The systemís small, non-intrusive design makes for a welcome sight in almost any environment. Even with its compact size, the layout of the system is such that itís generally quite comfortable to work with from a userís standpoint, in addition to being a very sturdy system. Through the course of regular use, the system fan is generally pretty quiet, although I wouldnít classify it as music studio quality. The setup is well supported by Linux, so thereís no need to use another OS if youíre working on a tight budget. If you do choose to run Windows, the tools included are great to make sure your systemís running in good condition.
The use of the Intel 845 chipset is rather disappointing to me. This was the same chipset used in the first version of the TA4, and given the processing power that this thing is capable of packing, the use of this chipset prevents it from being used as a great little multimedia system. When working with the hardware, itís particularly challenging to comfortably take the system out of the case, and even more so to put back in. The lack of Linux support from the software side of things defeats much of the promise for this unit.
Since their first release, the TA series has consistently been awarded the Taiwan Symbol of Excellence. This gives us an indication as to the quality to which they hold the TA4. Itís surprising then to note that although the system is popular in some countries (particularly France and Japan), Giga-Byte has yet to do much of a push for these systems in the US. It has set up partnerships with retailers and wholesale distributors for this PC, meaning that they are likely to start up sales in the near future, but youíre not likely to find these systems sold in many places at the moment. A cursory glance at Google for information on the TA4 revealed a good amount of sale locations in France and Japan, but I was unable to find either an American or Canadian site where I could buy the unit. Thatís pretty sad, considering that this unit is the perfect solution for those who need a computer thatís both generally quiet and compact, such as a customer relations management center, point of sale system, someone needing a thin client solution, or someone building a small Beowulf cluster.
The system doesnít offer much in the way of graphics power, so expect to get wiped out a few times if playing Unreal Tournament against someone with a better video card. If youíre using Photoshop, then good luck; with enough RAM and a good processor, the lack of graphics abilities can be somewhat compensated for. But donít expect to use this thing for any sort of intensive Ė or, for that matter, even relatively light Ė 3D modeling. If you need a small, non-intrusive system for regular day to day business use, surfing the internet, and maybe watching a few movies, and you're willing to do a little tweaking, then this is by all means a great choice for you.
Weíd like to thank Giga-Byte Technologies for sending us this unit for review. Iíd also like to say special thanks to Dev Hardware contributor DMOS for his help in writing this (my first!) system review. If you have any comments regarding the article, feel free to drop me a line, or better yet, come join us in the Dev Hardware forums. If none of those tickle your fancy, then by all means, feel free to drop by our front page or news page for more great information.
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