Biostar iDEQ 200T: Great Performance & Brilliant Designby Wesley Fink on September 29, 2003 10:24 PM EST
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Shuttle pioneered the Small Form Factor computer, and has remained the standard against which all others are measured. Biostar, however, has recently been a real challenger to Shuttle with brilliant SFF engineering and well-conceived SFF designs. The Biostar iDEQ 200T continues the recent evolution of the Biostar SFF.
Early SFF designs were hampered by old technology and many compromises that resulted from the small form factor design. The best recent SFF designs, on the other hand, have been completely up to date in technology with few compromises for the size of the Small Form Factor. In fact, in our last review, we compared the Shuttle SB65G2 to the best of our 865/875 motherboard tests and found it held its own in that lofty company. The Biostar iDEQ 200T is the same type of SFF, sporting all the features of the latest Intel 865 boards. It adds the updated Intel Extreme Graphics that were integrated into the new 865G chipset. So the iDEQ makes perfect sense as a complete starter computer, but with room to grow for the future.
While everyone seems to love the quiet little SFF machines, most assume that there are just too many compromises in performance with these machines. Biostar, like the recently reviewed Shuttle, appears out to prove that you don’t have to give up anything important to have a small, quiet computer.
The Biostar iDEQ 200T uses the latest Intel 865G chipset with support for any current Intel processor, including the 800FSB C series. Other top-line features are Dual-Channel memory support, an 8X AGP slot in addition to on-board graphics, 8 USB 2.0 ports, 2 Firewire, Serial ATA/SATA RAID, Optional AirLink wireless LAN connections, and CMedia 5.1 audio. It is also very quiet with the normal “Smart Fan” enabled. Biostar clearly made every effort to build an SFF that can compete with any 865 computer with these up-to-the minute features. In fact, the SFF often have much more port flexibility than traditional motherboard/ATX case/power supply designs, since they are designed from the start for the chassis/motherboard/cooling system to work together. All of this is built into the stylish Aluminum iDEQ chassis that we first saw on the iDEQ 200N Athlon SFF.
|Biostar iDEQ 200T||Shuttle SB65G2|
|Expansion Bays (5.25"/3.5"/Hidden)||1/1/1||1/1/1|
|Front USB Ports||2||2|
|Rear USB Ports||2||4|
|Internal USB Ports||4||2|
|Front Firewire Ports||1 Standard||1 Mini|
|Rear Firewire Ports||1 Standard||1 Standard|
|On-Board Parallel Port||Internal Header||Internal Header|
|On-Board Game Port||Internal Header||None|
|On-Board Serial Ports||2 — One Rear & One Internal Header||2 Rear|
|Front Audio Jacks||2 — Mini Mic & Heaphone||3 Mini|
|Rear Audio Jacks||3 Mini||3 Mini|
|SPDIF||Two: Rear Optical Out & Front Optical In||Two: Rear Optical SPDIF In & Out|
|Number of Fans (including CPU/chipset)||2||1|
|Power Supply||200W Enhance||220W Enhance|
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Anonymous User - Monday, October 6, 2003 - linkhttp://www.sfftech.com/showdocs.cfm?aid=442
Anonymous User - Sunday, October 5, 2003 - linkBe warned. They still need to work on the power supply for these systems. I own a Shuttle, and basically had to rip out the crappy 200W PSU and use an external 350W PSU (probably 300W may have been enough). With the stock PSU, the system would basically hang after any kind of intensive activity (try a stress test on the system for an hour or so).
These systems overdrive the PSU, and while you will hear stories of people running 17 harddrives and their latest ATI Bongo 945600 on an overclocked box -- those are very much the exceptions. You either have to hook up a better PSU externally -- basically invalidating the whole purpose behind a SFF in the first place, or you have to play roulette with reordering 200W PSUs until you get a particular item which may work overdriven (but for how long?)
I see SHuttle has 220W PSU's in their newer versions, which should help.. but considering that people run the same hardware with 350W PSU's in bigger boxes, I still remain *very* suspicious of their claims.
Wesley Fink - Saturday, October 4, 2003 - link#11 - The Shuttle and Biostar are the same size. A review will be posted shortly on the Soltek SFF which is a bit taller and has 2-5.25" bays and a 250W PS. I've included a picture of the Soltek and Biostar side-by-side in that review.
#20 - As you can see on the Shuttle and Biostar Forums on some boards, users have been modifying these machines. You are correct that the internal USB headers have no matching punch-out for an external header, but most USB connectors are on slot brackets and you could certainly get a 4-port slot bracket for one of the two slots in the rear. Also you could use a hard-drive where the floppy goes - just be very careful of heat build-up. It should work fine.
Anonymous User - Friday, October 3, 2003 - linkCan someone explain to me what "internal" USB ports are for? I note the sb65g2 has a total of 6 ports (4 rear, 2 front) while the 200t has 4 (2 rear, 2 front). But the article says the 200t has 4 more "internal" USB ports, and the sb65g2 has 2 more internally. There's no breakout (that I noticed) for adding more external ports using a header (like the parallel port header allows), so what good are internal ports?
Also, is there any reason why one could not put a second hard drive where the floppy goes, like one can do in the sb65g2?
(I'm really torn between the two machines!!! Grrr.)
Anonymous User - Thursday, October 2, 2003 - linkI would like to upgrade from my present SFF (ASUS Terminator) but want to install dual HDs. Your review mentioned an optional dual HD cage. Any info available on where this might be found. Typically I've found that optional items on SFF machines are not available (except maybe in Taiwan).
hirschma - Wednesday, October 1, 2003 - linkPost #10 - perhaps you _should_ test the SPDIF input. That was the problem when I bought the Biostar 200N - Biostar said that it had input, every reviewer said the same... turns out that it was on Biostar's spec page, and every reviewer just took their word for it.
Would your review be so glowing if it turned out that a major feature for some wasn't really there?
Don't reviewers have some responsibility to ensure that all advertised features actually are present?
It ain't that hard to test - hook up your PS2 or similar, and see if it passes audio, no?
rhacquer - Tuesday, September 30, 2003 - linkOh, I got the jones for a SFF rig now... soon as we put on a new roof, pay for baby's private school, replace my 12 yr old car, etc. :-(
Anonymous User - Tuesday, September 30, 2003 - linkpost # 14 - SIZE
Anonymous User - Tuesday, September 30, 2003 - link50 Dba is twice as loud as 40Dba, not 10x as much.
Anonymous User - Tuesday, September 30, 2003 - linkfill me in on the power supply .. why are the sff's 200 watts versus pc at 450 or so? why so much less power?