Shuttle XPC with AM2 socket, headless system starting under $500

From Bilbo
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At the risk of sounding like a walking advertisement, this system is really friggen cool, and the price is really friggen cool, too!

This is a wishlist I made containing a selection of components that seem cost-effective. Most components have several options depending on what you're looking for. You can build a basic workstation for well under $500, or you can upgrade it to dual-core, twice the RAM, a good fanless dual-DVI video card, a burner, and a large disk, while staying under $800. All of it works in FreeBSD except the onboard NIC.


  • Box: Notice there's no CPU fan and no chipset fan. There are only 2 fans, and both are large (meaning they're quieter and unlikely to fail). One is in the CPU and one is on the back of the case. This is a major selling point.
  • Video: For a single CRT, use the onboard video (don't order a video card). For DVI or for dual displays, use Newegg's power-search to find a card with 16x PCI-E, 2 DVI outputs, and no fan. Select Nvidia for FreeBSD support since two DVI displays currently doesn't work on ATI cards (this may be an 6.9 problem. Avoid video cards with fans if at all possible, because many fans fail after a couple years (unless you don't care whether it outlasts its warranty), and they make more noise with little benefit.
  • CPU: Choose from a cheap Athlon 64, a cost-effective Athlon 64 X2 (dual-core), and a higher-end Athlon 64 X2.
  • RAM: Reliability of the RAM is important. I like Crucial, especially since their prices aren't as high as they used to be. The motherboard has two slots. Consider whether it's more cost-effective to buy two smaller RAM modules. Sometimes prices will have dropped enough by the time you want to upgrade it that it's less money to throw away one of the smaller modules you bought originally (or maybe you can put that module in another computer). Of course, to make this decision you have to be reasonably sure whether you'll want to upgrade and how long it'll be until then.
  • Hard disk: Always buy a disk with a 5 year warranty. It's worth the little extra money.
  • Optical drive: The burner listed burns all formats except blu-ray, and has lightscribe support, and costs only a few dollars more than the cheapest burners. Lite-On seems to be a decent brand, if there is one. If you want to save $15, choose the DVD-ROM drive instead. If you choose another drive, try to find a drive with at least 512K cache and remember to get the black bezel.
  • Peripherals: If you aren't upgrading an old system, add a monitor, keyboard, mouse, and speakers. Often these are cheaper to buy in town. Shipping is expensive for monitors, and there's little difference between prices on cheap peripherals.
  • Cooling: The box comes with a little thermal paste, but it may be worth getting high-grade thermal paste (I did) because it uses heat pipes instead of a CPU fan, which may be slightly less effective.
  • FreeBSD: Everything works in FreeBSD 6.2 except the onboard NIC, which I hope will be supported soon (until then, add a PCI NIC). ({sigh} Why does VIA keep changing the trivial hardware, thus breaking support for alternative operating systems?)


Since Newegg randomly removes item listings with no trace and sometimes puts them back, the list is duplicated below.


  • $180 - Shuttle XPC SK22G2B AMD Socket AM2 AMD Athlon X2 / Athlon 64 FX / Athlon 64 VIA K8M890CE Barebone - Retail


  • About $80. These change too quickly to list here. Use the power-search as described above.


  • $75 - AMD Athlon 64 3200+ Orleans 2.0GHz Socket AM2 Processor Model ADA3200CNBOX - Retail
  • $109 - AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ Windsor 2.0GHz Socket AM2 Processor Model ADA3800CUBOX - Retail
  • $175 - AMD Athlon 64 X2 4600+ Windsor 2.4GHz Socket AM2 Processor Model ADA4600IAA5CU - OEM


  • $70 - Crucial Ballistix 512MB 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Desktop Memory Model BL6464AA804 - OEM
  • $150 - Crucial Ballistix 1GB 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Desktop Memory Model BL12864AA804 - OEM

Hard disk:

  • $120 - Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 ST3400620AS 400GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM
  • $45 - Seagate Barracuda 7200.9 ST380811AS 80GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM

Optical drive:

  • $19 - SONY Black IDE DVD-ROM Drive Model DDU1615/B2s - OEM
  • $35 - LITE-ON 20X DVD±R DVD Burner with 12X DVD-RAM write and LightScribe Technology Black E-IDE/ATAPI Model LH-20A1H-185 - OEM


  • $16 - Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound