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Abit DigiDice Small Form Factor Barebone System
It’s true that looks aren’t everything, but most people would rather have a stylish PC than not these days. It’s partly because of this new style conscious PC buyer that small form factor systems have become so popular, but unfortunately the DigiDice from Abit isn’t stylish, and isn’t that small either. Unfortunately the DigiDice looks more like a small microwave oven than a PC. But, it has to be said, looks are subjective, and maybe you’ll find it more aesthetically pleasing than the TrustedReviews team did.
The motherboard inside the DigiDice is based on the Intel 865G chipset and the standard ICH5 without S-ATA RAID. There are two IDE connectors, but no floppy drive connector. The lack of floppy drive shouldn’t be too problematic, but could cause problems during system installation and possibly if you use some kind of imaging software for backups. The motherboard supports dual channel DDR memory and will accomodate up to 2GB.
Around the back are two PS/2 ports for keyboard and mouse, a D-SUB connector for the integrated graphics, a set of audio connectors for the 5.1-channel sound as well as an optical S/PDIF output. There are also two USB 2.0 ports and an Ethernet port. The front of the system features a further two USB 2.0 ports, a single six-pin FireWire connector, a headphone socket and a microphone port.
This means that the DigiDice is near enough legacy free, bar the PS/2 ports, although this is nothing new for Abit as its MAX series of motherboards have taken this route in the past.
Oddly enough there are internal headers for a further four USB 2.0 connectors and a single header for a FireWire port, but no brackets are supplied to take advantage of the headers. There is however a memory card reader fitted as standard that uses up one of the USB 2.0 headers. You can use it with CompactFlash Type I/II and MicroDrives as well as Smart Media, MMC, SD, Sony Memory Stick and Sony Memory Stick Pro, which covers pretty much all the major bases.
The base specifications are similar to many other SFF systems, but Abit sadly didn’t spend as much time on design as Biostar or Shuttle. But as already mentioned, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It does however offer more internal room than most SFF systems with space for two 5.25in drives as well as two internal 3.5in drives.
But the real problem is the front of the case, which is made from quite cheap looking, thin plastic. There’s a sliding door that covers up the front drives when closed, but this doesn’t have the same quality feel as the sliding panel on the Biostar iDEQ SFF boxes. It’s this big sliding door, together with the big jog dial and the LCD display that really makes the DigiDice look a kitchen appliance. One minor problem here is that the two 5.25in drive bays are covered by flip down lips. These lips do hide your boring beige optical drives, but it also means that if your drive has any extra controls other than an eject button, you won’t be able to access them.
The jog dial is used to power the system on and off, but this is quite confusing. To power it on you simply push the jog-dial inwards - no problem at all. However, to power the DigiDice off, you have to press the jog-dial for four seconds or more, then release it and depress it again within seven seconds – a very bizarre and convoluted procedure for a simple function.