- Review Price: £1149.00
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.
A pull down flap covers the drives when not in use, which adds to the good looks of the system and also keeps the fingers or curious children away from the optical drive.
I almost forgot to mention the CPU and memory, but you’ll be glad to know that the CPU is a 2.66GHz Intel Pentium 4 that goes hand in hand with two 256MB modules of PC2700 DDR SDRAM memory. An interesting point here is the CPU cooler which is a custom unit from Biostar, featuring a heatpipe. There is a low speed fan fitted as well sucking cool air through the heatsink. As the CPU is fitted towards the rear of the case, there is a second fan right behind the heatsink sucking the hot air out.
The overall hardware specifications might not be amazing, but the overall build quality and the ultra low noise level of this system just makes it something special.
Included with the e-Style II is a 17in Philips 170B4BS TFT display, which is one of the best 17in displays you can get. It has a native resolution of 1,280 x 1,024 and features both D-SUB and DVI connectors. You also get a set of Creative I-Trigue 3300 speakers. The sound isn’t amazing with these speakers but you can’t get away from the fact that they look stylish and match the e-Style II perfectly. A wireless keyboard and mouse set from Microsoft adds a quality feel to the input devices.
Windows XP Home Edition comes as standard as well as a copy of Pinnacle instant CD/DVD. Microsoft Works is bundles for office duties. It’s a shame that Works Suite isn’t bundled since it includes Word, but at the asking price of £1,098.99 including VAT there have to be some omissions.
As far as performance goes the e-Style did well in SYSmark 2002 and PCMark 2002, but not amazingly. Where it suffers however is in 3DMark 2001 and 2003 where it lags behind due to the graphics card. But unless you’re a hardcore gamer this is not really an issue.
This is the kind of machine I would not be ashamed to have in my front room or anywhere else in the house. It looks very stylish and it is virtually silent, which is amazing for a machine this small. Did I mention that you ought to buy one?
By far the best small form factor PC I have ever come across, with stylish looks and a great set of features that should appeal to anyone but the hardcore gamers.
Due to an increase in the cost of TFT panels the price of the Evesham e-style has risen to £1,149 from its original price of £1,098.99. Even with this price rise we still consider this to be a superb machine and well worth the money.
Score in detail