Introduction

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Skyhawk is a name most DIY system builders are familiar with. Since the mid-1990?s they have been manufacturing high quality PC cases. With SFF PCs becoming all the rage with both media PC users and LAN party enthusiasts, Skyhawk has released their own small form factor case, the Media PC model# IMC6375.

Today we?ll take a closer look at the IMC6375, the fourth SFF chassis that Skyhawk Group has developed. In researching the other units for this review, the IMC6375 appears to not only be the newest, but also the most aesthetically pleasing of the Skyhawk line.

Labeled Side

Labeled Rear

 

Specifications

 
CASE

?          Material: 1.0mm High Quality Aluminum Alloy.< ?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

?          Drive Bays Space: 5.25"*1, 3.5"*2.

?          Mainboard: Support Mini ITX Mainboard up to 19cm*23cm.

?          Dimension: D12.2?x W7.9?xH7.2?.

?          LED displayFan, temperature, time, clock with music equalizer display.

?          Power supply250W output with APFC and SATA, FCC, CE approved.

?          Front I/O interface with USB2.0x2, Audio in/out, IEEE 1394.

?          One 5.25" drive bay cover for CD/DVD-ROM.

?          One 3.5" open drive bay cover.

Mainboard (4865GQET

?          CPU Support: Intel Pentium 4 socket 478 (Hyper Threading Support).

?          Chipset: Intel 865G + ICH 5.

?          FSB: 400 / 533 / 800 MHz.

?          System Memory: DDR 400 x2 up to 2 GB.

?          Audio: 6 Channel AC'97 Sound.

?          AGP: 8X.

?          IDE: Ultra DMA 66 / 100 / 133, Serial ATA.

?          Expansion Slot: PCI x1, AGP x1

?          Back panel I/O Support: USB 2.0 x4, PS2 x2, 1394 x1, COM x1, VGA x1,    SPK x1, MIC x1, LINE IN x1.

?          I/R remote control media PC center.

?          ET-BIOS built in, user friendly, play DVD, VCD, CD, MP3 before windows running.

Optional

?          Cooling Fans: CPU cooler with heat pipe.

?          6 in 1 card reader.

?          TV card with FM radio.

?          Upgrade to 300W output power supply.

?          LCD monitor with TV.

?          Wireless Keyboard & Mouse.

      ?          2.1 channel SUB-woofer speakers.

External Impression

Case Front

The IMC6375 is very light weight and easily portable, measuring (D)12.2?x (W)7.9?x (H)7.2?, and is made of light weight 1.0mm thick high quality aluminum.  The finish is a shiny but brushed aluminum with a high gloss silver face plate.  The face has a single external 5.25? bay (CD/DVD-ROM) as well as single 3.5? floppy drive bay.  

I appreciate that a blank silver plate is included in case the user chooses not to use a floppy drive. My first fear was that I would have to try to find a DVD/CD Burner with a silver face plate in order to keep the same clean look that makes the IMC6375 so easy on the eyes. I was again pleased to see that the developers at Skyhawk thought of this in advance and created a cover that will work with most CD/DVD-ROM units.

The CD/DVD-ROM is easily loaded and placed flush against the inside of the folding front door. The external button in on the drive should line up with the CD/DVD-ROM that is installed and in turn be able to operate the drive flawlessly. The folding door of the bay should easily fold down and allow the CD/DVD-ROM tray to open and close without a snag.

The front of the case hides a ?Mini-I/O? port that includes two USB 2.0, one Audio In/Out, and one IEEE 1394 port. These ports will come in handy for quick use of headphones and USB devices such as a wireless network card and a USB memory drive.

Side Panel

Both sides of the IMC6375 chassis are identical, with three rows of angled vents, which direct air toward the board and other components. I found the ventilation to be quite adequate while not taking away from the overall look of the case.

The rear of the case includes an I/O board with two PS2, one COM, one VGA, one USB 2.0, one IEEE 1394, one Line in, one MIC, one Speaker, and an Ethernet connection.  The AGP and PCI card slots are covered by a thin, tabbed piece of metal that must be carefully broken off (from the inside) and discarded to gain access to the slots. I mentioned that they are to be discarded, because they are not reusable once they are removed.

