AOpen XC Cube EX915: 775-socket SFF barebones

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Dec 1, 2004 by Mike Chin with Jordan Menu in the lab

Product
AOpen XC Cube EX915
Manufacturer
AOpen
Selling Price
~US$320

Jordan Menu has been helping out in the SPCR lab for the last couple of months with equipment testing and various ongoing projects. In his final year at Langara College in Vancouver, Jordan is self taught with computers, having built about 20 machines for family and friends. He provide tech support for a couple of businesses as well. Jordan loves case and system modding and has modded his personal computer to near inaudible levels.

- Mike Chin, Editor / Publisher, SPCR

Like AMD's socket A, the Intel socket 478 will soon become history, to be displaced by the socket LGA775 (also called socket T). Everyone knows by now that the new Intel socket reverses the placement of the contact pins between CPU and motherboard. Historically, they have always belonged on the CPU. With socket T, the pins have been moved to the motherboard and the CPU now sports rows of tiny round flat copper contacts.


Pins turned into buttons on the CPU...


...and pins sprouted in the motherboard socket.

Intel cites many positive reasons for the change, the most important of these being the number of CPU failures and returns directly attributable to damaged pins. They claim the new system will dramatically reduce the number of such returns. To ensure success, Intel has even produced a downloadable video to show you how to install a 775 processor. Whether the motherboard makers experience an increase in returns due to damaged pins on the boards is a question that can only be answered in time.

Socket T boards and barebones systems have been in production since midyear. Our first close look at one is the XC Cube EX915, AOpen's first 915 chipset 775-socket Small Form Factor (SFF) barebones PC. As with the XC Cube EZ65 we previously reviewed, it's an attractive package, small to average size for a SFF PC, packed with many features.

The cosmetics are bolder than the pearly white of our EZ65 review sample, but still understated and elegant. It is all sleek techno sliver and black, with a unique, curved fine-perforated silver facia. Visual appeal is always personal; I find it quite attractive.

Despite the change in chipsets from 865 to 915 between the EZ65 and the EX915, the basic chassis remains the same. The dimensions and the layout are very similar, and some of the same components are used, notably the power supply. This is a good thing. It's a nice compact frame with proportions that are pleasant to the eye and acoustics that, in the EZ65, are very good for a SFF.

One very good reason for the similarity in case and internal layout is that AOpen does a mix and match of technology and style. They have four case designs, all with the same dimensions. The location and size of the side vents appear to be similar but perhaps not identical; they may vary with the motherboard.

AOpen's XC Cube "Body" Lineup
EZ
EA
EX
EY

There are several platforms to choose from. The differences between some of them are subtle. You will want to check AOpen's XC Cube product pages for full details.

Code #
Chipset
CPU socket
PSU
915
Intel 915G / ICH6
Socket T LGA775
275W
661
SiS661FX / SiS964
Socket 478
275W
661L
SiS661FX / SiS964L
Socket 478
220W
65-II
Intel 865G / ICH5
Socket 478
275W
65PE
Intel 865PE / ICH5
Socket 478
220W
65
Intel 865G / ICH5
Socket 478
220W
18
nForce2-GT / MCP-T
Socket A
220W


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