ECS FI-5000 Pre System

   With the start of the new millennium we have truly moved into the information age.  With television, radio and print advertising all touting .com web addresses the world is beginning to rely more and more on the internet to transmit and receive information, and not just information. If nothing else this past holiday season here in the USA anyway, saw online shopping more than triple over the previous year. In urban areas you can now buy a book, rent a movie or DVD and order a pizza from work via the internet, and have them all waiting for you when you get home.  Some areas even offer next day grocery delivery from online orders.
   Amazing as this may be, what is even more amazing is the speed with which new technology is insinuating itself into our daily lives.  People who were adamant in their refusal to have anything to do with computers 3 years ago now suddenly turn to jelly when a thunderstorm fries their modem and they can't get online to retrieve their email.
   Smaller, faster and more dazzling devices using reduced power consumption are hitting the market almost daily and for the year 2000 it seems that information technology is aimed at moving into every area of our lives.  This is a good thing...

   Elitegroup Computer Systems (ECS) has just released their new FI-5000 Pre-System. A small and practical bare-bones unit it is designed to be a sort of living room multi-function information appliance.  About the size of a compact video cassette player, the FI-5000 is absolutely loaded with features at an amazingly low cost. A fully developed PC and network terminal to begin with, when accompanied by a few options the FI-5000 can become a fax machine, a CD player, a VCD/DVD player, a game station, a karaoke machine, a cost-justifiable Audio System (4 speaker), a high-end Home Theatre audio system (Dolby AC3) and an Internet browser. Its compact size - 285mm x 383mm x 90mm (11"wide x 14"deep x 3.25"height)- can be positioned horizontally or vertically depending on your space requirements, the well-styled FI-5000 also offers easy access to headphone, microphone, IrDA and USB ports by moving additional jacks and connectors to the front of the unit. 

   ECS shipped us a sample FI-5000, which included a CD-ROM and FDD and DAA modem connector for the P6IWP-Fe (i810E-based) mainboard, a PS/2 mouse and keyboard.  All that was required to convert it to a working unit was a processor (we chose an Intel Celeron 500MHz), a hard drive (Western Digital Caviar 6.4G UDMA/66) and memory (64MB PC100). The ECS P6IWP-Fe mainboard integrates VGA, sound, modem and network interface properties so that's all there is to it.  We made a few minor changes in that we pulled the CD-ROM and installed a DVD drive and WinDVD (an option that is offered by ECS) and installed the TV-Out module (also an option) that we had received earlier from ECS when reviewing the P6IWP-Fe.  According to the included documentation, the FI-5000 ships bundled with the FreeLinux 2.0 operating system.  Our sample however was without an operating system so we simply installed Windows 98 SE and then loaded all of the drivers necessary to implement the integrated peripherals offered with the P6IWP-Fe mainboard, hooked the unit up to our 35" television, telephone line and surround sound receiver , and what we ended up with was an exciting, fun and useful appliance for the living room which everyone in the family has use for.

The heart of the FI-5000 is the ECS P6IWP-Fe mainboard, which we reviewed here a few weeks ago and it's FlexATX format.  This new, highly integrated and compact mainboard design based on Intel's 810E chipset provides a neat small package that the FI-5000 houses nicely although there are a few considerations

Although the mainboard includes 2 x 32-bit PCI bus master slots, the housing, being only 3.25in. tall cannot support any standard expansion cards so the slots themselves are currently somewhat useless but since the unit comes with only a 138W power supply you're not currently likely to do a whole lot of adding on. Add to that the fact that, no matter how well designed the housing unit (and it really is well designed), interior space is a concern; primarily when it comes to building the system. I must interject here that the interior is well thought out in that it all comes apart quite easily to install the hdd, change the CD-ROM and install the CPU and memory, you just need to follow a proper sequence to get everything in and put back together but this seems pretty much true of every desktop-cased unit I've ever worked on

The case is designed to handle industry-standard floppy and CD-ROM drives so you don't need to worry about limitations as to which components to use use and the audio jacks, USB connectors and IrDA window provide easy, yet unobtrusive access to these ports. 

ECS F1-5000 Case Specifications




285mm x 383mm x 90mm ( WxDxH )

Configurat ion

CD-ROM Drive Bay x 1

3.5" Drive Bay (Ext) x 1

3.5" Drive Bay (Int) x 1


4.9Kgs with Power Supply


Recyclable Steel Internal Chassis


Designed for FCC Class B and CE


IBM Pearl White

ECS F1-5000 Power Supply 




110v/220v Auto Switch



Hold-Up Time

115v/60Hz/20mSec. - 230v/50Hz/20mSec.


UL, 1950, TUV


FCC, CE, EMI(Taiwan)


Internal Features

  1998/99 2000 MediaTek