Thoughts on the Shuttle SA76G2 barebone mini-PC

I’m helping my friend at work build a new computer, which will replace an aging system at home. It’s based on the Shuttle SA76G2 barebone mini-PC.

Components:

In case you’re about to build a new system based on this, you need to know something.

For the Shuttle SA76G2, the CPU power consumption (TDP) has a maximum of 105W. We actually ordered the AMD Phenom II X4 945 Deneb 3.0GHz AM3 125W Quad-Core Processor.

Why? The Shuttle SA76G2 specifications at Newegg doesn’t list this. I didn’t find out until I and saw the sticker on the CPU socket. Now we have to return the 125W processor and order the 95W processor.

It gets worse. At Mwave, you can configure the system with a AMD Phenom II X4 920 2.8GHz processor — but that runs at 125W!

Newegg, Mwave, and other resellers that sells barebone systems and motherboards that have a CPU power consumption (TDP) maximum: please add that specification to the item page!

Alright, so I don’t have too many thoughts about this system yet. Aren’t you glad I shared this information before you got an incompatible processor?

Give me until Tuesday Wednesday for more thoughts on this. Hopefully the replacement processor arrives Monday and gives me the chance to finish putting the parts together. If I’m somehow wrong with all this information, please leave a comment and explanation. Thanks.

*****

Update 2009-08-10 — At Mwave, they let you configure a Shuttle SA76G2 barebone mini-PC with the OCZ OCZ2RPR10664GK 4GB Kit.

The problem is that the heat spreaders for the memory sticks are too tall for the case. How would they have tested the system? Why is it an option?

Two strikes on Mwave.

So, the beastly memory kit is heading back and the OCZ Fatal1ty Edition 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model OCZ2F10664GK will hopefully arrive tomorrow.

If you follow me on Twitter, I was griping about something else. An error on my part is that I forgot to buy thermal compound. Fortunately, Radio Shack had Arctic Silver® 5 and Arctic Silver® Céramique. I went with Céramique.

[amtap amazon:asin=B000BSLU2S]

[amtap amazon:asin=B0007Y836W]

*****

Update 2009-08-10 3pm — Wait, the barebones system did come with thermal compound! Stars Heatsink Compound, to be exact. It was hiding behind the CD. Oh well, it’s cheaper stuff that definitely wouldn’t perform as well as Arctic Silver®.

I am idiot.

Update 2009-08-12 5:30pm — Memory came in two days later because he went with Egg Saver (free) shipping.

I snapped the two sticks into the motherboard, plugged in the hard drive and DVD burner, and powered on the computer.

The Windows install — from partitioning the hard drive to Windows desktop — took about 15 minutes.

A detail (Mwave) overlooked is that the Shuttle SA76G2 only supports memory types DDR2 533/667/800. Buying DDR2 1066 was overkill. Fortunately, there isn’t even a price difference. Of course, it runs fine at DDR2 800. Nothing to worry about.

Windows 7 didn’t need me to install additional drivers. Nice.

My friend is taking the system home tomorrow because he won’t get a chance to use his new computer tonight. Then, he’ll run it through the paces. (He’s a graphic designer.)

Published by

Bryan Villarin

Bryan is a Community Guardian at Automattic. He's also a photographer, card magician, and cat whisperer. (Thanks to my friend and colleague Steve Blythe for the sweet photo!)

19 thoughts on “Thoughts on the Shuttle SA76G2 barebone mini-PC”

  1. Whew, this just shows how far behind the times I am with computer hardware these days – I didn’t realize AMD was selling a 125W and a 95W version of the same processor. At the same price, to boot. Why would they do that?

    I know you probably didn’t try it, but I wonder if wouldn’t just work, even with the 125W version. Probably best not to take the chance and make work for yourself down the road…🙂

    Like

    1. charlie: It doesn’t make sense to me, either. I didn’t try it because we were going to return it unopened, in hopes there wouldn’t be a restocking fee.

      Fortunately, there are lots of user ratings (compared to how things used to be), so it’s not as intimidating to jump back into this stuff. I’m alo not into trying to overclock anymore.

      Like

  2. Cheers for all this info, I’m building a sff system for my friend and was wondering if your friend put a graphics card in the system since he’s a graphic designer and if so which one?

    Like

  3. I have a question, do you think the ATI3000 is adequate to run HD content? I have an AMD x2 6000+ already that I’ll be putting into this build. This will be used as a HTPC so no gaming involved. I just wanted to be sure that the integrated video could handle the content.

    Thanks

    Like

  4. I just purchased an SA76G2 with an AMD Athlon II X2 250 dual-core proc running at 3.0GHz. Unfortunately however, the system just won’t boot. I used the heat sink that came with the Shuttle (and not the one that came with the proc, since it didn’t look like it would fit). My fear is that this only supports AM2 but the X2 250 is an AM3 chip. However, according to Shuttle, the SA76G2 supports AM2/AM2+/AM3. Any tricks? Why isn’t it booting? Thanks!

    Like

  5. Thanks Bryan! I have posted on the h/w forum you mentioned. The CPU Power Consumption rating for this processor is 65W, so it should be ok. Thanks again!

    Like

  6. Ok, figured it out. It was an issue not with the CPU but with the memory. I was using DDR2 Patriot Memory 2 x 1GB memory sticks (PC6400, 800MHz). I used DDR2 Patriot Memory 2 x 2GB memory sticks (PC7200, 900MHz) instead and it worked fine and I was able to boot it and install CentOs Linux.

    -Hazem

    Like

  7. If you read my comment on New Egg – I note exactly these 2 very important things. Except somehow my comment got buried with 16 thumbs downs.

    I’ll sell you our complete system. Is it worth 30% less to me if it can’t be overclocked.

    Like

  8. I was also looking at building this system. Thanks for the comment on new-egg concerning the processor limit related to total wattage. New-egg has added a notation just below the processor selection. I went to the shuttle site and reviewed all the specifications there. I noticed the processors are limited as well and that the Athlon II is not supported. Thanks for the tips on the memory, and the heat-sink compound.

    I will spend some more time looking at the specifications on this machine before purchasing. Mine will need an alternate video card as there will be games played on the machine. I got out of PCs many years ago after damaging a few motherboards and processors by over clocking etc. I bought a PS3 and a Mac and let it go at that. No regrets. I find it amazing that you were able to setup the windows install in 15 min. I remember this taking several hours with XP (initial install and then the mass of upgrades).

    Did you friend find this to be a stable system? PCs are still a black art, a dab of this manufacturer and pinch from this manufacturer and a sprinkle from another, and abracadabra you have a PC. I found variation in component specifications, to be the problem with these self built machines, especially video cards and controllers. The manufacturers reluctantly do not supply the engineering data which allows the builder to make the correct choices in compatible components. Does shuttle define the acceptable video cards for this machine? Or do they just indicate AGP?

    Like

    1. Bobby:

      Did you friend find this to be a stable system?

      He hasn’t reported any problems yet.

      Does shuttle define the acceptable video cards for this machine? Or do they just indicate AGP?

      I don’t know. He’s using integrated video, nor did we look.

      If you’re using the computer for gaming, you should consider an alternative computer build that allows you to use a stronger power supply.

      Like

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