- Review Price: £146.00
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.
As with all SFF cases, expandability is limited to a few core components. The 210P has two memory slots, a single AGP and PCI slot and unusually a mini PCI slot as well. The mini PCI slot can be used for a wireless network card option, and there is a place in the rear of the case for an aerial to be mounted. Biostar will have this available as an option in the UK in about a month. There is also an internal connector for a parallel port as this doesn’t come as standard.
The CPU cooler has retained the same design as the one in the iDEQ 200A, but the socket has been moved inwards to create a gap between the cooler and the rear case fan.
Biostar seems to have covered for any eventualities and the floppy cable as well as a floppy power connector is present if you’d prefer to swap the card reader for a floppy drive. There is even a spare power connector for graphics cards that needs extra power to operate. The 250W PSU should be plenty as long as you don’t try to fit a GeForce 6800 Ultra.
The manuals have been improved and the pictures in the installation guide now come in full colour, which is very helpful especially for beginners.
The benchmarks scores are very good considering that I only had an Athlon 64 3400+ at hand. The overall SYSMark 2004 score of 179 places the iDEQ 210P among the faster Socket-754 boards we have tested. The PCMark 2004 were also quite high, but as the iDEQ 210P only supports single channel memory the memory score is lower than what you would see in a Socket-939 system.
The Biostar iDEQ 210P yet again proves that Biostar is here to stay in the SFF market. The design change to the exterior is only a minor upgrade, but the 300 series will bring around much bigger changes for those willing to wait. However, if you’re looking at getting a well built affordable SFF system the iDEQ 200P is definitely worth a look. It might not have all the latest features but at an affordable £146 it comes with everything you would expect.
The iDEQ 210P is yet another great SFF barebone from Biostar. It might not be cutting edge, but it’s none the less a good solution for anyone looking for an affordable, fast and compact PC.
”’AMD Athlon64 3400+”’
”’1GB PC3200 Crucial Ballistix memory”’
”’GeForce 6600GT graphics card”’
”’Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 hard drive”’
Score in detail
Unlike other sites, we thoroughly test every product we review. We use industry standard tests in order to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever accept money to review a product. Tell us what you think - send your emails to the Editor.