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Biostar's iDEQ 200P mini-barebones system

iDEQ, uDEQ, we all DEQ for iDEQ

Manufacturer Biostar
Model iDEQ 200P
Price (Street) $280
Availability Now

BIOSTAR'S ENTRY INTO THE small form factor sweepstakes, the iDEQ line, brings some much-needed fresh air to the SFF scene. I've been playing with the iDEQ 200P, Biostar's Athlon 64 model, for quite some time now—longer than Biostar would like, no doubt, without getting this review out of the door. Still, the first moments I cracked its box open and started poking around inside the 200P are still emblazoned in my mind as if they were earlier today. For starters, this little box is a looker, with a brushed black finish and a gorgeous front face, like so:

She's a looker, she is

Note the sliding drive bay cover and the neatly recessed reset button. Very nice. Biostar is gunning for the Shuttle XPC line, and the company is clearly playing for keeps. Pull off the iDEQ's side cover, you'll find a design influenced by a bundle of new ideas, from a transverse-mounted, sliding 3.5" hard drive tray to an AGP slot arrangement that will swallow a massive GeForce FX 5900 Ultra card. The iDEQ 200P also has much neater cable routing than the typical XPC and more open interior space. My initial impressions were firm: if Biostar has executed this concept well, there's a new SFF sheriff in town.

The specs
On paper, the iDEQ 200P has the goods needed to become a state-of-the-art desktop system or a killer home-theater PC (HTPC). Have a gander at the basics.

CPU support Socket 754-based AMD Athlon 64 processors
Chipset NVIDIA nForce3 150
North bridge NVIDIA nForce3 150
South bridge NVIDIA nForce3 150
Interconnect HyperTransport (600MB/s)
Expansion slots 1 32-bit/33MHz PCI
1 4X/8X AGP
Memory 2 184-pin DIMM sockets
Maximum of 2GB of DDR200/266/333/400 SDRAM
Storage I/O 1 floppy disk
2 channels ATA/133
2 Serial ATA 150 ports with RAID 0, 1, 0+1 via VIA VT6420 controller
Audio 6-channel audio via nForce3 AC97 and RealTek ALC655 codec
Ports 1 PS/2 keyboard
1 PS/2 mouse
2 serial
4 USB 2.0 (2 front, 2 rear)
2 IEEE 1394 (1 front, 1 rear) via VIA VT6307 controller
1 RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet via Realtek RTL8110S MAC/PHY transceiver

2 audio line out/front out (1 front, 1 rear)
1 rear out
1 bass/center out
1 optical SPDIF in (front)
1 optical SPDIF out
1 mic in (front)

BIOS Award
HyperTransport speeds 200-250MHz in 1MHz increments
Monitoring Voltage, fan status, and temperature monitoring

The 200P supports all the latest gizmos and doohickeys, including Gigabit Ethernet, Serial ATA RAID, digital optical audio, and the Athlon 64 processor. Thanks to its single-chip nForce3 150 core logic and HyperTransport communications, the K8NBP motherboard ought to have a clean layout, even with its diminutive footprint and healthy complement of features. Let's have a closer look at the box and see what we find.