Compact computer

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 21 August, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 21 August, 2005, 12:00am

Mobile phones, PDAs and laptop computers have been shrinking, but the size of desktop computers has increased.

This is because motherboard makers have been packing even more features into their products.

If you want the performance of a desktop PC but not the size, there is the option of mini-PCs from makers such as Shuttle and IDEQ. They squeeze all the essential components of a desktop computer - including the supporting chipset, memory slots and network ports - into a customised chassis that is about one-third the size of a standard PC. The core processor, RAM, and hard disk drive are not included, but you can select (and buy) your own and assemble it yourself.

The IDEQ 300G from Taiwanese company Biostar has enhanced multimedia functions. It has support for Windows 2005 Media Centre Edition and a remote control so that you can listen to CDs and MP3s - or watch VCDs and DVDs - easily. Based on Intel's 915G chipset, the IDEQ 300G supports any Intel Pentium 4 or Celeron D processor with a 533MHz or 800MHz front side bus and comes with two DDR400 memory slots capable of holding up to 2GB of RAM memory. The IDEQ 300G also comes with a Gigabit Ethernet card that can connect to networks at 10 megabits per second (Mbps), 100 Mbps and up to 1,000 Mbps (although few commercial internet services support Gigabit speeds yet).

People who live in Hong Kong's typically tiny flats would find the small size attractive. However, it comes at a cost. Traditional motherboards with the IDEQ 300 G's features cost around $1,000 - about twice as much as the mini-PC.

All self-assembled PCs, such as the IDEQ 300G, have risks if you build them yourself.

The safer option is to go to a computer mall and get a shop to do it for you. Be sure to get a warranty and support agreement.


small size; multimedia support; remote control


more expensive than regular motherboards