ASUS S-presso SFF System Review Posted!

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

  1. David

    David Newbie

    Hi Orion23,

    I should be able to answer your questions within the next day or so, as I plan to use Windows XP Media Centre 2005 as the OS for my new system.

    Like you I shall be interested to see how the included FM/TV tuner performs.

    Having just had another look at the supplied Multimedia System User Guide, I see that it is necessary to install 'Instant On' before installing an operating system, which at first surprised me but, on thinking about it, I can now see the logic behind this... and the whole procedure is described in some detail in the manual!

    More news later!

  2. patrikm

    patrikm Newbie

    TV out on TV tuner

    I have only one question (aswers for other I found in review).
    If I use Instant ON function and play DVD - can I look this video on my TV attached through TV tuner????

    This is last thing which obstruct S-Presso order-:))

  3. peaz

    peaz ARP Webmaster Staff Member

    The only TV Out video is on the TV Tuner. Thus, I thnk the Instant-ON software SHOULD by right have drivers to run the TV Tuner card as well. Otherwise, it don't make sense at all.

    However, I can't confirm this as I didn't have the chance to run it. Maybe someone else who have tried it out can confirm it.
  4. David

    David Newbie


    Hopefully I can throw a bit of light on this one.

    The short answer is yes, the 'Instant-On' software does contain drivers to receive TV programs (after you have set your Country first!). It can also play CD's (naturally!), plus DVD videos (provided your player had already been set to the correct region... it can't change or set that) and it can also receive FM radio. This is all before installing Windows of course!.

    The sound quality on the TV and radio is quite poor though, which I suspect is down to the very cheap unpowered and unshielded speakers I had plugged in at the time!

  5. David

    David Newbie


    Just a quick update on the availability of these, if anyone is anxious to buy one.

    It would appear that they are currently in VERY short supply, to the extent that (so far as I am aware) they aren't any available in Europe at all at the moment... and probably won't be for at least another couple of weeks or so. If anyone has heard anything different though... please do let us know!

    I can't speak for the USA, or Asia of course, but if anyone in the UK is anxious to get his hands on one, just as soon as they are available, then I might be able to help... just drop me a PM.

  6. patrikm

    patrikm Newbie

    I'm from Czech republic and there are some pieces of this amazing HW.

  7. patrikm

    patrikm Newbie

    Thank for this info - I just waiting for this confirmation. Last night I spent with reading of manual and there ins't any hint about TV mode in Instant On. So now I can order this HW and as I hope enjoy their features. In fact I looking for similar features more than 2 years because I hate many remote controls, many hw's - one for DVD, second for CD, etc.
  8. David

    David Newbie


    Copies of the latest manuals (one for 'hardware' and another separate one for 'software') can be downloaded from the Asus website.

    It was interesting that although mine included the latest software manual, the hardware one still was the previous edition.

    Although I haven't compared them in detail, I did notice that it now tells you to jumper the optical drive as a 'master' rather than a slave.

    It does appear though that it (the optical drive) has to be connected to the Secondary IDE channel connector, rather than the Primary... even if you are (like me) using a SATA hard disk, otherwise I just could not get the 'Instant-On' software to install.

  9. peaz

    peaz ARP Webmaster Staff Member

    Sound like it's using Linux with pre-configured scripts that mounts the optical drive specifically on the master secondary IDE... I guess the installtion of the Instant-On software isn't smart enough to detect the hardware before proceeding to install itself according to the config.

    Anyways.. Thanks David for the extra info! :thumb:
  10. Pentolux

    Pentolux Newbie

    First and foremost thanks a lot for that in depth review.

    There is just one question I would like to come back to. I know that when having an additional graphic card in the Aopen XC Cube AV, the instant On feature does not really work. There seems to be a workaround on Aopen's behalf that let's you chosse the graphics adapter while using Instant On, if I understood correctly.

    Is there something like that with the P111 as well, or does an additional graphic card mean no Instant On anymore? And if it still works, does it work 100% or are there some limitations to it?

