-Threading. Such a next-generation processor may serve you well in your SFF mini-system.
Like every RADEON 9100 IGP-based mainboard, FT61 supports dual-channel DDR266/333/400 SDRAM. You can install the modules into two 184-pin DIMM slots (1 slot = 1 memory channel). The number of slots is limited because of the design peculiarities, so you should keep it in mind that you don’t have much elbowroom as far as expanding the memory system is concerned.