Monarch Hornet Pro: "SFF" meets PCI Express, DDR2by Evan Lieb on July 31, 2004 12:05 AM EST
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IndexMonarch Computer has been in the systems builders business for quite a long time now. Their very own systems literature nicely summarizes their long track record in the pre-built systems market. However, by far, Monarch is known as a components provider more than a systems provider. They continue to have a very high reseller rating, currently with a lifetime rating of 9.25, just a few vendors back of the leader. And that rating doesn't fully take into account the strides Monarch has been making over the past few months to provide better service and support for their components and pre-built/barebones systems.
Moving on, the reason we are here today is to talk about Monarch's latest pre-built and barebones computer system, the Monarch Hornet Pro. To clarify, we are indeed reviewing a pre-built Hornet Pro today; but since this system also comes in a barebones flavor (without any HDDs or optical storage, processor, memory, or video) it should be known that this article doubles as a barebones review too. Obviously, as an AnandTech reader, you're probably going to be more interested in the barebones version of this system than the pre-built version, which is why we are mentioning all this in the first place.
Anyway, as you can probably guess by reading the title of this review, we are indeed reviewing one of the first SFFs available that supports Intel's LGA775 Prescott platform based on the 925X chipset, and PCI Express and DDR2 functionality as a result. This system obviously supports PCI-e 16X graphics cards and PCI-e 1X cards (1X cards are intended as the replacement for PCI cards). It also supports DDR2 speeds up to 533MHz. Perhaps one of the most important aspects of this system is that Monarch worked so closely with Intel on the Hornet Pro that they are currently the only manufacturer that supports Intel's mATX D925XBC motherboard, which at the moment is the only mATX 925X-based motherboard available on the entire market. Quite frankly, we couldn't think of a better use for a mATX motherboard than to put it in an "SFF" case. Though, if you'll notice, the Hornet Pro really isn't quite an "SFF" because of it's significantly larger dimensions. That's why we put quote marks around SFF in the title of this review. Still, the same general concept (big performance in a small package) applies to Monarch's system here.
By now you probably already have tons of questions you want answered, and we don't intend to stop you from getting them answered by babbling on. So scroll down and find what you're looking for...