Case Rear

I would have preferred to have seen the standard reusable metal slot covers that are common on most cases. The vent that you may notice in the middle of the case is the CPU cooler ported exhaust vent. You will see this in use as we move to the internal workings of the chassis.

Internal Impression

Case Top

Internal view

The IM6375 comes pre-wired and ready to rumble. I was surprised to the see all of the cables neatly zip tied to allow for maximum airflow and easy installation of the CPU, memory and other optional components. I thought I would have problems, because of my large hands working in such a tight space might cause the inadvertent disconnecting of cables and wires as I tried to install the PC?s innards, but this was not the case.

Motherboard

The motherboard is an Acorp 4865GQP/4865GQET based on the Intel Springdale-G i865G chipset. The IMC6375?s manual states the difference between the 4865GQP and the 4865GQET is in the BIOS. ?The basic I/O system of the 4865GQP will start the PC system and then conventionally call out the operating system for user?s manipulation, while the BIOS of the 4865GQET is incorporated with an etBIOS with which the PC system is first started into a Media Selector screen instead of directly to the OS. For this review I have enabled the etBIOS, which I think is a great feature because it allows you to play CD?s, MP3?s and DVD?s without waiting on the system to boot up.

etBIOS

For this review, I installed an Intel P4 2.4GHz Northwood. I went with an older Northwood processor rather then the newer but much hotter Prescott, since this case would have much less room to install a high end HSF or additional fans to compensate for the extra heat a Prescott is known for emitting.

Spire HSF

HSF Side View

The IMC6375 came with a Spire HSF, including a 80MM 12V ball bearing fan with a 3 pin connector. After removing the protective covering on the heatsink I was pleased to find a very smooth surface that needed no additional lapping prior to being installed on the CPU.

Temperature Probes

The removable HDD rack is designed for easy removal by simply unscrewing a single thumb screw and sliding the rack out the side of the case.

removable HDD tray removable HDD tray

The HDD is then screwed into the sliding case and returned to the original position. The CD/DVD-ROM drive is not difficult to install, but it must be slid in at a slight angle in order to fit in correctly. I recommend installing the CD/DVD-ROM cables prior to installing the HDD drive.

Optical drive placement

Once the optical drive is in place, it is a very tight fit and even the nimblest of fingers may have a hard time getting back in there. Installing a floppy drive would be next, but I chose not to install a floppy drive, instead saving the additional space to install another hard drive at a later time.

Memory Slots

There are only two 184-pin DDR sockets for memory, a trade off for the overall size of the system, but the motherboard will support up to 2GB DDR SDRAM in dual channel operation.

Internal Impression...continued

Power Supply unit (PSU)

Power Supply Unit

One problem I encountered is that there are only two 4 pin Molex connectors and one Serial ATA connector. Let?s do the math: CD/DVD-ROM drive (1 Molex down), ATA HDD (2 Molex connectors gone), now we have nothing to power the ATI X800 video card we want to install and run games. So, what we must do is install a Serial ATA HDD and use the now free 4 pin Molex to power the video card. I would like to have seen an extra power line even if it was another SATA line for an additional HDD. This would mean we now need a bigger PSU, which is not entirely bad. For what we are using this system for (a Media PC) the included 250W PSU will work just fine! I installed a Seagate ATA HDD and an NEC 16x CD/DVD RW drive, which took up both of my 4 pin Molex cables. This was not a huge problem unless I choose to play graphic intensive games such as Doom3, Far Cry, Everquest II and so on. Instead of the X800 video card that requires a 4-pin Molex cable I downgraded to a perfectly adequate ATI 9600XT, which worked fine and did not require an additional power source. 

Accessories

Accessories

The included accessories are as follows:

 

Everything needed to get you started is included except the CPU, memory, HDD, optical drives and a video card.

 

Remote

The remote is small and light weight, but easy to use. Upon testing I found it to be effective at ranges of up to 20 feet, which should be fine for the average size room.

