D.Vine D2 Quiet Media Center review
If Christmas was a DIY disappointment this year, with no Lego or Meccano in sight, then you could treat yourself to this DIY Media Center PC kit from Quiet PC. Arriving in two big boxes, it’s a palpable thrill to unpack. The larger box safely houses the attractive hi-fi style case, with everything else needed packaged neatly inside the smaller box. With all these components strewn around us, we set to work inside the case.
The first job is to install the supplied 1.7GHz Pentium M 735 into the excellent AOpen i915GMm-HFS motherboard. We then placed the motherboard in the case to plan out where the various cables from the front panel would attach. We found some of these were best routed along the chassis floor for as much under-board wiring as possible, leaving more open air space above the board for better cooling and quieter operation.
The instructions supplied are essentially good, with plenty of advice. Consulting the manual is certainly advisable for tasks such as attaching the iMON VFD (vacuum fluorescent display) screen to the case. This proved the most tricky part to fit, necessitating a pair of pliers to remove two spacer screws before attaching the longer ones that the VFD requires. Quiet PC has made a substantial modification here, connecting the iMON’s infrared circuitry to the Microsoft receiver, which then sits inside the case. This means you can use the supplied Microsoft Remote Control without needing an external box cluttering up the place. The VFD itself is able to display a whole range of information, from newsfeeds to MCE information.
The rest of the kit can be assembled using a couple of crosshead screwdrivers. Once you’ve removed the hard disk caddy, the supplied 250GB Samsung SpinPoint disk can be fitted easily and the whole thing dropped back in. We then dealt with the long iMON and Microsoft infrared receiver cables, which can both be plugged into a single USB header on the motherboard using a supplied adaptor.
The DVD writer is the last item to be fitted, sitting high in its removable caddy and providing storage space for spare PSU cables. The 400W PSU itself is described as ‘semi-silent’, as its fan rarely spins. This is the ideal arrangement, giving you silent operation with the backup of active cooling should temperatures soar. A modular PSU (with removable cables) would have been a nice finale, but it’s otherwise an excellent choice.
Once you’ve fitted the half-height backplates to the two GDI Black Gold TV tuners, you can slot them into the only two PCI slots on the motherboard. With the two sticks of 512MB PC4200 RAM fitted, the system is pretty much finished. Before fitting the lid, it’s worth checking for loose plugs and that the motherboard is set to run at the full 533MHz FSB.
Pressing the front power button should then set everything in motion – we found that it was actually necessary just to indicate whether the system was on, it’s that quiet. Going in to the BIOS reveals settings to dynamically adjust the fan, or you can use an application such as SpeedFan to strike a balance between noise and cooling; we found a setting of around 50ûC worked well.
Center Edition 2005 is easy, provided you have a flick through the Quiet PC manual. When the installer asks for the XP Professional Service Pack 2 disc, for example, the manual rightly tells you to give the installer the first installation disc instead. Also included is a CD with Update Rollup 2, though you’ll need .NET 1.1 and .NET 1.1 Service Pack 1 installed first.