I’ve been wanting to downsize my mid-tower PC to a small form-factor (SFF) PC for a while and yesterday I finally did it. I was over at the local computer shop, Central Computer, and I saw that they were selling their last open-box Asus S-presso S1-P111 Deluxe (the one with the TV tuner) for $280. Having already read a couple of positive reviews about it online, I took the plunge and took it home with me.
The nice thing about the S-presso for me was that it is a Socket 478, so I could reuse my Pentium 4 (Northwood) 1.8A, my 512 MB of DDR 266 RAM, my hard drive, and a CD writer. I didn’t need to buy anything besides the S-presso – I could just move everything over from my old PC. At the same time, the new motherboard gives me more upgrade options if I so choose later, I now have Serial ATA, AGP 8X, and the ability to use Pentium 4 Prescotts (800 MHz FSB) up to 3.7 GHz and up to 2 GB of DDR 400 SDRAM.
It took me about 2 hours to get everything transferred over and working to my satisfaction. The case hinges open nicely and it’s cramped in there, but workable. I started by removing the power supply which frees up more room when installing the CPU and cooler. The cooler is easy to install, secured by 4 screws through springs, although you have to push down somewhat hard while screwing the thing down. Then I put in the hard drive and CD writer – you just put a few screws into the bare drive and then slide it into latching mechanisms that grab the drives and hold them in place. Lastly, I put in a stick of DDR.
Fired her up and it booted just fine although I had to grab the CD and install video card drivers and a few other goodies.
It’s running nicely now, albeit a couple of problems.
- The CPU and chassis fans are running fine – I can monitor them with the Asus Probe software, but it’s warning me that the power supply fan is at 0 RPM. I opened up the unit and checked and the power supply fan is running. So either the unit has a bad RPM sensor or maybe it doesn’t have any sensor? (although curious that the included software would default to showing power supply fan RPM if that is the case). I checked the various motherboard cable connections and everything looks in order.
- I can’t upgrade the BIOS. It comes with a Windows BIOS upgrade utility, but that doesn’t work because Asus misidentified the board name so the program refuses to overwrite the BIOS for one board with the BIOS for another board – even though it is the correct BIOS (it’s just that the old BIOS was named incorrectly). There are two other options for upgrading the BIOS – from the BIOS itself or from DOS, but both require using a floppy. The unit however has no floppy drive or even a floppy controller for that matter, so I need to get my hands on a USB floppy drive and hope that it can detect and use that. Update: I have figured out how to update the BIOS, as described here.
All in all, it’s a pretty nice machine and I love how compact it is.