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The chassis is designed to take nothing but standard components – including the motherboard. It will take any MicroATX motherboard and it fits snugly with access to all the available expansion slots. There are two 3.5in bays and two 5.25in bays.
As you can see above, not the neatest of builds but in my defence I found it rather fiddly to build the PC is such a small space. In hind sight, a modular power supply would have been a better idea as very few of the extra cables were needed. Luckily airflow wasn’t much of an issue due to the huge number of grills and the supplied fans.
At the heart of any good PC, is a good motherboard. In this case, we used the Asus N4L-VM DH. This 945 chipset motherboard supports Core Duo/Solo processors, including the not yet released “Merom” processor. It is also fully Viiv compliant, which is perfect for a Media PC.
As you can see above, we have an x16 PCI-Express graphics slot, two PCI slots and a x1 PCI-Express slot. There are three internal SATA connections, as well as an external SATA connection. A single IDE channel is useful if you happen to be using any legacy IDE hardware.
As well as on the onboard graphics, which we chose not to use, there is 8-channel HD audio thanks to a Realtek chip.
The BIOS has some overclocking options which I had limited success with. On other boards we’ve had this same processor above 3GHz, but with this we were topping out at around 2.4GHz – so don’t expect much more than a mild overclock from it. It did recover well from our failed overclocking attempts though, without needing to reset the CMOS. You can adjust the DDR2 voltage and timings, so if you happen to have some slower DDR2 memory there is a fairly good chance you’ll be able to get it running at a better speed. There are only two DIMM slots though, so you want to get as much memory in as possible first time, as upgrading will be tricky.
Supplied with the board is a cooler for use with the Core Duo processor. This is very small and naturally thermally controlled. It’s barely audible and when used in conjunction with SpeedStep, is often not spinning at all.