Puget Systems Test Bench EATX V1 DIY Kit

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In the lab, we place our temporary systems on basic wood and screws contraptions that do little to keep the components in place. They're not at all secure to transport but the transient nature of the hardware used in our work demands something where components can be swapped out at the drop of the hat. While Puget System's solution is an obvious upgrade from this, for our purposes, it's only functional benefit is the fan mount at the back which can come in handy when testing enclosed liquid CPU coolers on an open test bed. The Test Bench Kit is not targeted at us however, but to home enthusiasts that probably don't switch things in and out on a daily basis. For this audience it makes more sense to have a more permanent mounting solution, we just wish they could have found a happy medium in this regard.

Assembling the platform itself is not complicated but it is an exercise in tedium. It takes 25 bolts and accompanying nuts to put together, then another 12 screws to attach the black I/O panel, which incidentally clashes with the acrylic, tarnishing its otherwise clean aesthetics. Putting together a system is more convenient than the bench itself, but a tool-less assembly system would have made for a much more pleasant experience. For US$175, at the very least, they could've included some thumbscrews. The motherboard can be "secured" without screws but the included pegs are too few to provide anything more than tenuous immobilization of a full-sized board.

For its size, one would also expect a proper 3.5 inch drive mounting option. It's a glaring omission, especially considering the ample room underneath the motherboard tray. You can of course, simply place a 3.5 inch drive on top of, or next to, the optical drive, but it's a sloppy arrangement considering how everything else is secured. A slab of wood would do just as well if were simply going to lay components down willy-nilly. Enthusiasts that experiment with multiple GPU configurations may also be disappointed as such setups often require more than seven expansion slots.

Ultimately, functionality is not what will sell this product though. Test benches can only do so much — they are supposed to be basic barebones structures, rather than fanciful assemblies of acrylic panels. It's obvious from the get-go that the Test Bench Kit is a luxury, a piece of US$175 bling for hobbyists to admire and show off, rather than a practical tool for making DIY computing more convenient than a typical test bench. For this demographic it's probably enough that the bench is well-built, performs its function adequately, and looks great doing it.

Our thanks to Puget Systems for the Test Bench EATX V1 DIY Kit sample.

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