Summary

Our Score

8/10

Review Price free/subscription

Biostar iDEQ 200A Small Form Factor Barebone System

Our third run in with the Biostar iDEQ comes in the shape of the 200A. The last two iDEQs we looked at were AMD based, but this one supports Intel Pentium 4 chips. However, the motherboard is not based on a chipset from Intel or even VIA or SiS, but rather ATi. The chipset of choice is the IGP 9100, which features superior integrated graphics compared to all of the competing solutions.

The chassis of the iDEQ 200A is of the same design as the ones previously reviewed and it shares the same aluminium finish with the iDEQ 200N. The internal design is up to Biostar’s usual high standard, and other small form factor manufacturers could learn a lot from the iDEQ. The motherboard design is however somewhat different, but since this is the first Pentium 4 iDEQ we’ve seen, that’s not overly surprising.

General motherboard layout is uncluttered and it’s easy to fit everything into the case. The only small caveat was that the GeForce FX5900XT graphics card that we use for testing purposes was a bit awkward to get in place due to its size, but it wasn’t impossible to fit. This is a fact of life with small form factor systems, but Biostar has made an effort to make it as easy as possible.

One advantage of Biostar’s decision to place the AGP slot behind the PCI slot is that it is possible to fit cards with double rear brackets such as the high-end nVidia boards. The downside is that this makes it a little bit more awkward to fit a normal graphics card as you have to get it past the PCI slot.

As with the previously reviewed models the 200A offers easy installation of the hard drive and memory and there is very little that needs to be fitted to the motherboard. All the IDE and power cables are pre-routed, but if you intend to use an S-ATA drive you’ll have to fit the cable yourself. That said, it is easy to route this in a tidy manner around the front of the case, without adding any clutter. The VIA S-ATA controller allows for RAID configurations, so if you’re willing to sacrifice the floppy drive bay, you could run a RAID 0 or 1 configuration with two S-ATA hard drives.

The most noticeable change is that the cooler has been moved further back in the chassis, closer to the rear fan. Because of this there is no plastic ducting between it and the CPU cooler. This makes it somewhat more awkward to get the CPU cooler out, but as long as you’re careful it’s not a huge problem. The cooler itself does differ from the previous models being that it’s for a Pentium 4 chip, but it still features heatpipes that draw the heat away from the CPU and into the heatsink.

If you want a quiet PC then the iDEQ 200A has to be your ideal choice. This little box produces very little noise and the fans are controlled either through the BIOS or with a Windows application that allows you to change the fan speeds as required.

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