Table of Contents
Box and Contents
The unit itself looks very nice and is quite sturdy. Here, I hold it in my hand for perspective, just as I did with the Shuttle system. Kids, don’t try that at home! I actually took that shot after the system was complete, and nearly pulled a muscle trying to get my arm extended far enough for a clear shot! The system is defnitely a bit heavier than the Shuttle system, and that’s not too suprising considering how much more sturdy the gBox is. Each side panel comes off independently, and the paneling is a lot thicker and sturdier than that of the Shuttle system. The entire box is covered with a thick clear paneling which gives it a very nice look. I had initial fears of scratching the coat, but I ended up not having to be teribly careful. On top, there is a carrying handle, which looks to be removable with a simple hex screwdriver.
Inside, we see the Pentium4 478 socket, and the two DDR DIMM slots. To the left, we see the PCI and AGP slot…that are both obstructed by the front ports cable bundle. I’m getting my first worries of a problem here, but everything is OK so far.
Video Card Woes
Our first problem, however, was the that video card was too long, and was obstructed by the memory! Only the closer of the two memory sticks was in the way, and if it were only half a centimeter farther back, there would be no problem. I thought about simply popping out the white retention clip to solve the problem, but I didn’t like the idea of non-secured memory. Instead, we used our handy Leatherman tool (you’d be surprised how many uses that thing gets here!) to cut and file away at the clip, until a good portion of it has been removed. We still have to bend the video card a few degrees, but it works. Of course, I can write this paragraph in a few minutes, but it took us about an hour to come to this solution.
At that point, it still required a lot of coaxing to get the video card into the AGP slot, and then we were hit with problem #2 – the front port cable connector would not let the card sit all the way down into the socket. At this point, all I could do was laugh and break out the Leatherman again. A few minutes of filing, and then the video card could be seated properly.
Finally! Now we can close up the case, right? Here we hit problem #3. The video card is actually sticking out too far to allow the side panel to close properly. After a lot of adjusting of the front port cables (putting each cable between two of the heatsink fins), we are finally able to get the case shut.
It’s probably very obvious that I am very disappointed by these video card problems. If AMS is going to push so hard to bundle the unit with a GeForce4 Ti card, they had better make sure that the cards will fit! Yes, the Leadtek card has a larger heatsink than most other cards, but GeForce4 Ti cards are all very large, and I can see this being a very widespread problem. On the other hand, if you are purchasing this unit as part of a system from Puget Custom Computers, then these are all things that we take care of – you’ll never had to deal with it. We’ll just keep a nice big bottle of aspirin at the end of the assembly bench. 🙂
The last thing to note about the video card is that we experienced over-heating problems during our testing. It was only when the video card was under a long period of high load that there was a problem, but that is still not acceptable. This is definitely due to the fact that the side panel is right up against the video card.
Obviously, this Leadtek card was not a good choice for the gBox. We had an Asus GeForce4 Ti 4600 card in stock, so we put that in to see how it did. And the result? It fixed nearly every problem! The memory is still in the way, but with a slight bend of the video card and our Leatherman handy-work, we were able to deal with the problem. The Asus card has a much smaller heatsink, so fitting the card into the slot was no longer a problem, nor was closing up the case. We ran it through the night under a 3DMark burn in, and it ran rock solid! The moral of this story — if you’re going to put a high end video card into one of these gBox machines, make sure it has a small heatsink. That will fix both your size and airflow problems.