Four Quiet and Powerful Mini PCs for Intel CPUs

Biostar IDEQ 350G: Quiet And Elegant

This attractive mini PC features blue ornamentation
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Biostar's new iDEQ 350G resembles its predecessors in both form and function. The only thing that's really different about its appearance is its blue ornamentation, rather than the green widgets included in the iDEQ 300G model. This unit includes neither a built-in VFD nor any multi-function buttons for playback of audio or video CDs and DVDs. Of course, this also means there's no remote control included either. Nevertheless, the iDEQ 350 still makes a good overall impression.

Brief Overview
Model Biostar iDEQ 350G
Chipset Intel 945G / ICH7R
CPUs supported Pentium D / Pentium 4
Front Side Bus 533 / 800 / 1066 MHz
RAM supported DDR2 Dual Channel 533 / 667
HDD interfaces 2 x SATA / 1 x IDE
LAN 1 x Gigabit Ethernet
Sound 7.1 High Definition Audio
Expansion Capabilities

Slots for one PCIe and one PCI 32-bit expansion card

In the design of its expansion slots, Biostar demonstrates that you can make room for more than two cards in a mini-PC. The iDEQ 350G accommodates one PCIe 16x and one PCI 32-bit slot on the right side of the motherboard, with a PCIe x1 slot on the left side, plus a mini-PCI slot on the underside as well. All told, that adds up to four expansion slots, which should be sufficient for most buyers.

The tricky part of this proposition comes down to their placement, rather than their quantity. The Mini-PCI slot is designed for a WLAN module, but whatever interface of this type you might wish to install must be accessed from the bottom of the case. The PCIe x1 connector is on the left side of the box as you face the front. While you can insert compatible cards into this slot, they can't be too long, or they'll collide with the DIMM sockets where the system RAM resides.

Things get even trickier on the other side of the case with the other two sockets. You can indeed use both of them, but you must make sure to pick a graphics card that's sufficiently narrow to leave the other one clear. Unfortunately, this removes from consideration most high-end graphics cards (such as 7x00 Nvidia or ATI x1x00 models).

Crafty cooperation among three fans inside the 350G case results in cooling that's both effective and incredibly quiet. After an initial ramp-up to maximum RPMs, these fans spin themselves down to a comfortable noise level. Biostar includes a home-grown monitoring utility that watches over case temperatures and regulates the CPU and fan speeds accordingly. We measured sound levels at just over 40 dB(A) in our testing.

Pros And Cons

Pros

  • Attractive exterior and finish
  • Barely audible
  • Easy to expand or upgrade
  • User-friendly front panel latch
  • Numerous expansion slots (PCI, PCIe x16, PCIe x1)
  • Mini-PCI socket included
  • Interior wiring well-organized and routed

Cons

  • Too few Serial ATA connectors
  • No external SATA connector
  • No room for wide graphics cards
  • Power connector for PCI Express is absent
Temperature Measurements

Ratings
Biostar iDEQ 350G
Weighting Category Results Achieved
35% Equipment 90%
35% Ergonomics 95%
10% Noise Levels 90%
10% Price-to-value 80%
5% Design 90%
5% Service 85%
Total Results 91%

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