Let’s take a closer look at the ports. The back of the 200P is very well populated. Here you’ll find two PS/2 ports, two serial ports, two USB 2.0 ports, a single FireWire port, an RJ45 connector, three audio connectors and an optical S/PDIF. The audio connectors are reconfigurable in software to allow you to use them for 5.1-channel audio or for normal usage if you need to use the line-in or a microphone. The only thing really missing here is a parallel port and I was told by Biostar that this is available as an add-on, but it’s currently not sold in the UK. There are ports on the motherboard for the parallel port and thus if you have the right connector you could fit this yourself. This could also be handy for anyone wanting to fit a small LCD display to the front of the i-DEQ as most LCD’s are controlled trough the parallel port.
Around the front of the 200P you’ll find a further two USB 2.0 ports, another FireWire port, a headphone and microphone socket and an optical S/PDIF input.
For those wanting to fit an internal card reader to the i-DEQ this is also possible thanks to Biostar being clever enough to fit an internal USB connector just below the hard drive caddy. Again this shows how well thought out the i-DEQ really is.
The 200P doesn’t have integrated graphics so you’re forced to fit a graphics card in it and this can be a bit tricky if you’re going for a larger graphics card, such as a GeForce FX5950. But it is possible to do this if you lift up the drive cage slightly when inserting the card. It is however a very tight fit and not something I would recommend. Smaller solutions like the FX5700 or a Radeon 9800 based card where much easier to fit and this also leaves the adjacent PCI slot free.
There are also two memory slots which will accept up to 1GB each of PC3200 DDR400 memory. These are easy to get to, making memory upgrades a simple procedure despite the small dimensions of the case.
In the accessories box you’ll find the aforementioned S-ATA data and power cables, blanking spacers for the exposed drive bays if you don’t use them, some thermal grease, a power cable, a bag of screws, a couple of CDs and two instruction manuals.
There is one general manual that covers all the functionality of the 200P and some basic tips and tricks. The second booklet is a multi-lingual installation guide in colour, which is a first for me. This makes it a lot easier to spot what you have to do and what goes where, so a big thumbs up to Biostar for this. What is not so impressive is the single, two sided, printed sheet with instructions for StudioFun! This is a Linux based application that enables you to play back videos, DVDs and music without having to boot into Windows.
StudioFun! is on one of the two supplied CDs whereas the second one contains the drivers for the motherboard. You’ll also find some extra applications from Biostar such as a Windows based BIOS flash utility, a fan control utility and a utility that allows you to switch between Windows and StudioFun!
So how does all this add up in the benchmarks? To be honest, it compares very well to the full size desktop boards reviewed last week. All of the scores are within the range seen in the Athlon 64 motherboard roundup which again is very impressive and makes this an even better choice if you want a small, quiet and stylish PC.
And the best thing of it all is the price, as you will be able to buy an i-DEQ for under £200, although they won’t be available in the UK for a couple of weeks yet. Bearing in mind that a normal Athlon 64 motherboard with similar features will set you back around £100 or more, this might seem a bit expensive. However, if you think about what you’re getting it’s not really that bad of a deal as the system is more or less pre assembled and you just have to choose your core components.
If I was looking for a small form factor PC, this is the one I would buy and I don’t think you can get a better recommendation that that.
The Biostar i-DEQ 200P offers quality, great design and good looks at an affordable price. On top of this you also get top notch performance without the noise associated with most desktop PCs.