8 SFF PCs: Small, But Not So Quiet

The Candidates In Detail

AOpen's XC Cube EX915 Has A Familiar Look But Has New Hardware Inside

AOpen's latest does not look any different from its predecessor. Model . However, its insides are not the same. The socket 775 motherboard is designed for Intel's i915 chipset, which offers PCI Express as a graphical interface, while AGP graphics cards are no longer compatible.

The CPU fan of the new XC Cube is a holdover from the EX65 series. As we found out later, it is also as loud as it was in previous models.

However, AOpen has not cut corners on interfaces. The motherboard has one IDE and four serial ATA ports. What they can be used for is questionable, because the internal retainer is only designed for two 3.5" and one 5.25" drive. However, because the PC has no external connection option for the Serial-ATA interface, at least one of these is superfluous.

The interior of the XC Cube EX915 is spacious. The ties snugly fasten the cables to the case's frame so they do not get in the way when you add the CPU, the memory sticks and the hard drive.

The integrated VGA solution of the i915 chipset provides the video output. This is plenty enough for office and Internet solutions. Even simple games can be run with the onboard graphics, but you shouldn't expect much. More-demanding games refuse to launch since their minimum hardware requirements are not met.

What is included with the XC Cube EX915

The "on" button lights up when the XC Cube is running

The connectors on the back include a parallel interface

All cables are neatly fastened with cable ties

Pros

  • No annoying front panel
  • Lots of S-ATA ports
  • Parallel interface available

Cons

  • Little leeway for PCI-Express graphics card
  • Loud CPU fan
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