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The following components were installed:
- AMD Sempron 64 3300+ 62W TDP, 2.0 GHz
- 1 x 1024 MB Corsair XMS PC4000 DDR SDRAM
- Western Digital Scorpio WD1200BEVS 120GB SATA notebook HDD
- LG GSA-H10A DVD±RW drive
- Microsoft Windows XP Pro SP2 fully updated
No VGA card was tested; instead, the integrated Mirage2 graphics was used.
As is the standard for our system builds, 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
Installation begins with removing the cover and the power supply so that the
motherboard is exposed. This is a simple matter of removing the appropriate
screws: Three for the cover and one more for the power supply. The power supply
then slides upwards until it disengages from the chassis. The short cables do
not allow the power supply much range and, as we didn't want to go to the trouble
of undoing the cable routing that had already been done, it was balanced precariously
out of the way between the optical drive cage and the back of the case while
the installation took place. This proved to be dangerous, as the power supply
had a habit of falling onto the motherboard when disturbed. This happened frequently
as the system often needed to be lifted or turned over to access the back side
of the chassis.
With the power supply out of the way, the motherboard is accessible, and the
CPU and RAM can be installed as in any other system. Installing the heatsink
is a matter of placing it on the CPU and securing it in place with two clips.
The process is simple and intuitive, and should be familiar to anyone who has
worked with Socket 478 before. Our only issue was that the limited space around
the CPU socket made it a little difficult to maneuver the top clip into place.
That done, the power supply can be screwed back into place. As noted, care
is needed to keep stray cables out of the heatsink fan.
Next, the drive cage is removed by undoing a single screw and pulling the cage
out on its own. The location of the screw is not obvious; we spent a couple
of confused minutes wondering why we couldn't just pull the cage out before
we realized that there was a screw holding it in place on the back side of the
case. This meant turning the whole system over to get at the screw, and we almost
dumped the power supply into the system in the process.
Once the drive cage is removed, it is quite easy to screw a drive into it,
or, in our case, use elastic cord to suspend a notebook drive. The cage goes
back in the way it came out; sliding into place on four tabs protruding from
the front panel and locking in place with a single screw.
The removable drive cage makes suspending a notebook drive child's play.
The drive cage in place.
Getting cables to the drive is not very well thought out. The T2-AE1 has only
a single IDE channel, making the use of a PATA drive less than ideal. Not only
will a PATA drive suffer a performance penalty by being on the same IDE channel
as an optical drive, but both devices will need to be on the same physical cable.
Given that the hard drive bay is located at the bottom front of the case, while
the end of the optical drive is in the top back, this is hardly a workable arrangement.
So, SATA drive is needed. But, strangely enough, the stock power supply does
not ship with any SATA power connectors. ASUS includes an IDE to SATA adapter
cable to correct the problem, but it is hardly an elegant solution. The photo
below illustrates just how inelegant it is: The stock cables leave the drive
in opposite directions.
The SATA data and power cables do not allow the cables to be routed together.
The lack of attention to cable management for SATA drives seems odd compared
to the obvious effort that went into routing the IDE cable. Although the cable
is a conventional ribbon cable, it is folded lengthwise through most of its
length. The photo below shows the impressive bit of folding that makes this
possible. (Editor's Note: Reminiscent of the work of SPCR's own cable-gami master, Ralf Hutter.) The resulting half-width cable is much easier to manage than a full
width cable, and fits nicely into the bundle of cables that runs along the top
edge of the motherboard.
A bit of cablegami to make the most fastidious neat-freak jealous.
At the other end of the cable is the optical drive, whose installation is also
quite involved because it requires removing the front bezel. Like most bezels,
it is held in place by a number of plastic tabs that lock into place
there are six in total. Each tab must be lifted individually and the bezel pulled
out to release it from the metal frame underneath. Four of the tabs are easily
accessible and can be released quite easily. However, the two tabs along the
right edge of the bezel are difficult to get at. One of them is not even visible
until the drive cage is removed.
With the bezel out of the way, installing the optical drive is matter of sliding
it into place and fixing it in place with screws. The screw holes on the left
side of the drive are inaccessible because of the pre-installed floppy drive,
and are not intended to be used. This means that one side of the drive simply
rests loosely in place. Luckily, our drive fit tightly enough in our sample
that vibration noise was no more an issue than usual, but a slight difference
in tolerances could have left us with a drive that rattled against the chassis
whenever it was spinning.
The metal latch is press-fitted: Presto, screwless expansion card installation.
Last of all are the expansion cards, which can be added even when the power
supply is in place. The photo above shows how to access the expansion slots
no screwdriver required.
Heatsink, RAM, and drive in place.
The power supply would protrude just past the center of the heatsink fan if
it was in place.
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