ASUS S-presso SFF System Review Posted!

Discussion in 'Reviews & Articles' started by Dashken, Feb 3, 2005.

  1. TechMedic

    TechMedic Newbie

    Excuse My Mental Retardation.

    Hi All,

    I'm new here.
    After reading all these threads i'm still unclear about the following:
    1. Is MCE compatible with S-presso S1-P111 with its OEM ALL hardware ? (compents including remote)
    2. Is the TV tuner card it comes with on-board or an expansion card?
    3. Does "Instant On" and the touch-screen break if you add hardware?

    Can anyone confirm this and/or tell me what page of the manual it makes mentions of this if at all?

    Thank you.
  2. rolfeilert

    rolfeilert Newbie


    Hello sir, Do you mean that the "CNPS 7000-CU" from Zalman fitted well in the tiny espresso?,

    I have been looking for a Cooler myself , but been unsure of what to buy regarding the espresso size.

    In my espresso the case temp is 40'C under "normal" load, I feel this is a little to much, but we humans compare the Pc to other humans, so 40'C is hot for humans, but ok for PC ?


  3. rich

    rich Newbie

    Yes, the 7000-cu does fit in the s-presso. It is one of the few coolers that has relatively low height, so it makes no contact with the other components. I've looked for other CPU-coolers but the CNPS-7000 was the only that had the right size and cooling capability (for P4 prescott), and of course is quiet (with q-fan).

    The installation is however more difficult since the socket 478 retainer is not provided with the motherboard of the s-presso (I had a spare, so I used that one).

  4. Dolphin

    Dolphin Newbie

    As I understand, it is not supposed to be there, at all (on my model there are even no marks "FireWire should be there" on the front, and only holes for it on the main chassi).

    Just yesterday I've replaced my older 250GB PATA HD with a new 500GB SATA one. Unfortunately I didn't test if the Instant-On installation CD will work or not, I just created partitions and copied the whole partition with Instant-On from the older HD to the new one (dd command in Linux, that I use). And it works from the new HD after that.

    I was doing all the partitions first and leaving about 200MB of free, unpartitioned space at the end of a HD (25 sectors). The Instant-On installation CD will create the needed partition and install itself into it. The partition is of type 88 (linux plaintext), created automatically by the install CD. Instant-On will not boot if the partition type is set wrong (if you played with it with fdisk, for example).
  5. ysury

    ysury Newbie

    Thanks for the reply. :beer:
    Before I checked your reply, I was preparing partition for Mandrake Linux. Not till the installing Linux, I restart and booting Instant On. The result is... Instant On is working!!! :dance:
    After that, I try to install Windows XP Pro into the next partition, but... only 130 GB detected, out of 300's GB remain.
    Where'd it go? :wall:

    Well, I can't find my FDISK in my Windows XP (in my other computer), so I wanna try w/ Computer Management... :think:
  6. Dolphin

    Dolphin Newbie

    That's a common problem with big HDs and limitations of the Windows installer - it can't see beyond those 130GB. One of solutions is to create a smaller partition (say 50GB) for Windows (disk C: ), and leave the rest of unpartitioned space until you install Windows. Then from Windows you can choose HD Manager and format that unpartitioned space (no 130GB limits if you format from Windows). It also helps when you have to reinstall Windows later (you will have to, sooner or later - it's Windows), cause you don't have to format everything, only the disk C:, and you can store all your data on that another partition.

    I don't remember how exactly it's being called in Win XP, something like HDPART.EXE - try to type "help" (without quotas) in DOS window, it will give you a list of commands. Keep in mind that Windows doesn't support other partition types well, and there might be partitions it can't manipulate.
  7. rolfeilert

    rolfeilert Newbie


    I can imagine the inside air beeing sirculated a lot now, but do u get the hot air out of the box ? , What about having an extra fan mounted inside one of the big wenting holes , instead of the small holes in the back ?

    What's your current case temp ?


