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Biostar iDEQ 210P
While I’m waiting for the Biostar’s iDEQ 330P to arrive for testing having seen it at this year’s CeBIT, I’ve spent some time with the iDEQ 210P. It might not be quite as exciting as the new model, but it is none the less a very appealing SFF (Small Form Factor) barebone system.
In terms of design only minor changes have been made compared to the iDEQ 200 series with the most notable being to the fascia. Whether you like the change or not is down to personal taste but I preferred the older design. However, the build quality of the fascia has definitely improved with the brushed aluminium panels giving it a much more sophisticated look and feel.
The front mounted ports have now been hidden away behind a flap making for a cleaner look, though it makes it harder to get to the ports. The power button is now surrounded by red plastic and has been given an LED strip light down the middle that pulsates in different colours when the iDEQ 210P is switched on. To be honest, I find these kinds of features annoying, but again that is my opinion.
Internally, the motherboard is different to the previous models we have looked at and as such has different features. The 210P is based on the nVidia nForce 3 250Gb chipset and supports Socket-754 processors.
Around the back there are three audio ports for 5.1-channel sound, an optical S/PDIF output, two PS/2, two serial, and two USB 2.0 ports, a single six-pin FireWire connector and an Ethernet connector. The flap on the front hides another six-pin FireWire connector and another optical S/PDIF output, microphone and headphone sockets and a further two USB 2.0 ports.
The Realtek ALC655 audio controller is pretty basic, but you can reconfigure the rear connectors to output 5.1, 4.1 or plain stereo. The onboard nVidia Gigabit Ethernet solution is part of the chipset and comes with a software Firewall application.
Behind the slide down front panel is one 5.25in drive bay. The 3.5in drive bay is occupied by a 7-in-1 card reader that actually connects internally via USB. It accepts most common memory card formats such as Compact Flash Type I/II, SmartMedia, SD, MMC and Memory Stick/Memory Stick Pro. This is also the first iDEQ that I have seen with the space to support two hard drives and these can be either SATA or EIDE drives.
As with the previous iDEQ models we have seen, this one has most of the cabling pre-routed, although if you want to use SATA drives you have to remove the EIDE cable in favour of the SATA cables. A slight disappointment is that the 210P only ships with a single SATA data cable, as special angled SATA connectors are used due to the tight space inside the chassis. However, there are two SATA power connectors, so a second drive can be used as long as you can source the appropriate cable.