    Otherwise keep up the good reviews and thanks again for the assistance.
  11. David

    David Newbie


    I have now made a start installing Windows XP Media Centre Edition, and as expected, the onboard graphics, sound, or the TV card were not initially detected.

    What I am not particularly happy with though are the assigned drive letters!

    C, D, E and F have been 'grabbed' by the USB card readers leaving the optical drive as G: and the Windows system file partition as drive I: I therefore assume that H: has been assigned to the Instant-On partition, but am not 100% sure on this point.

    Now I don't know how others would feel about it, but I don't particularly wish to have my main system drive as I: Although I haven't actually tried it yet, I am thinking of unplugging the cable feeding the card reader panel before installing Windows, but even then I reckon that C: would then go to the Linux (or whatever) Instant-On partition, and D:to the optical drive, leaving E: for the system files etc., which again is not ideal.

    I reckon that the only way to get the 'usual' arrangement of C: and D: for the hard drive and optical drive respectively would be not to install the Instant-On software, which Asus state will not work if a separate AGP graphics card is installed anyway! (Which incidentally I haven't tried yet!)

    Any other thoughts on this?


    Last edited: Feb 24, 2005
  12. kculpia

    kculpia Newbie

    Thought I typed in a post some time ago, but I am a new user so maybe I did something wrong.

    I bought the S-Presso and installed it with a Prescott 3.0 Ghz (be careful this has a 478 socket, I missed that so had to replace the CPU with my order).

    Went with the stock tuner and all I added was the CPU, 200 GB WD hard drive (EIDE), and 2 sticks of 523 DDRAM 3200.

    Installed instant on per directions. I too had Windows install and come up with a drive letter for E:, but fixed that and had to reinstall Windows so now I have it as C: boot drive for XP.

    Instant on is a hyped failured in my mind. Unless the drivers are improved or is this thing gets some user support from Asus soon I will probably trash it and put in my own PCI cards and update the video card. Intervideo Home Theater works OK, the electronic program guide is not integrated well as is the case with most after-market software of this genre.

    Machine is quiet. Even though I have a Prescott the CPU temp stays in the 50's at the highest. Remote works well with the home theater. About all I get in the instant on is volume and change channels so I can see lots of snowy pictures. I feel instant on was not ready for the U.S. market - maybe it works well for PAL or Taiwan, but this is really a poor implementation.

    I like the SFF design, but the review failed to mention the absence of an IEEE port from transfering home video. A severe lack of planning for a computer that is designed to be in the living room.

    I am also having some difficulty getting the touch-sensitive buttons to work, the face is flush with the case so I don't know if I lodged some wires.

    That is my take. Would I buy it again? I don't know. If the instant on would work and it lived up to the claims, yes. But, this thing has taken a lot of my time and I don't know that it was worth it as I really wanted the unit to replace a TV entirely.

    Welcome comments or feedback. Didn't mean to pop anyone's bubble.
  13. kculpia

    kculpia Newbie

    I should learn to preview messages, right? Memory is 512MB X2 and DDRAM 3200 400 MHz.

    Now I have the touch buttons working correctly, but I am now convinved the wrong instant-on was installed. I put a DVD disk in and it was an "invalid region" but in the Intervideo Home Theater with Windows XP booted up, the DVD plays fine (I am region 1 ). I tried to boot from the disk to reinstall instant-on (I could have swore that I said United States when I did it the first time.
  14. patrikm

    patrikm Newbie

    System on C:

    just disable usb card reader in bios, install system on C:, card reader will be found in windows without problem, next install ASUS drives for USB and card readers will be hided until you plug in any card.

  15. patrikm

    patrikm Newbie

    TV out

    Hi, does anyone try to run video on external TV. I try it, but without success. I connect TV though s-video cable but I can find any settings for it.
    Please help me.