    I wonder how much the case temp
  8. ysury

    ysury Newbie

    I tried what you suggest but... my XP still only can find 131GB. It's really sucks... :( I tried to format via Linux, but it just make previous NTFS broken.
  9. zy

    zy Staff Member

    i wonder if its had to do with the bios settings :mrgreen:
  10. ysury

    ysury Newbie

    Thanks to Dolphin, finally my S-Presso is completely works. Now, I wanna start to copy my DVD into the CPU. Any idea what softwares should I use?

    Thanks for any suggestions.
  11. sirryche

    sirryche Newbie


    my system keeps placing my hdd to 3rd ide and odd to 4th. how do i make the primary and secondary? been in bios no go.
  12. martianrobot

    martianrobot Newbie

    My mixed experience of the S-presso

    I was looking for a small and quiet barebones system that I could use as a basis for a Media Centre PC. The S-presso seemed like a good choice because of Instant On, Home Theater software with remote, front panel info and TV card. I ordered it from as it was on special offer for £95+vat - a bargain surely? I got it the next day at 9am. Good old Overclockers!

    My inital experience on opening the box was one of excitement and enthusiasm - everything was very professionally packaged and presented, with full and informative glossy manuals and all the required bits and pieces to get up and running right away (well, apart from processor, memory, hard drive and DVD writer of course!)

    The case itself looked quite cool, almost retro in style - like one of those old portable bubble TVs from the 70s/80s. However, what I didnt realise when buying was that it was dark blue in colour, and not black, like it looked in the photos. It was also a bit too plasticy and shiny for my liking, but this is all not a problem as I was mostly looking for functionality.

    The remote looked very chunky and convincing, very similar to the Microsoft MCE one. Some of the buttons felt a bit squidgy, but generally I felt impressed with it.


    For this system build I used the following... Celeron 2.8ghz, 512mb Elixir DDR400, Samsung Spinpoint 80gb SATA drive, Emprex Dual DVD-RW.

    Like most people I found the front cover a real pain to get off, but after that ordeal was over I generally found the case was very easy to work with, much more so than some larger 'cube' cases I've used (such as the Antec Aria). Getting all the components in place was a doddle, even the unique and very serious looking CPU heatsink & fan provided.

    My first gripe here was that the hard drive is not completely solidly held in place by the locking mechanism and there is no option for it to be screwed into place. I would also have liked some rubber dampening mechanism here too as I later found out hard drive vibration causes some audible rattling of the plastic casing.

    I discovered the Firewire ports hidden behind the front panel, which is a nice bonus, but there were no Firewire headers on the motherboard. Why on earth didn't they add this functionality to the motherboard, it surely would have only cost a few dollars more?


    I decided to setup the Instant On software first to check it all out. After following the detailed manual and messing about with the BIOS to get my SATA drive properly recognised, I inserted the CD and it all went swimmingly - very easy and quick with no problems.

    I turned off the system, and then pressed the power button on the remote - a joy to behold the PC boot up into the InstantOn software in about 10 seconds. It went straight into the TV mode and started to scan for channels - it quickly found 4 of the 5 terrestrial analogue channels in the UK.

    The picture seemed fine but the sound was very distorted. I tried using the fine tune option that appears when you press the 'More Info' button on the remote and was able to get the sound just right, however the picture lost most of its colour - no amount of messing with the settings or the powered set top ariel I was using could get it working exactly right. I don't know whether this is a signal, a software or a hardware problem.

    To be honest, though a TV tuner is initially attractive, I would have prefered it if they had made it a hybrid card, with both analogue and digital DVB-T tuners. Or a choice of either. It might have added £30 or £40 to the price of the system, but I think that is worth paying for. Oh, by the way, there is no PVR facilities in the TV mode of InstantOn - its for viewing only and not recording.

