System: Shuttle ST62K Zen XPC :: Conclusion

03-01-2004 · Category: Hardware - Systems

By Benjamin Sun

There may be some that would question the lack of an AGP slot in this XPC. I am not one of them. The RADEON 9100 IGP chipset is the fastest, most feature-rich integrated graphics chipset available, bar none. In many cases, the integrated graphics is fully capable of playing virtually every game that I'm currently playing, just not necessarily at the highest resolutions or settings. For the casual gamer, this can't be beat.

For the intended audience, the ST62K works well. The integrated components of the XPC give virtually everything that someone would need for expansion with 4 USB 2.0 ports and 2 IEEE-1394 ports onboard. The integrated sound is sufficient for most users, though I prefer ADI's SoundMax solution for clarity when combined with Sonic Focus's audio refinement technology.

Aesthetically, every XPC I've ever used has been pleasing to the eye and in terms of space, can't be beat. Instead of a Med-Tower ATX case that would often get in the way or fit awkwardly on my desk, the XPC fits easily on my desk. The color scheme works beautifully for me with the rest of my desk. Personally, I use a XPC when doing any traveling, as it's a simple matter to hook it up to the TV-Out of a TV and use the computer. In operation, the XPC is also extremely quiet. I hardly notice the sounds coming out of the XPC.

So what do I dislike about the ST62K Zen XPC? I really wish that Shuttle had included SATA ports. This is a standard feature for motherboards today. The other thing I would have loved to have seen was an additional PCI slot in place of the missing AGP port. The other thing I wish Shuttle would have done was include 2 more USB 2.0 ports or their front panel memory card reader in the package.

I like the 9100 IGP chipset a lot. It's the only integrated graphics chipset available that can show the effects of pixel shaders in games like Morrowind and Tiger Woods 2004. I hope we'll see even more exciting chipsets from ATI this year, as we'll see games like Unreal Tournament 2004 and Doom 3 this year that'll require DirectX 9 class integrated graphics. In 2006, we'll see Longhorn hopefully.