  16. lt_gaz

    lt_gaz Newbie

    hi, just a few questions

    hi this is my first post after reading your excellent review for the expresso thing. I was looking to get the 112 model (without the screen and TV card) and i had some queries about the parts you put in it
    1)What hard disk did you use, i dont know what to put into mine, i was looking for around 120GB.
    2)When putting in the RAM, can you mix old RAM and new RAM, because i was going to add 512MB from my old Dell pc and was going to buy 512MB from or somwhere and mix the two together to make 1024 MB.
    3) When doing that BIOS thing is it REALLY technical, because i wouldnt know where to start with the 2.60V and 2.70V thingy :confused:
    4) for the OS do you have to use Windows 2000 or Xp, because ther're a rip off and i was hoping to keep costs down
    and lastly) it says on ---> *Intel P4 3.4 GHz (Northwood and Prescott). Does this mean it already has a P4 chip in it working at 3.4Ghz or do i have to buy a new processor??

    sorry if all this sounds amateurish but we've all gotta start somewhere!

    thanks for your understanding and thanks in advance,
  17. peaz

    peaz ARP Webmaster Staff Member

    Whoops.. i think i did miss mentioning something about this.

    On the review unit, there was indeed a firewire port at the front panel beside the USB ports. Unfortunately, the front panel didn't have the hole for the firewire port 'punched off' so you'll have to do it yourself.

  18. kculpia

    kculpia Newbie

    Thanks so much!!! I didn't even realize there was Firewire!!! I probably looked at the thing quickly when I had the faceplate off and you are right, they didn't cut the black vinyl cover off around it NOR do I think they mention it in their promotion of these device. MAKE ME VERY HAPPY!!!!! :wave:


    As for the instant on feature. Does anyone get a good picture from the TV tuner? It works fine in Windows XP. I hate this and wish Asus would fix it. Now 24+ hrs without email from tech. They must KNOW THERE IS A PROBLEM.


    You asked questions about the RAM and processor (CPU). It sounds like this will be a first project for you. I think it is a easy one. Yes, you can mix RAM but I would not as you risk having problems and the SLOWER ram will slow both down.

    NOW for the second question, barebones means barebones. You get a motherboard (MB), power supply, and a case. What is nice about this system is that the case and MB are matched for features. You are looking to save money, I would suggest buying a celeron CPU. As for RAM, I would match what you have and buy it on EBAY. You do not need to buy a CPU fan, it would be too noisy and the one that comes with this unit does fine. Also, you do not need to buy CPU paste to transer heat to the sink and fan - there is a white thermal pad already installed. Like I said, this is a good first time project as you only need these 3 things after the box is bought:

    1) Hard drive (either SATA or EIDE is fine) I would suggest a min of 128 GB as these are cheap.

    2) Celeron or Pentium 4 CPU - 478 pin (read the description carefully as this is not the same across all Intel CPUs

    3) I really think your existing 512 MB RAM will be OK to get started, you can add later.

    I would do price estimates, but I think this is an international board. I would say (adjust to your currency, this is in U.S. dollars):

    S-Presso $320
    Hardrive $75 - $110
    CPU $120 - $260 (wide range here)
    RAM - use existing 512 MB to start (don't run it on 256 MB tho)
    Windows XP (can't comment, but if you buy it $110)

    Wish you lots of luck!!!
  19. kculpia

    kculpia Newbie

    I checked under hardware manager in the XP control panel.

    There is no IEEE or 1394 bus port listed as I think there is a reason these were covered up.

    I am a bit frustrated now as there is only 1 PCI slot occupied with the tuner. :wall:

    Peaz - do you know anything about this? On your machine were these ports functional?

    Maybe it is disabled with a jumper somewhere on the MB. But there is nothing on the box or in the promotional material about 1394 ports so I am thinking this was a deliberate omission.
  20. lt_gaz

    lt_gaz Newbie

    thanks, that cleared a lot up

    Thanks kculpia for the fast and detailed response. You guessed right, this is my first project. I am looking round for parts now! :D :D :thumb: :thumb:

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