AOpen Mini XC Cube MZ855-II

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AOpen Mini XC Cube MZ855-II

Pros

  • Quiet operation

Cons

  • No provision for 5.25' CD/DVD drive or floppy drive

Bottom Line

With the Mini XC Cube, AOpen uses notebook technology to deliver a desktop that is both tiny and quiet.

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AOpen's newest barebones (motherboard and case) small form factor PC is the first we've seen to use an Intel Pentium M (notebook) processor--perfect for reducing noise and heat. Processor installation was easy enough, but the circuit board to which the external 19V DC adapter connects needs to be removed. The PCI and AGP slots both require low-profile cards; the latter could be useful for installing a graphics card with TV-out.

We appreciated the MZ855-II's quietness, a result of it using just one side-firing processor fan and plenty of ventilation along both sides, assisting the escape of warm air throughout.

This MZ855-II has two IDE hard disk ports, but we felt the system would benefit from easier-to-manage SATA cables. This is more a limitation of the 855GME chipset (400MHz frontside bus, 2GB maximum memory). This small form factor design doesn't provide room for a 5.25" CD/DVD drive, so you'll need to obtain a slim, notebook-style optical drive, nor does it have provision for a floppy drive. Only one 3.5" device can be installed in this unit, and that device is your hard drive.

The front-left fascia of the MZ855-II flips open to reveal a seven-in-one media card reader, while a front-bottom lip pops down, allowing easy access to connections (optical audio, headphone, microphone, two USB 2.0, six-pin and four-pin FireWire).

It's taken a while for notebook technology to creep into small form-factor PCs and we can't wait to see further and more positive approaches from AOpen, particularly those based on Intel's 915PM Express chipset with SATA and PCIe controllers.

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