    I moved on and tried the other modes. These all seemed to work ok but with very basic functionality, though using the remote to do stuff was great fun. The FM radio seemed to be okay, if rather simple. The music player played CDs okay, and as I found out later after I had installed Windows XP, you can navigate through your Windows partition to find your music folders. However this only allows you to play MP3 and not WMA files, and you cannot select an album folder or a collection of files to play - you have to add individual files to a simple playlist that you cannot save for future use. There also seemed to be no equaliser control - you were stuck with the sound as it is.

    The first major problem I found was with the DVD player - it would not play region 2 DVDs, even though I was using a region 2 DVD-RW drive, that I later found out worked fine in Windows. It played region-free DVDs ok, including home-made ones. I'm not sure if this was because it was a new drive that hadnt been permanently set to region 2 yet - I'll check that out later if I can be bothered!

    There is no picture album viewing abilities for InstantOn, which seems like another important ommision - if they could navigate a drive and play music in the music player, how much more effort would it have been for them to create a little InstantOn app to allow you to display images in a picture viewer?

    The overall interface is a bit messy, with each mode seming to have a different look and feel, though the popup settings and usage menus are the same throughout.

    Overall, InstantOn is a good idea that mostly works but is very basic and limited in its scope, and has a few very serious faults and ommissions. More work on this would be appreciated ASUS!

    (Actually, one thing I would like to see is the ability to play CDs without the PC system needed to be started up at all, using enough power to allow the usage of the drive and the audio hardware - I think some MSI systems and laptops have this don't they?)

    Front Panel

    Whilst messing around with everything in InstantOn I decided to check out the front panel. All the buttons seemed to work okay and do the function they represent. Can I call them buttons though? You don't actually have to press anything - in fact, I discovered you didnt even need to touch it, as hovering your finger tip less than a milimetre away seemed to work! This is cool, as it means you dont have to mess up the shiny surface with greasy fingerprints!

    The display itself is pretty nifty, though I dont see why they bothered with the LEDs behind each 'button' symbol as it makes them difficult to see. The main display is informative and attractive, looking like a good hifi panel. It features a clock with date when idle, icons and relative info for each mode, a CPU & system temperature gauge and volume bars. However, the continually rotating circle on the right that appears when you play anything, including TV, is distracting and pointless.


    Whilst playing a CD in InstantOn I decided to check out the headphone socket behind the flipdown panel, and was horrified to discover a lot of nasty noises - no, not the Aphex Twin CD I was playing, but a load of electrical interference noise including very audible clicks, hisses and a continual drone - these were apparent even with the sound turned low or muted. After opening the case and messing about I discovered that these noises were caused by the display panel as they seemed to disappear when I unplugged it!

    Sound from the back audio-out port seemed okay on speakers, though when I plugged my headphones in here the interference was still evident though much reduced.

    For a PC that touts itself as a multimedia system this is a serious issue - electrical noise really ruins your enjoyment of music and DVD, especially through headphones. This is the one main thing that has put me off this system, along with other issues of noise.

    You see, when you first turn it on, the system is almost silent, you can just hear the whirr of your hard drive closeup. There was the occasional rattle of the case from hard drive vibration but nothing that can't be fixed. "This is briiliant!" I thought, "just what I've been looking for!", but then I looked closely and saw that the case and CPU fans weren't even turning, which had me worried at first but then I realised the system used smart fan control system.

    After 5 or 10 minutes the fans kicked in. And my initial pleasure disappeared. The fans made a noise. Not a huge noise, not compared to some systems, but enough to be heard over techno music at middle volume, enough to be heard across a 4 metre wide room with music at low volume.

    Not only were the fans audible, they also seemed to be making some funny noises - the CPU fan occasionally creaked and rattled, and one of the two 6cm fans at the back of the case made more noise than the other. These fans seemed to be very poor quality. I just dont understand why manufacturers skimp on these things when for a few bucks more they can use vastly superior components. If I was to keep this case then I'd definitely be investing in some low noise AcoustiFans as replacements.

    When looking at the fans I dscovered that the PSU was very hot - on closer inspection I found out that the airflow to it was restricted by poor placing of the grill of the shelf it sat on - to improve airflow the case would need definitely need some modding with a hacksaw!