 

 

Testing

The CPU (2.4Ghz) was only able to be overclocked to 215 FSB (2.61Ghz) and still have full stability. I was able to overclock it to 222 FSB, but I was not able to get any sound to work. The CPU clock is capped at 233 and the DDR voltage was 2.5-3.0. There was no visible way to increase the voltage in order to overclock any further and maintain full functionality. The small 250W PSU appears to be the limiting factor in overclocking the system. Although the differences are not great, we were able to achieve some improvements with the limited overclocking ability.

3DMark05

  3DMark05 is a premium benchmark for evaluating the latest generation of gaming hardware. It is the first benchmark to require a DirectX9.0 compliant hardware with support for Pixel Shaders 2.0 or higher. Resolution was set to 1024x768.

3DMark05

3DMark03

 The 3DMark03 CPU test is a convenient way to measure the performance of the CPU for typical 3D usage. The featured tests isolate the performance of key 3D features primarily relating to shader technologies.

3DMark03

AquaMark3

 AquaMark3 executes a complete state-of-the-art game engine and generates 3D scenes designed to make the same demands on hardware as a modern game. AquaMark3 utilizes recent hardware features of the new DirectX 9 API, such as PixelShader 2.0, while staying fully backward compatible to DirectX 8 and 7 graphics hardware.

AquaMark3 CPU

Sisoft Sandra 2005

SiSoft Sandra 2005 is a synthetic benchmark for testing primary components.
The tests can stress a system's CPU, Memory, or Multimedia capabilities.
Sandra 2005 supports X86 (32-bit) and X86-64 (64-bit) hardware and OS's.

Sandra Dhrystone ALU

 

Sandra CPU Multimedia

Sisoft Sandra

SiSoft Sandra 2005 is one of the leading providers of computer analysis, diagnostic and benchmarking software. SANDRA is used by almost 400 world-wide IT publications, magazines, review sites to analyse the performance of today?s computers. Over 4,000 on-line reviews of computer hardware that use SANDRA are catalogued on the company?s website alone. SiSoft Sandra benchmarks show the power of emerging new technologies like multi-core, Wireless MMX, AMD64/EM64T, IA64, NUMA, SMT (Hyper-Threading), SMP (multi-threading), SSE2, SSE, 3DNow! Enhanced, 3DNow!, Enhanced MMX and MMX.

Sisoft Sandra Memory Bandwidth

AquaMark3

 AquaMark3 is a powerful tool to determine reliable information about the gaming performance of a computer system. Again, resolution was set 1024x768.

AquaMark 3 Graphics

Doom 3

Doom 3 is one of the most system taxing games available. Its popularity also makes it a great choice for system benchmarking. I like to use Time Demo 1 with resolution set to 1024x768 with detail set to high.

Doom 3

FarCry

Far Cry is another popular FPS title that seriously taxes your systems graphics. HardwareOC developed this specialized benchmarking utility that automatically runs the test twice and averages out the score. V 1.41 was used here, with a resolution of 1024x768 and detail levels set to high.

Far Cry

Final Thoughts

Case Front

There are many brands of small form factor PC?s on the market. While media PC?s are becoming both more popular and more common, high end media PC?s can easily run over $2000. This unit should rival the results of many on the market at less than half the cost. The IMC6375 is the perfect size for a media PC, and yet it still packs the punch to be a decent gaming PC for LAN parties. The issues to keep in mind are the limited PSU power and the lack of available cooling for over-clockers.

If you want to make this a LAN Party or gaming PC then you will need to plan your component choices carefully. If you want a more powerful video card such as an ATI x800, then you will need to install a SATA hard drive or SATA optical, otherwise you will not have the needed 4 pin molex for the video card. You can run an ATI 9600XT and not worry about the video card power, since the 9600XT does not require and external power source. But of course your performance and frame rates will suffer accordingly.

open case

The system was easy enough to assemble, just keep in mind that the space is tight, so be a little patient and read the instructions first. Yes, I did say read the instructions first, trust me on this one, it pays to read the instructions! There are a few little ?secret? ways to install full size cards and drives into a half size chassis. With that said I want to mention that this is a nice Small Form Factor PC which I do recommend. It is stylish and compact, yet powerful enough for just about any application you choose.

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The Legit Bottom Line

An outstanding choice for a DIY media center, and with optional components, a good LAN Party candidate.