Asus P2-M3A3200 HTPC ReviewZertz - November 6, 2008
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It is clear just by a glance that hardware is crowded inside this small case. Not only that, but it is quite bit shorter than a mid tower, it's also about half the width and not nearly as tall. Even though it's small, the same basic components have to fit, so custom board designs are very often used. For this one, Asus came up with a very oddly shaped motherboard, somewhat like a tilted "L". As you can see, there is not much space to spare in there, if at all. Taking the processor's heatsink off without removing the drive cage proved to be quite an accomplishment. Fortunately, it's not something that's usually done often on that type of enclosure. Not that there is much to route, but Asus tie wrapped their cables making for a neat wiring job so none are hanging all over the place. The other side doesn't really have anything in particular to show off.
Closing in up and personal, one will quickly notice the regular capacitors used by Asus, which isn't such a bad thing really since this board won't and can't be overclocked and even those will outlast the board's useful life span. In the northeastern corner stands the northbridge's little aluminum heatsink, which is tightly held in place by flexible metal hooks, while also making it easy to remove. Rotating the camera upwards reveals the PCI-Express riser card, which sits in a full length slot, but only gives access to two 1x slots. Thanks to a well thought design, full height, but short and thin, cards can be installed, such as the optional HD3450 offered by Asus, will fit. Of course, one could decide to install any sort of low profile add-in card such as a wireless network adapter.
On the higher portion of the board, a single PATA along with two SATA connectors are to be found. However, only one or two, at most, of those three will ever be used due to space constraints. In fact, the case can only welcome a single hard disk drive and an optical drive. Speaking of which, they are housed into a removable cage, a nice feature in such a tiny case. Unfortunately, they do not provide any sort of noise canceling accessories like rubber grommets - both drives are screwed on bare metal which obviously don't attenuate any sort of vibration coming from a spinning drive. Also, make sure you got some spare screws laying around because there's a grand total of four (!) included. The processor's socket, compatible with both AM2 and AM2+, is in the lower right part of the case with the dual channel memory slots directly below.
Read on for a more detailed look under the hood.