While Shuttle pioneered the Small Form Factor computer, some of Shuttle’s competitors have been making real efforts to stand out from the SFF crowd. Soltek is one of those companies, and we were pleased to take a look at their latest offering — the Qbic EQ3401M. Soltek seems to have a thing with mirrored fronts, so they have extended this design from their earlier Qbic series. However, the big news with this new small Soltek is the expansion capability. Soltek managed to get two 5-1/4" bays in the EQ3401M, instead of the single 5-1/4" bay that we see on competitor’s systems.

While the Soltek is about the same depth and width as the Biostar and Shuttle, you can see that the extra bay makes it a bit taller. As we take a closer look at Soltek’s new Qbic EQ3 series, we also found a number of other innovations. It is clear since our last look at Soltek in the March SFF Roundup that Soltek has listened to the comments about their SFF and made many improvements.

The Soltek, like the Shuttle and Biostar we recently reviewed, is based on the latest Intel 800FSB Dual-Channel 865 chipset. The Qbic EQ3401M uses the onboard graphics of the G version of the 865, but also has an 8X AGP slot for graphics expansion. Soltek supports any current 800FSB C Series Intel processor, as well as earlier 533 and 400FSB socket 478 CPUs. Add to that 8 USB 2.0 ports, 3 Firewire, Serial ATA, a large 250Watt Power Supply (by SFF standards) and 5.1 audio, and you have the makings of a formidable SFF competitor.

 System Specifications
   Soltek Qbic EQ3401M  Biostar iDEQ 200T  Shuttle SB65G2
Expansion Bays (5.25"/3.5"/Hidden) 2/1/1 1/1/1 1/1/1
Front USB Ports 2 2 2
Rear USB Ports 4 2 4
Internal USB Ports 2 4 2
Front Firewire Ports 1 Standard 1 Standard 1 Mini
Rear Firewire Ports 2 Standard 1 Standard 1 Standard
On-Board Parallel Port Internal Header Internal Header Internal Header
On-Board Game Port None Internal Header None
On-Board Serial Ports 2 Rear 2 — One Rear & One Internal Header 2 Rear
Front Audio Jacks 2 — Mini Mic & Line-In 2 — Mini Mic & Heaphone 3 Mini
Rear Audio Jacks 3 Mini 3 Mini 3 Mini
SPDIF One — FrontOptical Out Two: Rear Optical Out & Front Optical In Two: Rear Optical SPDIF In & Out
Number of Fans (including CPU/chipset) 2 2 1
Power Supply 250W Enhance 200W Enhance 220W Enhance

Soltek Qbic EQ3401M: Qbic EQ3 Chassis
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  • ducsauce - Saturday, January 24, 2004 - link

    Does anyone know whether this would accomodate the upcoming Prescott? I have one that's been sitting around for months. I've been waiting for the new 90nm procs but wonder whether it'll be compatible.

  • Anonymous User - Friday, October 17, 2003 - link

    www.newegg.com carry it, but not in stock till oct 31,
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, October 15, 2003 - link

    U. S Suppliers please??
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, October 7, 2003 - link

    2 5.25" bays? woohoo - this means that I can now get my 4 drive raid 10 array in one :)

    What do you lot think? 2 drives in the 5.25s, one in the floppy 3.5 and one normal drive bay. The raid card in the pci slot, a Radeon 9700 pro in the agp and a DVDRW/CDRW combo in an external case on the USB2.

    Lan is already in, sound too - what else do i need? (a P4 2.4c and a pair of geil platinums)

    My only reservation is the power supply - I know for a fact that (using an extenal meter that measures power drain) my rig pulls 220W when running 3dmark2001 and copying 2 files simultaniously and the only real difference is an SB live and my p4 is a 2.4b. Im just not sure that even 250w will be enough.
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, October 7, 2003 - link

    I still would get the Shuttle SB65G2 or SB75G2 , who cares about quiet? I need colling and performance. What y'all think?
  • Anonymous User - Monday, October 6, 2003 - link

    Put anything next to an 800W amp in a cramped stereo rack and you will have cooling problems.
  • Anonymous User - Monday, October 6, 2003 - link

    I agree. Could we have some temp. readings of the case and of the rear exhaust. I currently have an older Shuttle SV25 and the case gets really hot at times. I already burned out one powersupply. I am mostly concerned about temperature since I use these SFFs as stero components along with the rest of my stero equipment. Put a little computer next to a 800W amplifier in a cramped stero rack and you will have cooling problems.
  • Anonymous User - Monday, October 6, 2003 - link

    Apple introduced the Cube back in July 2000, if I recall correctly. But then again, the Next Cube came out long before that (Oct. 1988!). It was a fairly big cube, though. Of course, if you go really far back, things like the Sinclair were, um, small, too.

    Anyway, it seems like the Shuttle, Biostar and Soltek (that were recently reviewed) are all good PCs. Praising the Soltek for having more capacity is a little odd, though, since I thought the whole point is for these to be small.

    I'm shopping for a new system right now and have gone back and forth between mid tower, laptop, and SFF, and between Shuttle, Biostar, and Soltek. I think I've settled upon the Shuttle, though, since it's the smallest while still being full featured. (And it will take an ati 9800xt, unlike a laptop. Sweet!)
  • Anonymous User - Monday, October 6, 2003 - link

    #9 I'm no apple lover by any means but #6 is right the apple launched the Apple ICube quite a while before shuttle started making sff computers.
  • Anonymous User - Monday, October 6, 2003 - link

    #9 what do you consider to be a sff?
    i remember some macs being very small(compared to hulking pc's at the time).

    while i cant say for a FACT that they were the 'first' to make a sff, i can say that i have seen similar sff-like-macs many, many years ago.

    btw, i am not #6, i am some other person.

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