AOpen XC Cube EX915: 775-socket SFF barebones

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As with most SFF barebones systems, the AOpen EX915 comes in a handy colorful box that's easy for you to carry away from the store. It contains two small boxes containing no fewer than three different kinds of AC cords (for different countries), colorful manuals and quick guides in multiple languages, as well as the usual software and driver CDs. It really is quite user friendly so that even a novice should feel comfortable assemble a system with this barebones. Considering Shuttle's comment in our recent interview that only 1-2% of the PC market are capable or interested in assembling their own PCs, all this user friendliness is probably very important.


Obligatory handy retail box.


Parts and instructions in enough languages to conquer the consequences of the Tower of Babel.

SPECIFICATIONS & FEATURES

AOpen cites the following specifications for the EX915.

Model
EX915
Comment
Size WDH(mm)
320(W)x200(D)x185(H)mm
Same as EZ65
Chipset
Intel 915G / ICH6
Memory
Type
DDRx2 (DUAL CH)
DDR
333/400
CPU
Type
Socket T LGA775
FSB
533/800
VGA
Chip
OnDie
Intel GMA 900
Port
x1
S.Video
None
PCI slot
x1
PCI Express x16
x1
Sound
CHIP
AC97 5.1CH
OK
LAN
SPEED
10/100/1000
1000!
ATA Connector
ATA100x1
Limitation of chipset
SATA Connector
SATAx4
Part of chipset. 4 seems overkill for a SFF
USB 2.0
2(Rear) / 2(Front) / 4(Internal)
very complete
IEEE1394
1(Rear) / 2(Front) (6/4pins)
very complete
Drive bays
5.25"
1
3.5"
1
HDD
1
Power Supply
275W (w/8cmFAN)
275W is pretty big for SFF

The chipset is said to be the Intel 915G, but it is likely to be the 915GV, which included the Intel GMA 900 integrated video. This is one of several differences from the AOpen EZ65, which featured the Intel Extreme Graphics 2 integrated video. On paper, GMA 900 is a big improvement over the IEG2 video. This newer GMA 900 is still not quite the equal of integrated VGA in nVidia2 or ATI 9100 chipsets, however. (See this Hardware Central article for a more detailed discussion of GMA 900.)

Still on the topic of video cards, there is no AGP slot; the 915 chipset incorporates the PCI Express X16 video slot.

The power supply looks the same as the one in the EZ65, but it is rated at 275W, considerably more than the 220W of the EZ65. This is in anticipation of higher power demand from P4 Prescott core CPUs in LGA775.

With the EZ65, AOpen had a document that specified noise at idle with a "typical configuration" to be 28.4 dBA in the Operator Position as defined by ISO 9296 (mic place about 60 cm from the front). I could find no acoustic specifications for the EX915.

Other features:

  • EzWinFlash allows BIOS updates in Windows for simplicity and convenience.
  • JukeBox turns the XC Cube into a full-function CD player that turns on almost instantly because the software loads before Windows, just past the boot.


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