    All in all, the noise of this system out-of-the-box means it is just not really suitable for a semi-serious home theater media centre PC which is its intended purpose... in fact it is actually almost twice as noisy as my current desktop setup, and though I admit that is in a quality large tower case with an Arctic Cooler HS&F, slow running 90mm case fans and an expensive Antec NeoPower PSU with a very quiet 120mm fan, it also features 3 hard drives and an ASUS Radeon X800 XTPE!

    Windows and the Home Theater Software

    The manual recommends you install InstantOn then WindowsXP, but I have read elsewhere it is better to do it the other way round, leaving at least 200mb spare on your hard drive for InstantOn when setting up the Windows XP partition. So when it came to setting up XP I removed the InstantOn partition I had already created. Then installed Windows. Then installed InstantOn again. Still with me? It worked anyway and I had none of the problems that others reported.

    After setting up Windows XP and the hardware drivers the first thing I did was install the supplied Home Theater software - this is an Asus branded version of Intervideos software. I am happy to say all installations proceeded without hitch or fault, just as it should be!

    The Home Theater software is a full function suite that works just like Windows Media Centre Edition - it opens up a full screen display suitable for 'away from the PC' viewing with an attractive, easy to read and navigate menu system for use with the remote control. It works very well at what it does, allowing you access to TV, PVR, FM radio, music, DVD and image viewing functionality at the press of a few buttons. Though it is not as streamlined as Windows MCE or as configurable as other similar media front ends such as Meedio or MediaPortal, it is still very good and its great to play around with stuff using a remote. You can even power off your whole system with the remote!

    I havent really got anything bad to say about the Home Theater software in this system, apart from it can be a bit sluggish at starting up and responding to the remote.

    General system

    I've not done a lot else with this system, but it feels quite stable and useable as a Windows desktop computer. The 2D graphics output is very clean and crisp for an integrated GPU - as good as my Radeon anyway! I've not tried out any games or anything (and I am a gamer!) but it has the same Intel Extreme 2 graphics as my laptop, so I expect it can deal with older 3D classics like Half-Life, Deus Ex, Homeworld, Quake3 and Call Of Duty adequately, as well as some of the less demanding newer games on lower settings.

    However, the hardware problems of the TV tuner, fan noise, and bad interference on the front panel audio output carried over into Windows - the latter being worse, as any computer activity including mouse movement added more interference. On top of this the motherboard seems to have developed an intermittent high pitched hiss that occurs on disk access. Its just not good enough ASUS!


    The S-presso has come so close to being a great little system that cannot be ignored. On the face of it it features some superb unique abilities that really lend it to being a perfect low price media centre PC... the InstantOn OS-free ability, the included TV card, the all-in-one Home Theater software and excellent remote, the informative front panel and its ease of usage. Great!

    But when it comes down to it, on closer inspection it just doesnt quite add up. The main reason for this being that ASUS seem to have gone down the false economy route of building an otherwise good system with some low quality / limited ability hardware components, and not-quite-up-to-scratch software utilities.

    The plastic case feels a bit creaky and rattles. The fans are too noisy and poor quality. The PSU is underpowered but overheats. The drive trays are not buffered to reduce vibration. The difficult to remove front panel features a hidden firewire port that is useless as there is no header on the mobo. The mainboard has only one PCI slot which is taken up by a bog standard analogue only TV tuner. The InstantOn software is limited and not very polished, and will not work with any other graphics card, or presumably any other TV tuner or soundcard. And worst of all the headphone socket has the most awful interference that more-or-less renders it unusable.

    I paid £95+vat for this barebones, which is pretty cheap I guess. It normally retails at £150+vat, which although still seems reasonable is not quite so attractive considering what I know now. If ASUS addressed the quality issues, if they made it that bit sturdier so it didnt rattle, added higher quality lower noise fans, included a hybrid analogue/digital TV tuner as standard, sorted out the electrical interference noise issues, connected up the Firewire port and polished up the InstantOn software, then this system would be fantastic and I would gladly pay twice what I did for it.

