Biostar keeps pace in SFF race with BTX chassis

COMPUTEX ¬ó After seeing Shuttle's new XPC models, I thought the competition would have a difficult time keeping up with all the innovations. However, Biostar is proving me wrong, showing off a robust range of revised and brand-new IDEQ systems. The existing models, like the 200P, are being replaced with tweaked and updated versions, like the nForce3 250Gb-based IDEQ 210P with a slick-looking new front face.

The most exciting developments are in Biostar's new chassis design. These new models sport HTPC features, including a front-panel display and a control logic card capable of playing music, DVDs, and the like without booting the system into Windows.

Most strikingly, Biostar has developed a very nifty hinged chassis opening mechanism, lovingly dubbed the "shark mouth."

This ingenious arrangement allows easy access into the guts of the case¬óbetter than anything I've seen in any SFF system. This new chassis is, like Shuttle's P series, based on a slightly modified version of Intel's BTX specification. Unlike Shuttle, Biostar has retained BTX's shrouded, front-to-rear cooling channel. Also, Biostar expects to deliver Athlon 64 systems based on this form factor, with the necessary accommodations. Like Biostar's current IDEQ's the new chassis can swallow a pair of 3.5" internal drives, but the external 3.5" bay has been replaced with a vertical set of flash card slots located on the left side of the unit's front face.

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