Choices Galore, Continued
Because of the inherent small dimensions with which to work, barebones systems makers often do not have access to a wide variety of viable cooling systems that are available to traditional-sized PC makers.
Instead, the barebones makers must rely on so-called heat-pipe-systems for cooling. The system engenders bothersome noise levels caused by one or more fans needed for sufficient air circulation around the cooling fins.
Setting the trend: Mini-PCs with a big display
Intel's top model, the 3.2 GHz P4, represents the Intel platform barebones tested. Although the bulk is equipped with an onboard graphic Intel 865G chipset, we added the GeForceFX 5900 Ultra graphic card in all of the systems, and supplied each system with one GByte of DDR400 memory. round up the power-minis. In the end, these systems can easily keep up with the big desktops, although they are comparatively much more expensive.
Shuttle's barebones SN85G4 using an Athlon 64 platform is based on an Athlon 64 3200+. At this point in time, the enthusiast user will ask when the Athlon 64 FX with a socket 940 platform will become available.
A newcomer with a good start: the eX5 Mini ME from Epox
Better Finishing TouchesWe saw right away that all test candidates offered excellent quality cases, complete with case flaps and doors that can be opened easily and smoothly. Indeed, hard-to-open cases have hopefully become a thing of the past.