Shuttle SA76G2 review

Price when reviewed

Even by Shuttle’s low-key standards, the SA76G2 is outwardly pretty unremarkable — from the front you’d be hard pushed to distinguish it from any other XPC barebone system.

Shuttle SA76G2 review

What makes it potentially interesting is its support for Phenom II processors. With the powerful Phenom II X4 965 riding high on our A List, this looks like it might be a way to get a compact workstation for a surprisingly low price.

But look more closely and you find your options are limited. For a start, only CPUs with a TDP of 105W or lower are supported. That rules out the X4 965, as well as the older X4 955. The most powerful quad-core it’ll take is the 95W Phenom II X4 945 model, which comes with a locked 3.0GHz clock. Thankfully, triple- and dual-core parts should all be usable.

What’s more, the SA76G2 uses the older AM2+ architecture, rather than AM3, so no matter which CPU you pick you’ll be stuck with DDR2 and won’t get the full benefit of the modern Phenom II architecture. With only two DIMM slots, your expansion options are limited too.

On the plus side, the motherboard does come with an integrated GPU. The Radeon 3000 isn’t a realistic option for games, but it’s perfectly good for desktop graphics, and its DVI and VGA outputs will happily support a two-monitor setup.

If you find yourself wanting to add a real graphics card, there’s a PCI-E x16 slot, but don’t get too ambitious: double-height cards won’t fit, and the lightweight 250W power supply doesn’t offer a six-pin power connector.

As usual with Shuttle, there’s also a standard PCI socket, and both SATA and IDE support, so you can fill the three drive bays (one 5.25in, two 3.5in) however you like. Six USB ports, integrated Gigabit Ethernet and Realtek 6-channel audio complete the expected specification.

All of which means that although the SA76G2 isn’t ideal for a high-performance role, it ticks all the right boxes as the basis of a space-saving office PC. That being the case, the price looks right, and while it’s hard to get excited about such a modest package, it’s also very hard to find any real complaint.

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