Let me start by saying this. If you’re thinking about buying a small form factor PC, get this one. You might think that it’s hasty of me to say this at the start of a review, but the Evesham e-Style II is by far the best small form factor PC I have ever had the pleasure to review.
The main reason for this is the chassis that Evesham has used, which is a barebone package from Biostar. Yes you read that correctly, even though Biostar isn’t usually associated with products of this type. The build quality is excellent and the materials used are first rate. Add to this Evesham’s knowledge of system building and it’s not hard to see why this is such a great machine.
The outside of the case is constructed from 2mm thick brushed aluminum, which adds to the overall sturdy feel. To open the case you remove the two side panels as well as a larger top panel. The internal structure is also made of aluminum, which is sometimes not rigid enough for this kind of use, but this particular case feels very solid indeed. It’s worth noting that the cable routing is excellent, as almost all the internal cabling is routed trough the chassis which makes this by far the tidiest small form factor PC I have ever encountered.
As the e-Style II is based on a barebone system the motherboard comes as part of the package. The Biostar P4SBA motherboard is based on the SiS 651 chipset and unitilises a proprietary form factor. This limits the upgrade path to 533MHz bus processors. Integrated features consist of SiS graphics, onboard 5.1-channel sound with S/PDIF in and out, front headphone and microphone connectors, two FireWire ports, four USB 2.0 ports, onboard 10/100Mbit Ethernet and a serial port. It’s worth noting that the parallel port doesn’t come as standard; it’s an option that Evesham decided not to fit. There are however internal connectors for parallel, a second serial port and a game port, if you have the correct cables. You also get single AGP and PCI slots to add some upgrade potential.
The sound is provided by a C-Media chip and the onboard Ethernet comes courtesy of Realtek. Evesham has also fitted a standard 56k V.90 PCI modem.
Rather than taking advantage of the integrated graphics, you’ll find an ATi Radeon 9200 All-in-Wonder card fitted to the AGP slot. This adds a TV-tuner as well as video in and out capabilities. The card features 128MB of memory and is passively cooled which helps keep the noise down.
A 120GB Maxtor hard disk takes care of storage, with the optical drive being a Sony DVD-ROM/CD-RW combo drive. Evesham has also fitted a 6-in-1 card reader that can be used with CompactFlash Type I/II, IBM MicroDrives, Smartmedia, Secure Digital, Multi Media cards and Sony MemoryStick. There’s no space for a floppy drive, but I never use one these days.