Upon unwrapping Systemax’s Endeavor box, it was clear we were working with a true workstation. The all-black chassis (black is the new beige) is pretty much par for the course. In fact, you might recognize the enclosure as Chenbro’s SR10566 Black. Having had hands-on time with some of the company’s rackmount server enclosures, Systemax’s choice to go with Chenbro for its Endeavor makes good sense.
The box is plenty sturdy. Crafted from .8mm steel, the chassis alone weighs more than 23 pounds (total shipping weight for the whole workstation is a staggering 64 pounds). Nothing about the external enclosure is particularly eye-catching, which most workstation customers will appreciate since this is no enthusiast configuration. The only real weakness we picked up on was a somewhat flimsy side panel, which popped in and out when pressed. Nobody’s ever going to notice something like that once the workstation is in place and running. Even still, .8mm steel shouldn’t do that.
A plastic, mesh-covered door masks the enclosure’s externally-accessible drives and connectors. Hinges on the door feature limited range, so you’ll only be able to swing it open 90 degrees from front bezel. We've seen plenty of instances where a less constrained door comes in useful, so the door's 90 degree hinge is a bit of a bummer. The SR10566 has three 5.25” bays, two of which come populated by a floppy drive and dual-layer DVD writer. To be honest, we could have done without the floppy, especially since Windows XP comes pre-installed on the workstation and anyone planning a move to Vista can install storage drivers straight from an optical disc.
Two USB 2.0 ports constitute all of the chassis front-panel connectivity and the rest of the bezel is consumed with air intakes and an 80mm fan that pulls air in through the front door and blows it over the workstation’s hard drives. Classy, yet simple. Even still, front access to the installed hard drives would have been nice, had the workstation featured a hot-swap cage.
Spin the chassis around and you’ll find fairly average I/O. The Silverstone ST75ZF power supply incorporates a fan pushing air from inside the case out through a vent in the back, so there’s no visible cooling from the back. That setup also seems to help the supply’s acoustic characteristics. Unfortunately, there’s a non-adjustable 120mm cooler right below the power supply cranking at full blast, generating plenty of noise.
The Supermicro rear I/O panel offers up PS/2 ports, one serial port, a single parallel port, four USB 2.0 connectors, twin RJ-45 jacks, and enough 1/8” mini-jacks for 7.1-channel analog output. Only one peripheral is plugged into the board’s expansion slots—a Quadro FX 1700. Its dual-link DVI outputs are, of course, available back there as well.
As a whole, nothing on the Endeavor's exterior screams eye-candy. Whereas tier-one boxes generally have their own unique touches, whether that is an integrated memory card reader, proprietary styling, or prominent branding, Systemax has adopted a less-is-more philosophy. On one hand, that’s great for the professional who isn’t trying to stand out with deep blue lighting or extra plastic pieces. On the other hand, you’re left with the feeling that the Endeavor is yet another whitebox workstation built using parts readily accessible to enthusiasts online. Thus, we’ll be looking for the system’s value somewhere other than its superficial shell.