Thursday, February 09, 2006

ASUS Pundit P2-AE2 slim barebone

ASUS Pundit P2-AE2
Slim form factor barebone for AMD socket 754 with an external power supply.

The Pundit P2-AE2 is a moderately priced and very slim barebone using the VIA K8M800 chipset. ASUS previously released other versions of the Pundit, however this is the first time with AMD socket 754 support and an external power supply; both strong pluses for making a very quiet computer. AMD's s754 Sempron processors run very cool and consumes low power, meaning there is less need for loud fans to keep the system running at acceptable temperatures. The external power supply means there is no power supply fan, often one of the loudest components inside a small form factor PC. Moving out the power supply also allows the case size to be reduced, but at the same time this can restrict airflow and make the system more difficult to cool quietly.

With basically no internal expandability, not even a PCI slot, it would seem this barebone is targeted more at the budget user, for low-powered home/office use. Firewire maybe the only nice extra not usually found on a budget board; there is no DVI, SPDIF, HD-Audio, or video-out making this an unlikely candidate for a HTPC. Serial and Parellel ports are also missing, although that is quite understandable as use for such connections are gradually fading out.
That being said however, the system in my opinion is pretty good value if you are looking for a basic and quiet system for the office or maybe a low powered home server. The system will even happily playback H.264 video at 480p which I am embarassed to say my current HTPC has trouble with (XPM2200+ Nforce2 system).
The price I paid was around US$220 for the barebone, but this included a slim DVD/RW which bought seperately would cost more than $80. Adding a Sempron 3000+ (Cool'n'Quiet enabled) CPU, 1GB RAM, and a 40GB Samsung notebook HDD the total system cost is around $480 (excluding monitor and OS). Although not cheap for a budget PC, when you consider this is a SFF PC it's actually a pretty good deal.

The quality of the chassis is very similar to previous Pundits. Not as refined or solid feel as the AOpen or Shuttle SFFs, however still decent and not something I would call cheap. With the open top, this was one of the easiest PC installations ever, not much different from installing onto an open motherboard maybe only the heatsink requiring a little more care. Excluding the time to take photos, the total hardware installation took less than 10 minutes.System integrators will love the ease of setup.

Using a quiet notebook HDD, the two fans become the only source of audible noise in the system. The fans are automatically controlled by the motherboard to slow down reducing the noise, and only spin up when the system gets warm under load. Compared to most any other out-of-the-box desktop, this system is certainly quiet under light CPU use. It is slightly louder than a Mac Mini (which only has one fan and a relatively well enclosed case). Under heavy CPU load (running Prime95) however the fans do get louder, and although not to an annoying level, certainly louder than what I believe most people would accept for a "quiet" computer.

Of course if most of your PC use only involves surfing the internet, typing email, chat, Skype, playing back MP3, downloading, etc then this makes a very good out-of-the-box-quiet barebone PC.

A closer look at:

1. Cooling
2. Other Components
3. Size Compared
4. Special BIOS Features
5. For the PC Silencing Enthusiast
6. Silencing Update
7. Stealthed and Silenced

More information can about the Pundit P2-AE2 be found at the ASUS website .


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