Soltek's QBic EQ3901-300P SFF PC
Internal Layout & Noise Levels
Shuttle and Biostar have done a great job recently, pre-wiring their small form factor systems. Shuttle's SB81P especially, requires almost no effort when installing drives because the power and data cables are already in place when you take the system out of the box. Simply mount the drives, plug in the cables and you're done. Soltek, however, only had one IDE cable pre-installed in the EQ3901-300P that's aligned with the internal 3.5" drive bay at the bottom of the system. And we didn't even use that because we installed a SATA drive into the EQ3901 for testing...
Two screws at the top of the system secure the QBic EQ3901-300P's drive cage in place. Remove these two screws and the whole drive cage slides right out of the system, making it very easy to install RAM and the central processor. At the rear of the system, above the CPU socket, its ample 300W power supply is visible. The PSU's fan exhausts hot air from the system, as does the "ICY-Q" slot cooler mounted to the side. Sorry folks, no custom heatpipes and specialized cooling here.
Both the Northbridge and Southbridge are outfitted with aluminum heatsinks, which sit just below the drive cage, with very little clearance. The system is configured with a single PCI slot and a single AGP8X slot, a floppy controller, dual IDE channels, and dual SATA channels. The system supports RAID across the SATA channels, but there is only 1 internal 3.5" drive bay available, unless you forgo the use of the floppy drive.
The Soltek QBic EQ3901-300P has only three fans in the system (PSU, CPU, ICY-Q), four if you count the video card, which all throttle based on system temperature. We found the QBic 3901 to be somewhat loud in some situations, however. At idle, the EQ3901 was noticeably louder than the last few Shuttle XPCs to come through the lab. The noise level wasn't enough to be distracting, but it couldn't be considered quiet. With all of the fans spinning at full speed though, we found the EQ3901-300P to be a bit more silent than the Shuttle SB81P. Measuring noise levels with our trusty RadioShack meter, from about 2 feet away, yielded 44db at idle and 53db under load.