Recently there is a growing trend among the enthusiast community to build not only a very small PC, but one that is powerful enough to use in daily applications or even carry to your favorite LAN Party. As it stands now, there aren't a whole lot of choices out there when considering a small form factor (SFF) type PC as we have here today. Shuttle comes to mind as one of the innovators in paving the way to make the small bare bones systems commonplace, but more recently, companies such as AMS are going a step further, to not only bring you a system that is aesthetically pleasing to the eye, but also just as powerful as your typical desktop system. Do they succeed in this? That is what we are going to find out here today with our review of the AMS gBOX Blue P4 Aluminum Barebone System.
AMS is the US branch office of Chyang Fun Industry. They have been in the barebone market since early 2001. Additionally, their OEM customers include shuttle, FIC, Iwill and some other well known barebone systems you can find on the market.
"American Media Systems, Inc. is a leading manufacturer of electronic enclosures for computer systems and peripheral devices. We are known as a one-stop enclosure source... offering a total solution for your enclosure needs. Our broad range of product line covers the areas of PC, data storage, RAID, server, and rackmount. We offer a full range of services such as design, engineering, tooling, and assembly with metal and plastic materials. With our factories located in Taiwan and China, we are able to fulfill the highest demand for a quick-to-market enclosure solution at competitive prices."
gBOX Blue P4. What exactly IS the gBOX Blue you might ask? Well, quite simply, it is a miniature barebone PC with all the parts you'll need to construct a great little system. Lets take a quick look at what you get.
CFI-S96 is a high-performance Intel Pentium 4 Socket 478B motherboard. The system core logic is based on Intel 82845GE Chipsets. It is integrated with NEC uPD72873GC 1394a controller and Realtek RTL8100B Ethernet controller.
DVI Adapter (AGP) Chrontel CH7010 DVI Transmitter + TV Encoder. TV-out supporting up to 1024 x 768 graphics resolutions.
XBLADE Cooling Technology The aluminum made alloy cross fins is temperature resistance and has qualities of light in weight, low noise and minimum vibration high strength and long life.
AKURA BLUE P4 CPU Cooler Ball-Bearing 12V DC Motor Fan Material: Aluminum Alloy RPM: 4800 sound level (dB): 39 air flow: 0.83 static pressure: 4.30
Aesthetics - At first glance you'll notice several innovative products that together make the AMS gBOX Blue P4. Obviously it's sexy looks are among the first noticeble aspects of the system itself with the AMS patented aluminum /acrylic construction, beautiful clear side panel and carry handle for ease of portability.
Motherboard - Being a connoisseur of motherboards, the second thing I noticed was this system actually has a REAL motherboard. There is a nice compliment of AMD based barebone systems out there right now, but those of us on the Intel side of the house are somewhat limited. And lets face it, the thought of running a VIA based Intel system did not thrill me in the least. Performance and stability issues aside, I would just assume stick with an Intel based chipset and motherboard if possible and AMS certainly delivers. What we have is a minature motherboard based on the Intel 845GE chipset which is the sister of the well known 845PE chipset except it also has Intel on-board graphics. While the majority of PC Enthusiasts out there might shudder at the thought of running any form of on-board graphics, AMS has also included an AGP port in order to install a video card of your choice should you decide to go that route. Flexibility is the key here however and the average user will find the Intel graphics provide an adequate experience for what they may be using this barebone system for. A DVI Adaptor is also included should you wish to hookup the gBOX Blue to your TV for many different applications.
Cooling - AMS has included a revolutionary cooling system called the XBLADE. While not necessarily a "new" invention, it is certainly a first for this type of application, where high performance with a minimal amount of footprint is required. The XBLADE does a great job cooling this little case and we'll touch a bit more on that later. To cool the CPU AMS has commissioned the AKURA Blue P4 CPU Cooler. A half height version of some of AKURA's larger CPU Coolers with a nice copper core and 70mm 4800RPM Blue LED cooling fan. Surprisingly, this little HSF gets the job done.
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