Review: Hush Mini-ITX PC

Complete|Mobile Systems
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It looked as if a special tool would be needed to remove the flat-headed, double-dimple screws, but a little friction with the thumb was enough to unloosen them. The chassis is simplicity itself: 3 machined extrusions -- the sides and front, and 3 pieces of sheet metal -- the top, bottom and back panel. They interlock together securely with a minimal number of screws. Everything fits quite nicely.

It's tidy and neat under the hood, despite the low profile. The short rounded blue data cable connects the optical drive in center; the standard 80-conductor flat ribbon cable connects the Seagate Barracuda IV 40G drive on the left. A riser card allows horizontal insertion of a PCI card in the space over the USB and firewire ports at the back left. Beneath the optical drive is the regulation circuitry portion of the power supply, whose main cable runs along the right to the mainboard. Our sample was outfitted with the 55W Morex PSU, which is in 2 parts: The transformer is in a small external plastic casing which provides 12VDC to this internal part via a plug on the back panel. (See page 2 of the VIA EPIA-M10000 Mini-ITX board review for more details of the Morex PSU.)

Of course, the most interesting part is the CPU cooling. We don't want to disappoint you, so here's that portion, in close detail.

A machined aluminum piece with a 90° angle heatpipe is clamped to the CPU. Note that it is not only the CPU that the aluminum block make contact with. Look at the photo below of the stock EPIA-M10000 board.

See the silver colored heatsink (marked "CLE266") in the center next to the CPU cooler with fan? That's the Northbridge chip. It is cooled by the same system that cools the CPU. The heatpipe makes a right angle turn, then runs into a groove machined into the side of the right heatsink and is clamped against. That's how the heat from the CPU and Northbridge chip is moved to the massive heatsink.

The 1GHz CPU in the EPIA-M10000 dissipates a maximum peak of ~15W. The heatsink itself looks capable of cooling the output transistors on a 100W+ output audio amplifier. Not only that, but because the heatsink is tightly coupled to the rest of the chassis, the entire case can help to dissipate the heat. No wonder a fan is not needed!

The hard drive is positioned on the left side of the case, behind the power switch. It's hidden from view under a formed aluminum piece that fits on one side into a groove in the left heatsink, and is secured to the bottom on the other side by 2 screws. The drive appeared to be glued to the metal piece, but it's actually a friction sticky fit against pieces of what appear to be something like sorbothane pads. The stuff is soft, mushy and very tacky, especially when warm.

Mushy soft pads on top...

Sorbothane is a patented viscoelastic material for minimizing the effects of shock and vibration. Hush Technologies did not say exactly what the material was, but stated that it has not only dampening qualities but is also a good heat conductor. Not surprisingly, another pair of pads were found between the drive and the chassis bottom panel.

...and below the hard drive.

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