Setup and Installation
There are plenty of small form-factor systems with impressive specifications. It’s ease of use that separates the mediocre from exemplary, and Biostar has clearly spent some time working on the iDEQ’s interior. To begin, processor installation is extremely straight-forward; the self-contained heat sink/heat pipe mechanism takes all of two minutes to remove and reaffix using a retention mechanism instead of screws. Installing memory is similarly simple, as is adding a hard drive. The system’s IDE cables are plugged in at the factory, as are the power cables – the only job left is to connect them to the drives. Or, if you’d prefer a Serial ATA drive, unplug the primary IDE cable and use the included SATA data and power cables.
Upgrading to an add-in graphics card is a little trickier. There is plenty of room between the top edge of your graphics card (a RADEON 9700 Pro in this case) and the iDEQ’s drive carriage. However, wedging the card up, over, and down into the AGP 8x slot requires some bending. Biostar could have avoided that problem by moving the slot mere millimeters closer to the motherboard’s outside edge. Otherwise, setup is quick and painless – just be sure to abide by the detailed instruction manual
Inside of the test system
Power, Cooling, and Noise
Biostar is particularly proud of iDEQ’s thermal performance. The aluminum cooler resembles an ordinary heat sink; however, a heat pipe runs from the unit’s copper base to the top, distributing heat evenly across two sets of fins using a constant evaporation/condensation cycle. Then, an integrated fan pushes air over the cooler, simultaneously pulling air over the passively cooled IGP (Shuttle’s IGP is actively cooled, contributing to its noise output). A second fan exhausts air from the system, while a third cools the 200W power supply. Heat pads on the bottom of the iDEQ dissipate heat throughout the chassis, as previously mentioned.