ASUS' Pundit P1-P5945G is a barebones PC that can be configured to a customer's liking. The system itself comes fitted with a motherboard, a CPU heat sink, a power supply and a memory card reader, but customers need to furnish it with the CPU, memory, hard drive and optical drive of their choosing.
- Small form factor, quiet operation
- Graphics can't be upgraded, design is a little awkward
The design could be improved, but for businesses, or home users looking for a small form-factor PC, the Pundit is worth considering.
Price$ 299.00 (AUD)
The Pundit is an Intel-based system that uses the older 945G chipset. This chipset has integrated graphics, which gives the P1 paltry 3-D graphics performance for applications such as Microsoft Vista's Aero interface, but it's also adequate for running business applications and video. The LGA775 CPU socket can support Core 2 Duo and Pentium D CPUs, so dual-core computing is a possibility, and the motherboard's two memory slots support a maximum capacity of 2GB DDR2 memory (2 x 1GB modules).
The unit itself is compact and can be situated either flat on a desk, or vertically (using the supplied base attachment), but it has an annoying one-piece cover that can be awkward to put back on. Instead, we would have preferred a removable access panel for the top.
Only one hard drive and one optical drive can be installed, and they both reside in the same drive cage, which needs to be removed so that the drives can be installed. We'd prefer something a little easier to access, such as a tool-less, hinged drive bay. The CPU heat sink is held to the motherboard using screws, instead of clips, and is easy to install, while the two memory slots are also easy to access. However, the drive cage does need to be removed in order for a CPU to be installed.
Cabling can be messy in small systems, and while the drive cables in this system reside close to the power supply's fan, there is plenty of space for the CPU, northbridge chipset and memory modules to breath. ASUS' Q-Fan technology helps keep the CPU fan speed down, which results in a quiet-running system.
For expansion, two full-size PCI slots are available, using the supplied riser board. USB 2.0 ports, PS/2 ports and a FireWire port adorn the unit, and it also has a memory card reader on its front panel. A gigabit Ethernet connection is present, and the unit supports up to 8-channel surround sound output.
We used a Pentium 4 3.6GHz CPU, 2 x 512MB 533MHz memory modules, a Pioneer DVR-A11XLR DVD burner and a 250GB Seagate SATA hard drive to test the unit under Windows Vista Ultimate. Its Vista rating wasn't high due to the integrated graphics; it received a Windows Vista Experience rating of 3.0. The Pundit is Vista Premium certified and under Vista, the machine's audio, graphics, networking, memory card slots and USB ports all worked straight out of the box.
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