Monarch 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...

Monarch Hornet Pro: Chassis
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  • MichelMerlin - Monday, August 2, 2004 - link

    What I like in this SFF is its size and according ability to receive more changes than the Shuttle models, for instance big silent GC cooling systems.

    However the article (excellent otherwise) should tell IMO if the system, as delivered, is silent enough during regular activities (excluding leading edge games but including some ordinary games)

    Paris, Mon 2 Aug 2004 09:28:35 +0200
  • Bonesdad - Saturday, July 31, 2004 - link

    Who is the little guy inside the case? Does he make the wheels go round?
  • bupkus - Saturday, July 31, 2004 - link

    I like the hybrid approach between the traditional microATX and SFF as it should allow mainboard options unavailable with the SFF.
    Unfortunately, they only allow the microATX PS which usually comes with a much lower wattage.
    Just a broader comment here:
    With so much being put on the mainboard I would think fewer people really need all those PCI slots. I for one don't see my ever needing an ATX mainboard when the microATX boards provide all the slots I will need. Smart move by Monarch. I'll be looking for when the prices come down.
  • Spacecomber - Saturday, July 31, 2004 - link

    Oops, I guess you can't edit these notes. I meant to say 10,000 rpm "drives" not fans.

    While I'm at it, did you notice that this chassis has a removable motherboard tray?
  • skunkbuster - Saturday, July 31, 2004 - link

    to me it just looks kind of generic. i wish they spent some time 'revamping' the exterrior..
    can't really compare to a shuttle in that aspect..
  • Spacecomber - Saturday, July 31, 2004 - link

    Looks like this motherboard requires a custom I/O shield, which Intel didn't supply?

    Yeah, I know, I'm being pretty picky.

    Thanks for bring these barebones to my attention.

    By the way, how did the system hold up with temperatures after running some programs that would heat up the processor, video card, and hard drives? Some idle vs load temp comparisons would have been interesting. If I followed the case description properly, there are two 40mm fans in the back and an 80 mm intake fan in the front (and the P/S, of course) for cooling this system. Do the dual 10,000 rpm fans have enough room to breath? I couldn't quite picture where they are in the case from the photos.

  • Zepper - Saturday, July 31, 2004 - link

    Monarch is a sharp company - just wanted to be the first to post a comment.
    . Well written article! this type of system is not my cup of tea but monarch has plenty of others to ease that plastic out of your wallet...

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