SFF Roundup, Part I: Socket 478 and 754 Systemsby Jarred Walton on February 15, 2005 2:00 PM EST
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IntroductionIt has been quite a while since we had regular SFF reviews here at AnandTech, but that's all about to change. We've been working for a few months on getting all the parts necessary for testing, and now we're ready to "re-launch" the Small Form Factor review section! Initially, we had thoughts of trying to get all the units that we currently have tested and reviewed, but that would not only take a long time to complete, but it would also make for one massive article. In order to get things out in a more digestible form and in a timelier manner, we've decided to break up our initial roundups into three groups.
This is the first part of what will be a three-part series of SFF roundups. For this installment, we're including all of the socket 478 and 754 units that we have in our possession, and the platforms should be roughly comparable in terms of features and performance. While the platforms are a little older, don't let that deter you. The newer platforms tend to be more expensive, and while performance may be higher, performance is not everything. We'll continue with a roundup of socket 939 units and finish up with socket 775, so if those platforms hold more interest for you, stay tuned.
Before we get into the actual units themselves, it is important to lay the groundwork for how these reviews will be conducted. SFF units are a bit differnt from many of the other components that we review. For a motherboard, we're generally looking at performance and features. The same goes for graphics cards and processors. Cases are a different story, as performance isn't typically a concern. What we're looking at there is ease of use, aesthetics, noise levels, cooling, expandability, and features. Not surprisingly - given that an SFF is part case, part motherboard - SFFs contain elements of both types of components. That means that we have to look at the performance and features offered, but we have to look at the overall design as well, like we would with a case. Their small size also makes them potentially useful to other markets that would not normally consider purchasing a large PC case; for example, the Home Theater PC crowd.
Recently, we did a First Contact article on the topic of who might want to look at Small Form Factor systems. If you haven't ever given the subject much thought, we suggest that you start there to get some idea where we're coming from and whether or not you would be interested in such a case. There are definitely individuals who would have issues being "forced" into a SFF system, but for most people, they offer everything that you would need.