A Closer Look at the S-presso Deluxe - Inside
To open the S-presso Deluxe, ASUS came up with a unique hinged design that we found difficult to work with. In order to open the S-presso, the front panel must first be removed. When doing this, we found a series of coiled springs used to sense the touch panel, which conducted to the circuit board behind it. When we took the door off, one of the springs inadvertently fell off. This wasn't a major problem, but if you do not put the correct end on, the sensor it is attached to will not function. Once the front panel is removed, a screw at the rear of the unit needs to be loosened, then the shell slides forward about a half inch so the hinged mechanism can move freely. We found the sliding part very difficult, having to tap the handle forward several times to get it to budge. Even after doing the process several times, it never got any easier and we suspect a number of users will find this frustrating.
Once the unit was opened, the inner components are exposed and easily accessed. At the core of the unit was ASUS' P4P8T micro-ATX motherboard which is driven by the Intel I865G Chipset. Supporting older Socket 478 Pentium 4 processors and DDR1, the S-presso Deluxe is a little behind the performance times, but is still a generally powerful system. With one AGP and one PCI slot, there is little room for growth, especially if the PCI slot is occupied by the optional TV-Tuner, a WinFast TV2000 XP Expert. Two DIMM slots are provided for a maximum of 2GB of PC3200 memory while the integrated graphics is powered by Intel's Extreme Graphics capable of accessing 32MB of shared-memory.
Powering the S-presso Deluxe is a 220w PSU that is held in place with a simple retention clip. The PSU needs to be removed in order to mount the custom CPU cooler, which was a simple, painless task. User's looking to install a power hungry GeForce 6800 may be pushing their luck if it's an ultra, but our standard ASUS V9999 GeForce 6800 GE seemed to be perfectly happy during our benchmarking phase and was listed as an approved card for the S-presso. Nonetheless, power is something to consider if a power-hungry after market card is going to be installed.
Overall, the S-presso Deluxe is a potent little unit that suffers from some construction issues as well as a few feature issues. For one, the system lacks a TV-Out option, a common staple in mini-PCs and something that was expected with this type of machine. Additionally, with the integrated TV tuner installed, there is no room for a sound card. While the integrated audio was OK for average PC speakers, the output was lacking when connected to a stereo receiver input. With ASUS pushing the S-presso Deluxe as a centerpiece for your home entertainment needs, these two issue become majors strikes against an otherwise impressive mini-PC, making us wonder just how much of a "centerpiece" it can truly be. On a more positive note, we found the assembly of the system components to be a smooth process.