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AOpen XC Cube EY65
AOpen is not a name associated with small form factor barebone systems, or at least that was the case until very recently. AOpen has launched a wide range of XC Cubes that are outwardly very stylish and desirable. The EY65, also known as the ‘Yuppie’ cube in some regions is the smallest and newest addition to a fast growing family.
The exterior finish of the EY65 is far superior to any other SFF system I have encountered with a smooth aluminium casing that makes some of its competitors look truly old fashioned. AOpen has done an excellent job with the chassis and has paid a lot of attention to the small details. But good looks don’t necessarily make a great PC so let’s take a closer look at what’s inside the EY65.
Unusually AOpen supplies a small stand that’s attached to the front of the EY65, making it lean backwards just slightly. There’s no practical reason for this feature, but it does give the EY65 a distinctive look.
The motherboard fitted inside the EY65 is, as with all SFF systems a special form factor and designed specifically for the chassis. AOpen has done a reasonable job here incorporating a wide range of features, but more thought could have been given to the internal design, especially compared to the innards of the Biostar i-DEQ. That is not to say that that EY65 is untidy inside, but most of the pre-fitted cabling is attached to the internal structure with cable ties. This makes for a slightly untidy look and the IDE cables are not pre-fitted, which adds to the internal clutter.
However, my biggest gripe in terms of cabling is not any of the aforementioned issues, but rather the cables that are routed from the rear of the motherboard to the front of the case for the front mounted connectors. This is, in my opinion the biggest downfall of the internal design as the cables will obstruct some of the airflow in the case, which is not good in a chassis so small. It also makes it look a bit messy inside. Other manufacturers have avoided this problem by positioning the connectors on the motherboard close to where they’re needed.
One other aspect of the construction that could potentially cause problems is the way the CPU cooler is fitted. Strangely the CPU cooler blows the hot air from the CPU across the PCI and AGP slot. This might not seem like a big deal until you fit a high-end graphics card in the EY65 and realise that instead of the hot air from the graphics card being dispersed inside the case, it has even more hot air hitting it from the CPU. There are however large air vents on each side of the case which should allow for the hot air to escape the case quickly.
On a more positive note, the hard drive mounting cradle is fitted in a very clever way, using two slightly angled slots into which you slide the drive. This makes it very easy to fit the hard drive and AOpen has managed to save some space due to this clever design.