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Soltek Qbic EQ3401M
By Vijay Anand
Category : Barebone/SFF
Published by Jimmy Tang on Friday, 17th October, 2003
Rating : 4.5 out of 5 stars  

The Qbic EQ3401M - Exterior

Some of you may be quite content with metallic or plastic façade finishes for your systems, but another group of users are pretty much in love with mirror-finished SFF systems first made by Soldam in their Pandora Figaro series. Thank goodness there are more affordable and easily obtainable alternatives with Soltek’s own SFF solutions that we are accustomed since we reviewed the Qbic EQ3701M. Those who thought the Qbic EQ3701M looked nice, the EQ3401M has refined that design even further. Like its predecessors, the EQ3401M maintains the ability to house dual 5.25” and dual 3.5” drives.

Now that’s a handsome SFF.

An important design change over the older Qbic series was that you no longer have to forego the mirror-front drive bay covers when fixing optical drives. On the EQ3401M, when you have an optical drive installed and you eject the tray, the drive bay cover swings open. This preserves the uniform look of the entire SFF and relieves the user from spray-painting their drives to match the system color.

Note the dual optical drive bays with buttons to eject the drive tray.

The drive bay cover swings open for optical drives and retains the uniform mirror front when closed.

Soltek found a neat solution for optical drives, but what about floppy drives and ZIP drives? Right below the dual optical drive bays, there is one bay catered to such drives:-

The Floppy drive bay revealed.

Although it is designed to house external facing 3.5” drives, this bay can also accommodate a secondary hard drive as well.

The Qbic E3401M maintained a very clean and neat outlook because only the power/reset buttons and the HDD-LED indicator were placed externally, while all connectivity options were hidden behind another flap. Just a side note for those detail-freaks; that unlike the mirror-front drive bay covers, all buttons on the front façade are not prone to fingerprints.

Power / Reset buttons and a HDD-LED indicator are the only major items on the front face of the EQ3401M.

The bottom-most panel opens to reveal easy access to Optical-out, Mic-in, Line-out, 2 x USB 2.0 ports and a Firewire port.

Thus far, we have been ogling at the front panel of the system, so let us show you the other connectivity features packed on the system rear:-

Here’s a close-up.

Here’s the list of those ports found on the system rear:-

  • 1x VGA output ports
  • 2x Serial port
  • 2x Firewire ports (IEEE 1394)
  • 4x USB 2.0 ports
  • 1x PS2 (mouse)
  • 1x PS2 (keyboard)
  • 1x Center/Bass speaker output
  • 1x Front Left / Right speaker output
  • 1x Rear Left / Right speaker output
  • 1x RJ45 LAN port

    Taking into account the forward and rear-facing ports, this SFF has a total of six USB 2.0 ports which is certainly more than any other SFF systems encountered so far (definitely rivals full fledged motherboards). In terms of the variety of connectivity options offered, it is in-line with our high-expectations for top-end SFF systems. Besides design and features, ventilation is another key-aspect of an SFF, which the EQ3401M has plenty.

    The front base has air-intake vents…

    … and at the sides of the SFF too.

    At the rear, there’s a dedicated exhaust port for the system fan which pulls all the hot air and throws it out of the system. The good part about it is its strategic placement next to the CPU for maximum impact.
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