Kloss KL-I915B SFF barebones PC

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The following components were installed:

  • Intel 520 processor (P4-2.8 Prescott, 1Mb cache, 800 MHz FSB in 775 casing), review loan from Newegg.com
  • 1 x 512 MB OCZ DDR SDRAM PC3500 Dual Channel Gold
  • Fujitsu MHT2080BH 80GB notebook HDD - nestled on soft foam in 3.5" HDD bay.
  • Microsoft Windows XP Pro SP2 fully updated

The Intel 520 processor is the same one used for the last few Socket T SFF reviews. Its TDP as rated by Intel is 84W, and its calculated Maximum Power is 100W. No VGA card was tested; instead, the integrated GMA900 graphics was used.

As is the current standard for our SFF reviews, a 2.5" notebook drive was used in order to minimize the amount of noise added to the system. The noise measurements made in this review reflect this choice; using a full 3.5" drive can be expected to add 2~3 dBA/1m in vibration and resonance, especially when hard mounted in an aluminum case such as this one.

Although we did not test the system with a full size hard drive or an optical drive, we did try installing them in order to examine ease of installation.

The double-decker design makes installation easy.

Installation was less finicky than usual for a SFF system. All components can be put in place without paying close attention to the order in which they are installed. This is due to the double-decker design; in most SFF systems, the drive cage and sometimes the power supply must be removed before the CPU can be installed. In the Kloss, the motherboard is completely exposed as soon as the case cover is removed — plenty of room to work!

One quibble is that installing the heatsink as recommended in the manual — with the heatpipe curve towards the RAM slots — made the heatsink interfere with the space reserved for the PCIe slot. Specifically, the sealed ends of the heatpipes extend past the frame of the heatsink, making it impossible to install longer VGA cards. The problem is easily solved by rotating the heatsink either 90° or 180°.

The end of the heatpipes protrude into the area needed for the VGA card.

Even with the heatsink rotated, there is not enough clearance between the VGA card and the heatsink. Although it was possible to install a test card in the PCIe slot, it came in contact with the plastic CPU duct.

Long, thick VGA cards will probably touch the CPU duct when installed.

The side access to the drive bays could make installation very difficult if the drives were installed in a conventional manner. Fortunately, Trigem designed a mounting system that can accommodate the limited amount of access to the drive bays. This system is easier to show than to describe:

Two bottom-mounted standoff screws are used to secure the drive...

...by fitting into two matching "collars". Once the drive is in position, it is locked by pressing the gray lever on the lower right.

The mounting system is quite simple and easy to use, but slightly unintuitive because it is so unconventional. It is important to install the drive in exactly the orientation illustrated in the manual — cables-in. The cables must be plugged in before the drive is installed.

The hard drive mounting system is secure — the drive can't accidentally slip out of place — but not tight. Because only two screws are used, it was quite easy to lift the far side of the drive a few millimeters off of the bay floor. This could lead to unwanted vibration noise, especially if a high vibration drive is installed.

Two standoff screws hold the optical drive in the correct position, while a special bracket locks it in place.

These are the only points where the optical drive is fastened to the chassis.

The optical drive is mounted similarly to the hard drive, although the locking method is different. As with the hard drive, two bottom-mounted screws are used to correctly position the drive. Before the drive is mounted, a bracket is loosely attached to the side of the drive using standoff screws. This allows the the bracket to slide freely up and down. Once the drive is in position, it is locked in place by pressing the bracket into the drive bay.

This mounting method does not allow the exact position of the drive to be fine-tuned as it can be in a good screw mounting system. This is probably why the drive eject is done through the IDE bus rather than the eject button; anyone who has ever installed a "stealthed" drive knows how crucial the exact position of the drive is to making the drive function properly.

Like the hard drive, the optical bay is not held tightly in place, although the fit does seem to be a little better. The ramification for noise is the same: Vibration noise may be a more significant factor than usual.

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