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I would also like to stress that even though ST61G4 barebone system doesn’t imply the implementation of a parallel port and a floppy drive, the mainboard used in this system does have all the corresponding connectors laid out. The mainboard also features an IrDA port, although the barebone itself doesn’t allow you to actually use it.

A few words about the BIOS. The BIOS is based on microcode from Award and doesn’t differ greatly from BIOSes of ordinary mainboards. However, manufacturers seem to think that the BIOS of a mainboard for a SFF mini-system shouldn’t have any CPU overclocking or any other fine-tuning options. We haven’t yet seen any truly overclocking-friendly SFF PCs in our labs, and Shuttle ST61G4 doesn’t make an exception this time.

Yes, FT61 mainboard allows changing the frequency and timings of the memory. The BIOS Setup even allows adjusting the Vcore from 0.8250V to 1.5875V, the Vagp from 1.5V to 1.7V and the Vmem from 2.5V to 2.8V. But this is all in vain if you can’t change the FSB frequency, and you can’t change it easily in the FT61. The BIOS Setup offers you one option called “CPU Overclock By”, which can increase the FSB clock-rate by 1%-15% above the standard value, and that’s all. 15% is certainly not a good overclocking result. In other words, if you’ve got a processor that works with the 800MHz bus, you can increase the FSB frequency no more than by 30MHz.

I understand Shuttle’s reasons for doing this. Extreme overclocking of processors installed into a SFF PC is unlikely to be a success, since it is hard to provide appropriate cooling in such a small system case. At the same time, manufacturers forget that many users buy cheaper processors with a small frequency to overclock them to the level of top-end CPUs. So, we still have some hopes to see a SFF PC with fully-fledged overclocking options some day.

Power Supply Unit

The power supply unit is an important component of each barebone system as it must combine both: small size and high wattage. Since Shuttle positions its mini-systems as high-performance computers, in which you can use topmost Pentium 4 processors, the PSU of the Shuttle ST61G4 should be able to feed the hungriest processor as well as a high-performance graphics card you may want to install into the system and a HDD, which will consume some power, too.

Shuttle used a small-size PSU from a noname manufacturer for its ST61G4 (the PSU is marked as if made by Shuttle itself) with 250W power and Power Factor Correction support. 250W is a “grownup” power quite comparable to PSUs installed into desktop computers. Our practical experiments confirmed that the PSU can uphold a system with a Pentium 4 3.2GHz and an ATI RADEON 9700 PRO graphics card.

The PSU of the Shuttle ST61G4 is provided with a 20-pin (main) and 4-pin (12V) power cables for the mainboard as well as two 4-pin 12V, two 5V (Molex) and even one SerialATA power connector for HDDs. Thus you can use an external graphics card without fearing to run out of power cables.

The PSU is cooled by a single fan, which works to exhaust warm air to the outside. Although the fan changes its speed depending on the temperature, it is rather noisy anyway.

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