Shuttle SN68SG2 Home Theatre System

Shuttle SN68SG2

Having used a Shuttle SN41G2 based AMD 3ghz XP machine to watch DVDs and listen to mp3s with, the time had come to upgrade to something a little more powerful that was capable of Blue Ray HD playback. I have always been a big fan of the Shuttle bare-bone systems both in the work place and at home, as their compact size makes them ideal for media and basic computing and I had not intention of buying a stand alone player.

The Shuttle SN41G2 had been an excellent machine with nforce on-board sound and graphics but also a spare AGP and PCI slot if you wanted a different graphics or sound card option. Bit perfect audio output is a must for me, so a spare PCI slot is essential as I have not come across any on-board sound cards that are 100% capable of this, and my C-Media 8768 sound card offers 100% bit perfect SPDIF in and out at a fraction of the cost of audiophile solutions with Drogbert's Homebrew Drivers. The Shuttle SN68SG2 features a Realteak 888 HD chip which although will output a 44.1khz signal via SPDIF only does through a driver switch and not automatically, so I am not 100% convinced this is "bit" perfect, however it will output 24 bit audio as well for those people with high resolution FLAC files.

Hard acceleration for VC1 and H.264 decoding was also a must, so a good quality PCI-Express card based on the right ATI or NVidia chipset was needed as the on-board solution on the SN68SG2 was a Nvidia 7025 chipset that has no Pure HD acceleration, so a Zotac Nvidia based 512mb DDR2 8400GS was ordered as it was cheap and has all the features I needed. The CPU used in the new Shuttle was an AMD64 5000 coupled with two matched pairs of 1gb Oz 800mhz DDR2 memory.

Using SATA for both the hard and optical drive make more sense in a PC of the Shuttle's size as the smaller cables should mean more air flow and cooler running. A Western Digitial 500gb SATAII hard drive and the LG GGC-H20L DVD Writer/BD rom was used as an optical drive which came bundled with PowerDVD Ultra 7. So all in all a fairly well specc'd media PC was constructed for under £400 and one that set up correctly with the correct software should be able output some very high quality high definition audio and video.

The building and set up of the Shuttle SN68SG2 was a breeze and it was not long before Windows XP was installed. XP was chosen over Vista because of its lack of bloat and because I knew my needs such as bit perfect audio output could definitely be met.

I use both a Shuttle based PC and work and at home and have never ever had any problems with them and they look smart, take up very little space and run very quietly, so if anyone is interested in building a media PC, then the shuttle website is a good place to start researching.

This entry was posted on Friday March 13th, 2009 at 1:00 PM and is filed under Home Cinema. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response.

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