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Functionality in Detail

The barebone is quite spacious despite its miniature dimensions. There’s room enough for all the necessary components. The employed ASUS P4P8T mainboard is an excellent foundation for a high-performance and yet affordable computer.

ASUS P4P8T mainboard is an example of a competent implementation
of the barebone concept

The Intel 865G chipset in conjunction with the ICH5R South Bridge is highly functional:

  • Socket 478 processors are supported (up to the Intel Pentium 4 3.4GHz on the Prescott core) with 800/533/400MHz FSB;
  • The integrated graphics core Intel Extreme Graphics;
  • The dual-channel memory controller supports up to 2GB of DDR400/333/266 SDRAM;
  • Six USB 2.0 ports;
  • Two FireWire ports;
  • One AGP 8x and one PCI slot;
  • Integrated six-channel sound (on the AC’97 AD1888 codec) with an optical SPDIF output;
  • An integrated Fast Ethernet (10/100Mbps) controller (Realtek RTL8100C);
  • Two UDMA-100 channels;
  • Two SerialATA ports.

This functionality is complemented by the card-reader that supports memory cards of the following formats: Compact Flash Type I/II, Microdrive, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, Secure Digital, MultiMedia Card, Smart Media Card.

The case of the barebone allows installing one hard drive and one optical drive. That’s enough for building a computer that would be no worse than its full-size counterparts in typical applications. Another available 3.25” bay is already occupied by the card-reader, and you can’t replace it with, for example, another hard drive because the drive would block the AGP and PCI slots.

The miniature power supply ASUS SL-22A feeds the mainboard as well as the rest of the installed devices.

This is a small but sturdy power supply

We should acknowledge that the size restrictions didn’t tell negatively on the quality of the power supply. The declared currents are quite high, the fan is quiet and there’s even a PFC throttle inside! This PSU seems to be a well-designed and conscientiously assembled device – reliable, powerful and quiet at work. The SL-22A surpasses many full-size units in such parameters as max currents on the power rails or effective total wattage. The PSU offers four power connectors – for the optical and hard drives and, for example, for a powerful graphics card. The manufacturer took care the wires didn’t hinder the assembly of the system – the plaits of the power lines are fastened to the sides of the case with plastic clips. These clips are attached to the walls with stickers and you shouldn’t tear them off because they won’t stick back after that.

Next, here’s the cooler for the central processor:

This small but efficient cooler is most appropriate
for a miniature system case

This seemingly unpretentious device has a few most appealing features: a massive copper bar in its foundation, aluminum ribs of average thickness, and two heat pipes that facilitate heat transfer from the CPU to the top part of the ribs for the heat to be evenly distributed in the heatsink. This classic and somewhat dull design with a rather small heat dissipation area and a not-quite-well-polished sole doesn’t impress at first, but the cooler did very well in practice (we’ll discuss the thermal characteristics of the barebone shortly). It is rather quiet but can cool almost any CPU this barebone permits to install. The heatsink is being blown at by a fan of ASUS’s own manufacture, known by the Crux P4 MM7/AM7 cooler series. The fan is rather noisy at its maximum speed, but the mainboard’s fan control system works well and the fan rotates at its highest speed only when the CPU is fully loaded with work, which is not a frequent event for an ordinary home PC.

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