Building Your Home Theater Around the PC

Biostar IDeQ 200T Small Form Factor PC

With its iDeQ 200T model, Biostar offers a small form factor PC with restrained design intended for Intel Pentium 4 or Celeron 4 (socket 478) processors. This particular model has a sliding front panel that hides the opening for the DVD player and memory-card reader. As for connectivity, the iDEQ 200T is well endowed. On the front panel are a Firewire port, two USB 2.0 ports, a microphone jack, a headphone jack and an S/PDIF optical connector. On the rear are the usual PS/2 connectors for the keyboard and mouse, three audio jacks (configurable for six-channel output), an S/PDIF digital optical output, a Firewire port and two more USB 2.0 ports. Of course, the Biostar Small Form Factor PC has AGP and PCI slots for extension cards. The interior of the case is a model of neat layout, with no wires or cables sticking out - which makes it that much easier to install additional components. Price : about $200

Shuttle XPC SB61G2 Small Form Factor PC

Shuttle, a pioneer on the small form factor PC market, offers a wide range of products to suit all needs and also all budgets. For our purposes, we chose the SB61G2 model, which is not new on the market but does have an excellent quality/price ratio and is designed for Intel Pentium 4/Celeron (socket 478) processors. In terms of finish and esthetics, Shuttle has made enormous progress compared to the first small form factor PCs. Plastic has now been replaced by brushed aluminum. Connectivity is complete, with two USB 2.0 ports, a Firewire port and the usual headphone and microphone inputs on the front panel. At the rear are four more USB 2.0 ports, a Firewire port and the analog and digital (optical) audio outputs. Installing the components inside the case is fairly easy, despite the cable bundle that passes above the motherboard. Price : about $250