Smaller phones, smaller PDAs, smaller MP3 players -- why not make something smaller that would benefit from the size loss? Small Form Factor (SFF) systems aim to do just that. The problem: SFF systems just don't have the horsepower of larger systems. Until now. AOpen's EX65 challenges this notion, and a few other assumptions about SFF systems. Pros: Great looks, quiet, very customizable BIOS options, and able to handle powerful components. Cons: Loud when under heavy workloads, no on-board DVI, and lack-luster tech support. Lowdown: As far as SFF systems are concerned, we haven't seen any more rock-solid than this.
Space-saving hardware is something just about every user looks for in his or her desktop computer. Although there are some who see a big, bulky, eight-5.25-inch drive bay monster case with a 500W power supply as a vehicle to geek-sex appeal, the fact of the matter is for a majority of the population, smaller is better. Ever wonder why laptops are so popular, even among those who don't generally tote them around? What about LCDs? iMacs? Just about the only thing getting bigger is the keyboard. And so long as a system is able to give users what they want – whether it's video, email, or even 3D modeling – the smaller system will almost certainly beat out the larger system.
That's why we at Dev Hardware have spent so much time reviewing Small Form Factor (SFF) systems. Originally pioneered by Shuttle, these systems generally perform as well as their full sized counterparts. (The exception, of course, is in overclocking, where the SFF's smaller size will generally cause higher temperatures within a system.) Of course with decreased size comes decreased expandability. USB and FireWire can easily make up for this lack of in-case expandability, and although their ubiquity makes them common enough for people to take them as serious alternatives, solutions based on these technologies usually cost more than in-the-box components.
Today we're taking a look at a member of AOpen's acclaimed XCube line of Small Form Factor (SFF) systems, the EX65, or Cyber Shock. With an ultra-stylish look, the XCube Cyber Shock is sure to make people take notice. What's really interesting is the type of power this little machine can unleash.
What's In the Box?
Before we move on to what's in the box, there's something small-but-interesting we found on the box itself: a handle bar. Although this might seem like a small matter, those who like to tote around their computers to the occasional LAN party or Beowulf cluster creation should find this little add on a rather helpful.
Within the package, users will find an easy installation guide, user's manual, utility CD, one floppy cable, two IDE cables, a Serial ATA cable, 4-pin standard to SATA power connector, a CPU fan, a bag of screws, a power cord, and the EX65 unit. Unless planning to set up multiple SATA drives, users should find all they need in order to quickly set up a system.
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