A Quick Shuttle SN21G5 Computer Review

While the specs are fairly decent for this tiny computer system, once I got it and started working with it I must say that I am very unimpressed.

With a known-to-be-good brand new processor (AMD 64 X2 4800+) and memory (OCZ PC4000), I am getting boot problems. Most of the time it won't boot up:
1. The fan turns on.
2. No video output.
3. The harddrive light stays on (but there are no drives installed).
4. There are no sounds (like memory initialization or other pc speaker beeps).

I have reseated the processor and memory, removed the CMOS battery, and cleared the CMOS numerous times. I finally got it to boot up a couple times (not reliably and only after disconnecting internal power cables and clearing the cmos) and so I flashed the bios. Shuttle tech support said this kind of problem was due to a bios problem with the X2 processors. After flashing to the newest bios the computer will not boot again. I could get it to boot sometimes with the older bios but now with the new bios (using the Shuttle flash tools) it is completely dead. I told their support I was rather ticked off because their site says the X2 is compatible. The appologized and tried to get me to send my bios chip back to them. I made them cross-ship a new bios chip.

After getting the new chip the exact same problems occur: Turn on the computer and get no video signal, no signs of life, just the processor fan turns on. I get it to boot up again by doing the same annoying process: Disconnect power, disconnect internal power cables, remove cmos battery, clear cmos, put everything back together, and boot up. It doesn't work the very first time every time, but this process seems to make it boot up with the older bios. I tried flashing the bios again with the bios from Shuttle's website and the system dies completely again.

Today I should have a brand new Shuttle SN21G5 Barebones Case waiting for me when I get home. I sure hope this evening goes a lot better than the last 3 weeks with this computer. I expect motherboards to work right out of the box. I guess MSI has me spoiled. I have had 1 bad motherboard from them and it was obviously bad (no power to any components). None of this piddly kinda on kinda off crap. All the other MSI boards I have used in the past have been a piece of cake to get going, get updated drivers for, and reliable!

I have no faith in Shuttle, and less faith in their Tech Support. I am not impressed with the lack of quality in the system, bios support part of their site, and quality of support over the phone. It kind of ticked me off that I had to talk to a technician and then to an RMA person. I would expect the techs to handle initiating an RMA.

I got home and the box was waiting for me. I went for broke and installed everything at once in the new SN21G5 case and booted it up. It worked! Well, maybe Shuttle isn't complete crap, but I'm still a skeptic. I was pretty happy to have this all come together like it should have 3 weeks ago. A 2-3 hour project becomes a 2-3 week project: If I ever find out the true identity of the author of Murphy's Law, I'll make him hurt!

The system is pretty stinking fast though:

AMD 64 X2 4800
2GB OCZ PC4000 Gamer Memory
Western Digital WD4000YR
TBD ViewSonic 19" VX922 LCD Monitor
TBD Video Card: To be decided later. For now the built in 6100 GeForce is good enough. I don't have time to game on this computer yet.