Friday, March 05, 2004

Tom's Hardware Guide PCs & HowTo: Cooler and Quieter Barebones PCs? - Choices Galore

Tom's Hardware Guide PCs & HowTo: Cooler and Quieter Barebones PCs? - Choices Galore
Nice review of this marketplace. I'm very interested in these ultracompacts. Heat is an issue, sounds like an external power supply is the answer (just like laptop). They are basically very similar to the original "portables", including carrying bags reminescent of the Osborne bags. I want to pair one with the new Hitachi SATA drive for an XP workstation and game machine.

There's a more recent article, also from Tom's Hardware, here. This one had some cautionary notes:
Due to the crowded configuration of electricity-devouring components, a conflict of purposes automatically arises: the high degree of heat build-up requires a sophisticated cooling concept. There is enormous scope for development work, precisely with regard to this aspect. Most mini-PCs at full capacity currently make significantly more noise than comparably fitted tower systems. But systems such as the Soltek EQ3701M and, to some extent, some of the XPC Shuttle models show what can be done with conventional aids (fans). [put power supply outside of box?]

A quick run-down of some highlights of this test: two systems with powerful ATI graphics (IGP9100 onboard) - Biostar iDEQ 200A and Shuttle XPC ST61G4 - are also suitable for newer 3D games because of their DirectX-8.1 compatibility. Not so the Intel 865G (DirectX 7) and Nvidia NForce 2 (DirectX 7 with GeForce-2 core), which are completely outmoded and only good for 2D applications. If you want to get the most out of current DirectX-9 games, sooner or later you'll have to get yourself an AGP graphic a lá GeForce FX5950 or Radeon 9800.

The Aopen with the XC Cube EZ65 is a winner right from the start, a sleek combination of great looks and good equipment coupled with neat details. Soltek sets the tone with the EQ3701M's very low running noise - similar to the previous test. Biostar is putting up some competition for Shuttle: the manufacturer likewise offers a mini-system for the Athlon 64 (Socket 754) - for under $383 (300 Euro).

That just leaves us wishing for an integrated DVI interface so that the mini-PC could give optimum output with a TFT monitor. Or how about HDMI straight off?

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