Review: ECS EZ-Buddie SFF PC

Complete|Mobile Systems
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EZ-Watcher: A Gas Pedal for your PC!

This is one of the most unusual aspects of the EZ-Buddie. EZ-Watcher allows you to adjust the CPU operating speed by simply twisting a dial on the front panel. A colorful bar and numeric display shows the clock speed. (Note: The color of the case in the photo below is due to ambient indoor lighting; the aluminum simply reflects the color balance of available light.)

It's gimmicky, but it is a neat gimmick. It allows a range of clock speeds, from about -14% underclock to +14% overclock. One assumes this is some kind of hardware access to the system bus speed, as we all know that P4s are clock multiplier locked. Naturally, the range of speeds will depend on the particular CPU you have, but even hardware veterans will have to admit this is a neat trick. No messing in the BIOS or booting on/off to change clock speeds, and it's completely independent of the OS.

Other Nifty Things

The EZ-Buddie has a plethora of inputs and outputs, many of which are conveniently accessed on the front panel. The bottom door on the front panel of the main case flips up to show some niceties, a 6-in-1 card reader for Secure Digital / Multi Media Cards, Compact Flash / Micro Drive, Memory Sticks and Smart Media.

A side door on the bottom portion of the black strip on the right opens to reveal as USB 2.0 , audio and IEEE1394 jacks.

The Optical Drive cover on the left is spring loaded. The left silver button on the front panel somehow triggers the open / close button, which pushes open the spring loaded door. It works nicely.

The built-in VGA is a really nice feature from the point of view of minimizing heat inside the box, as well as for low cost. The AGP slot gives one the option of going for a performance card if desired. The back panel in/out panel also shows the LAN and 4 USB connectors.

Internals

Much of this portion is in self-explanatory photographs.

The hard drive mounts on this subassembly below when then slides in before being locked down with a screw. The mechanism is a bit sticky and the fit is not great, but it works. The niche on this side of the HDD is where the optical drive goes, sideways, as shown further below.

A sping-loaded door hides the real facia of the optical drive. As mentioned before, the button directly below the spring-loaded door operates the optical drawer mechanism.

Below is shown the right side of the case. The trace-side of the motherboard can be seen through the 2 center holes in the motherboard tray, which is removable. Note that the motherboard is equipped with a 4-bolt resin-plastic reinforcing plate beneath the CPU socket. It's a nice touch, as not only does the reinforcing plate provide better mechanical support for the weight of the heatsink, but it also prevents the bottom of the motherboard from shorting against the tray.



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