Soltek QBIC EQ3501-Pro Barebones PC

Introduction and System Specs

When we pause to think of some of the more memorable, market driving, changes to the computer industry, the advent of the mini-PC is one of the first to come to mind.  What started out as a single offering from Shuttle has grown into a market in and of itself, with new entries from a wide range of companies hitting the retail channel regularly.  What was a bold, pioneering direction to take for Shuttle, ended up being far bigger than many of us would have imagined.

Now that mini PC products have had time to mature, they have evolved into a major industry.  What started as a basic design now brings innovative ideas to the table such as unique cooling designs aimed at lowering fan noise and more efficient case designs that accommodate more components without an increased footprint.  Today, many options abound for the do-it-yourself HTPC crowd looking for innovative solutions in the quest to build the perfect mini-PC.

We're going to take a look at the latest mini PC to arrive from Soltek.  While not  necessarily a pioneer in the industry, Soltek has its own line of mini PCs that offer that latest technology wrapped up in a small package.  Not willing to settle and stamp out new PCs based on existing designs, Soltek has come up with a few unique options to help set them apart from the rest.  Let's take a look at see how they fared with a review of their QBIC EQ3501 Pro barebones mini-PC. 

Specifications of the Soltek QBIC EQ3501-Pro
How'd They Fit it All?
Intel 915G + ICH6R

CPU Socket 775 on board.

Front Side Bus:
800/533MHz Front Side Bus.

2 x 184-pin DDR DIMM Sockets.
Supporting unregistered non-ECC DDR 400/333 DRAM up to 2GB.
Supporting Dual-Channel.

Expansion Slots:
1 x PCI Express*16 Slot.
1 x PCI Slot.

On-Board EIDE:
1 x ATA100/66 IDE connectors supporting up to 2 IDE devices.
On-Board SATA:
4 x Serial ATA connectors supporting 4 Serial ATA devices. (by ICH6R)

Integrated Super I/O:
1 x Floppy Port.
1 x PS/2 Mouse Port.
1 x PS/2 Keyboard Port.
1 x Gigabit LAN Port.
1 x Serial Port.
8 x USB 2.0/1.1 Ports. (4 integrated, 4 via optional cables)
Audio Ports.
2 x IEEE1394 Ports. (1 integrated, 1 via optional cable)
1 x VGA Port.

4 x Serial ATA connectors supported by ICH6R. (RAID0, 1)

2 x IEEE1394 Ports. (1 integrated, 1 via optional cable)

8-Channel AC'97 Audio.
Gigabit 10/100/1000 LAN Function.

Flash Memory for easy upgrade.

Form Factor:
180mm x 270mm

Other Features:
BIOS FSB Setting.
BIOS Writing Protection.
BIOS AGP, DIMM, Vcore Voltage Setting.
BIOS Multiplier Setting.
SmartDoc. Anti-burning Shield. (optional)
RedStorm Overclocking Technology. (optional)
Soltek H/W Monitor.
STR Function.
SAT (Smart Acceleration Technology) LED onboard.
Front Panel I/O:
2 x USB 2.0/1.1 Ports.
1 x Mic-In Port.
1 x Line-Out Port.
1 x IEEE1394a Port.
1 x S/PDIF Out Port.

Back Panel I/O:
1 x VGA Port.
1 x Serial Port.
1 x PS/2 Keyboard Port.
1 x PS/2 Mouse Port.
4 x USB 2.0/1.1 Ports.
1 x Gigabit 10/100/1000 LAN Port.
1 x Line-In Port. (Blue)
1 x Front-Out Port. (Green)
1 x Side Surround-Out Port. (Gray)
1 x Center/Subwoofer-Out Port. (Orange)
1 x Rear Surround-Out Port. (Black)
1 x IEEE1394 Port.

Power Supply:
300W (APFC)

Since the QBIC EQ3501 Pro is a mini-PC, much of its components are already installed, so the bundle might seem lighter than typical motherboard packages.  Nonetheless, Soltek included everything needed to get the machine assembled and functional quickly.  Just add a CPU, Memory, Hard Drives and CD/DVD-ROMs and Soltek takes care of the rest.  Two SATA cables were included as well as rounded floppy and IDE cables.  For SATA power, a single molex-SATA adapter was included as well as plenty of zip-ties and mounting screws. 


Documentation was plentiful with this unit, although it was a bit generic.  For example, the Quick Installation Guide didn't cover the exact unit, instead showing how to install the older Pentium 4 rather than the socket 775 this model is equipped with.  The User's Manual covered all of the motherboard's features and setup thoroughly, whereas the QBIC installation Guide rehashed the same information that the Quick Installation Guide provided.  The Powerful System Utilities guide that covered installation and usage of bonus software included in the bundle such as PC-Cillin 2004, VirtualDrive 7, PartitionMagic 6.0SE, DriveImage 4 and more.  Rounding out the package was a floppy disk with ICH6-R RAID Drivers, which are needed during installation.

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