Biostar iDEQ 350G SFF PC
The iDEQ 350G: Interior
Opening the system is an extremely painless procedure thanks to the use of thumbscrews for the removal of the three individual panels covering the top and sides of the system. Each vented side panel and the solid top panel have small lips which lock into appropriate slots on the main chassis. Perhaps the most innovative feature of the iDEQ 350G is its ability to unlock its frame and open to completely expose the front of the motherboard and all the appropriate components. By pushing two slides on the bottom of the chassis, the hinged front of the aluminum chassis can freely rotate above the system allowing easy access to the system's internal components. When you're ready to lock the system back up, you simply lower the front portion and lock the bottom slides back into place. A handy status indicator is located on the chassis next to the optical drive that illustrates whether the front panel is fully locked into the appropriate place. Overall, this is an ingenious feature that makes component installation a significantly easier experience.
Looking at the front of the motherboard, we see the base for the system's heatsink assembly. The retention system is clean and simple using a leaf spring that presses down on the heatsink base and locks into place under a plastic tab. Overall it's a simple and effective solution that gets the job done with minimal effort. Along the side, we find two DIMM slots which support up to 2GB of DDR2 667MHz memory. The only other notable feature in this vicinity is the Realtek audio chipset. In practice, the iDEQ 350G's 8-channel audio proved more than capable for a multimedia system.
Like all SFF systems, one of the most critical components in the iDEQ 350G is the heatsink assembly. Regardless of how many features a system has or how fast it performs in benchmarks, a noisy CPU fan can be the total downfall of a SFF system. Fortunately, Biostar has chosen to use a copper-based heatsink with heatpipes to effectively cool the processor. At each open end of the heatsink, there is a fan which allows cool air to be pulled through the ventilation at the front of the system and bring it directly over the fins of the heatsink and out towards the back of the system. In addition to cooling the cpu, this cool air also manages to run directly over the passive northbridge and southbridge heatsinks keeping their temperature under control as well. The hot ambient air is then collected by the blower fan at the back of the system and exhausted through the backpanel. Overall, this cooling system did an excellent job of keeping noise and temperatures low and ensuring overall stability.
Biostar has also seen fit to address a common fault with SFF systems by placing the PCI-E slot on the inside left position on the backplane. This allows users to use the latest high-end graphics cards with somewhat meaty heatsink assemblies as there is a fair amount of room between the PCI-E slot and the exhaust blower fan towards the center of the system. For our testing purposes, we installed a GeForce 6600 without issue though your mileage may vary when dealing with graphics cards with longer PCB's such as the GeForce 7800 series and Radeon X1800 series. Users wishing to install additional cards such as discrete soundcards, TV tuners, and more can rejoice as the Biostar system has two additional PCI slots for such a purpose.
Lastly, at the back of the system we have an Enhance power supply that is rated for 300W. Although this seems inferior when compared to the 800W SLI-capable behemoths we've seen as of late, the solid 300W rating should be more than enough for nearly any single GPU configuration that's currently available. In the lab we had the system configured with a 3.6GHz Pentium 4, 1GB DDR2, a 250GB hard drive, DVD+/-RW, 802.11g PCI adaptor, and a GeForce 6600 without any stability issues whatsoever. Overall, the quality components and effective cooling of the PSU resulted in a solid and robust component and rock solid stability.