    As it is I am probably going to be returning it to my supplier. I would rather I didn't have to, because I really want to like it. Because it is fun, easy to use and it would otherwise do the job well. Because I really want it to work as it should. But it doesn't. Which is a real shame.


    PS: Sorry, I went on a bit here didnt I? I only meant to write a few bullet points of pros and cons! I hope its helpful to someone.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2006
  13. diggum

    diggum Newbie


    I've had heat issues since I first got mine in August 2005. Then, After putting a new PCI card in to add Firewire support, the CPU and System fans stopped working. The motherboard power connectors aren't working at all. I was able to patch the CPU fan into an empty molex, which keeps it running 100%, but no system fans. It's been okay, but when I run Second Life, It shoots up to 75* C. Not good. It drops down when I close the program.

    I'll open it up this weekend and see if I can find a short, but any other tips would be welcome.

    Other than the heat issues and the relatively slow sound card, I really like the machine.
  14. kamikaze

    kamikaze Newbie

    Which Windows OS to purchase?

    Hi all,

    Thank you for the posts concerning the S-Presso, it appears that the main issue surrounds the use of an AGP card. :boohoo: By the way, I still have my AGP card installed, but have disabled it in the BIOS which allows me to use Instant-On. The only problem is that, if I want to switch betwen using and not using my AGP card, I have to go into my BIOS. It's a pity there's no "hardware profile" function on boot-up.

    A question: I need to buy an OS for my S-Presso. Which OS do you recommend? :confused: Do I use Windows XP with the ASUS home theatre package, or should I buy Windows Media Centre Edition (MCE)? If I buy the MCE, will the ASUS remote be compatible or would I have to add another remote to the coffee table? :doh:

    Thanking you in advance for your reply
  15. frame

    frame Newbie

    Hi guys!
    I'm new in the forum!
    I write from Italy: just today I've bought a Asus S-presso S1 P111!

    First I try to install INSTANON:

    but BAD NEWS!!..I can't complete the install for a STUPID PS/2 KEYBORD!!..I'm very hungry!!..I've a fantastic Loghitec Dinovo Laser (Bluetooth/USB dongle but work great also without any driver, and in Bios screen!!)
    It's INCREDIBLE :( ..
    I try to look for update hoping to solve PS/2 problem: in Asus site there is the update version of Instant on !!!
    ..I have burned ISO file (54 Mb) and...
    NOTHING HAPPEND!!..the PS/2 BUGS isn't solved!..USB Keybord are not supported yet!!

    ASUS WEAK UP!!.. PS2 ERA IT'S FINISH!! ( AND OLSO PARALLEL PORT: does anyone have a parallel printer yet? ...I Know same museum are looking for this printer!!)

    Ciao from Milano -ITALY-
  16. Chai

    Chai Administrator Staff Member

    I'm still using a parallel port printer... :shifty:
  17. frame

    frame Newbie

    This FORUM It's very LAZY!!

    No Ans! one follows the reply...

  18. aKho

    aKho beat around the bush

    erm, reading your previous post, it didn't seem like your asking a question, more like telling us your experience with the system.

    sorry if it didn't work out for you but as you can see from gary2511's post, he's experiencing the same problem. possibly ASUS may be aware of this but have not come out with a solution for it (or maybe there is one already out).

    my suggestion? perhaps since you just bought it 3 days ago, you could contact your dealer and let them have a look. :think:
  19. aKho

    aKho beat around the bush

    just an update. below is the faq site for ASUS. check it out if there is an answer there for your problem (i've checked but couldn't find anything on usb keyboard support, but tons of other problems solved in regards to this system). hope it helps. :oops:
  20. aKho

    aKho beat around the bush

    i came across this question on using a usb flashdrive with this system, perhaps it relates to your keyboard? :think:

    sorry for the triple post.. :oops:

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