titleWe have taken a look at Shuttles small form factor barebones systems before, today we have the chance to take a look at their new J series chassis that is made specifically for budget builds. With the motherboard, PSU, and Case packaged together it’s no doubt that they have a low priced solution, but who would be interested? Outside of the obvious uses, I can’t help but wonder how good of a foundation that this will make for a budget LAN rig. I am going to use this as a base to build a rig that Adam will be testing more next week for our upcoming gaming on the go week. Let's jump in

Product Name: Shuttle SG41J1 Plus

Review Sample Provided by: Shuttle

Review by: Wes

Pictures by: Wes

Specifications

FORM FACTOR

Shuttle Form Factor / Support mini-ITX also

PROCESSOR

Intel Core 2 Quad? Core 2 Duo,Dual-Core,Celeron 400 serial support
FSB 800/1066/1333*MHz support
(*Native support)

CHIPSET

Intel G41 + ICH7

MEMORY

2 x 240 pin DDR3 DIMM slots,4GB per DIMM (Max 8GB)
Dual Channel DDR3 800/1066

VGA

Built-in Intel Intel X4500
DirectX 10 Support
DVI resolution 2048 x 1526

AUDIO

IDT 92HD89C
5.1 channel High Definition Audio

ETHERNET

Marvell 88E8057
IEEE 802.3u 100Base-T specification revision 1.0
100Mb/s and 1Gb/s operation
Support Wake-On-LAN function

STORAGE INTERFACE

(3) 3.0Gb/s bandwidth SATA II
(1) Ultra DMA/100 IDE channel

ONBOARD CONNECTORS

(3) SATA connectors
(1) ATA100 bus IDE connector
(2) 1x5 pin USB 2.0 header
(2) Serial Port Header
(1) ATX main power connector
(1) ATX 12V power connector
(2) set 4pin fan connectors

FRONT PANEL

(2) USB 2.0 ports
(1) Microphone-In
(1) Earphone-Out
Power-On button
Power LED
HDD LED

BACK PANEL

(1) PCI-E x16 slot
(1) PCI slot
(1) RJ45 Gigabit LAN port
(1) D-sub VGA port
(1) DVI-D VGA port
(4) USB 2.0 ports
(1) PS/2 keyboard port
(1) PS/2 mouse port
(1) Line in port
(1) Line out port
(1) MIC in port
(1) Clear CMOS button
(2) Wireless Antenna fixture

EXPANSION BAY

(2) 3.5' bay
(1) 5.25' bay

DIMENSIONS

325(L) x 215(W) x 190(H) mm

POWER

250W
Input:100-240V AC

ACCESSORIES

XPC Multilanguage Quick User Guide
XPC CD Driver (XP and Vista 32 / 64 bit and Win7 32/ 64 bit)
1* Power cord
1* IDE cable (pre-install)
1* SATA cable (pre-install)
1* 4 pin to SATA power cable
Screws

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Packaging

Shuttle packed the SG41J1 Plus in a white box with a simple design drawn on it. All of the good information can be found on the sticker placed on the front. As you may notice in our photos, the SG41J1 Plus took a beating during shipping. Even with the original box being packed inside a second box didn’t protect it completely. Even with all of that damage, the barebones was in perfect shape when pulled out. The reason for that is the foam protection inside the box. To protect the finish they also put the case in a soft bag, perfect for storing your rig in later when going to LANs.

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BIOS

With the SG41J1 Plus being Shuttles entry level barebones I wasn’t expecting much when jumping into their BIOS. I was surprised to find out that they did leave a little room for overclocking on their frequency Voltage Configuration page. Although limited, it is more than enough to get a nice overclock to pull a little more power out of your SFF rig. While poking around I also noticed something interesting. Under USB settings USB 2.0 is turned off as default, considering its backwards compatibility I was surprised with this one. The bios has limited ability to control your bootup devices, everything you need other than any options for USB bootup devices.

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Our Test Rig

Intel Core Duo Quad Q9650

Intel’s Stock heatsink

Dual Channel Crucial Ballistix Tracer Ram

Seagate Momentus XT 320GB hard drive

Diamond Multimedia HD5770

Plextor BluRay drive

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Installation

Shuttle describes the interior of the SG41J1 Plus as spacious, make no doubt about it, this case no matter how spacious is still a very small case. Because of that you should plan on a few extra minutes working out the final details on your SG41J1 Plus build. Installing our CPU and heatsink was simple with the hard drive/disc drive tray removed. Installing the hard drive was easy, to fit the 2.5in Momentus XT I had to use Cooler Masters 2.5 to 3.5 inch adapter that came along with the Storm Scout. Installing the Plextor BluRay drive went smooth until adjusting its position to get the front drive button working properly. I couldn’t use any of the 4 adjustment spots, the fully adjustable slider was the only way. Packing the 5770 into the SG41J1 Plus was simple, although the 250 watt power supply lacked the 6 pin connector I needed, I used a Molex to 6 pin adapter to fix up that problem. The most impressive thing about the SG41J1 Plus installation was the support for dual slot video cards, this makes the SG41J1 Plus the cheapest Shuttle capable of playing games without shoehorning a card in.

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Performance

With the SG41J1 Plus up and running I was concerned that the entry level barebones would have noise or cooling issues. The lack of Shuttles I.C.E. cooling solution that we saw on our review of the SP45H7 means you have the option to use your own heatsink. I decided to forgo the hunt for an aftermarket heatsink that would fit in the small Shuttle; instead I went with Intel’s stock heatsink. The stock heatsink combined with Shuttles single exit fan keep the Q9650 from overheating. With the ability to upgrade the heatsink you won’t have any heat issues in the future.

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The front panel of the SG41J1 Plus has that distinctive checkerboard pattern across the front. At the bottom there are two USB 2.0 ports along with both a microphone and headphone port. Although it’s still not popular, it would be great to see an eSATA port to go with the USB ports. Around back the I/O panel is bare minimum compared to the feature rich SP45H7, of course that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have everything you need. You will find both keyboard and mouse PS2 ports, DVI, VGA, Gigabit Ethernet, four USB 2.0 ports, line in, line out, microphone, and a CMOS reset button. Yes, I said a CMOS reset button, obviously bare minimum isn’t too bad.

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The performance of the SG41J1 Plus when combined with the Q9650 quad core and the HD5770 was stellar. I was able to throw anything at this rig without worrying about performance. And save for the Q9650 everything in this build was budget. If I were to recommend the SG41J1 Plus to anyone else, I would suggest using a cheaper quad core if you could find one (we just happened to have the q9650 sitting around). With that said, here are the numbers from PC Mark Vantage and 3DMark Vantage.

results

Not top shelf performance, but considering the small size and low price of the SG41J1 Plus combined with a few choice parts you can end up with a perfect SFF gaming rig.

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Overall

To sum everything up, the SG41J1 Plus is an entry level Shuttle with the capability of running with the big dogs. Not only was the performance amazing when paired with a few mid-range parts, but it is small and portable. That means this rig would be perfect for LAN parties. When you’re thinking about upgrading to an i5 or i7, you could drop your 775 socket CPU into the SG41J1 Plus for less than $180 and have a Media PC or LAN rig. At that price you would be crazy not to consider it!

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