No More Penny-Pinching: Seven Mini-PCs On The Catwalk

Soltek QBIC EQ3701M, Continued

Basically on the interior of the Soltek it is less squeezed than with the systems of the competition, because there is more height (and volume) available. From the outset, this causes fewer heat problems - even when several hard drives are used simultaneously. Since the package contents does not include a special CPU cooler, the best thing to use is a boxed cooler if no FSB overclocking is planned. The power supply, with an output of 200 watts, could be laid out to be somewhat stronger for future configurations. Too many flanged screws and cables need to be undone to install an AGP graphics card. However, the use of flanged screws deserves respect, because no additional tool is necessary. That is not the case with some of its competitors. The last test already told us that in terms of operating noise, Soltek is the quietest. The manufacturer relies on a passive cooling system for the chipset Northbridge, and for the system fan it relies on a model with a large diameter and lower rpm. It goes without saying that the rpm of the CPU fan is regulated in any case.

More a matter of taste is the shiny front panel, which is lit up in the dark by very bright status LEDs on the sides. The extreme mirroring effect also has its downside: Electrostatic charges permanently attract tiny particles and lead to constant "polishing" of the front panel.

Even with the Soltek there are a number of cables that cross the interior of the PC

In summary, we can say that Soltek still offers one of the quietest bare-bones-systems around. The reason is the less crowded arrangement of components - the result of a larger case volume and better air circulation. The workmanship gives no cause for criticism, although the finish does not meet the top level of Shuttle or Aopen. The price is hot: Soltek charges about $383 (300 Euro) for the system.

Power supply with variable voltage: 115 volts or 230 volts

Seldom seen: TV output for DVD and Divx videos