An adapter is provided for the optical drive to work with a standard IDE connector and a floppy style power connector is used for powering it. AOpen even supplies a replacement front that should fit most slim line drives, apart from the slot-in type which I happened to have at hand. The replaceable front matches the colour of the MZ915-M and if you can’t fit it to your drive AOpen has supplied a couple of strips of tape with the correct colour that can be used instead.
A word of warning here, you can only use a SATA hard drive if you fit an optical drive, as there is only a single IDE header and the cable supplied for the optical drive only has one connector. For those that don’t find the integrated Intel 915GM graphics sufficient for their needs a single x16 PCI Express slot can be used, allowing you to push higher frame rates. However, it’s not easy to find half height graphics cards – that said AOpen has suitable 6200 and 6600 cards that could be used. A single PCI slot is also available, again half height.
Looking around the back of the system you realise that the MZ915-M offers a wide range of connectivity options. There are two PS/2 ports for keyboard and mouse, single serial and parallel ports, a D-SUB connector for the integrated graphics as well as a TV-out connector which allows for composite, S-Video and component video output via a small dongle. Add to this two USB 2.0 ports, an Ethernet connector for the onboard Gigabit Ethernet controller, a six-pin FireWire connector and six audio jacks for the onboard 7.1-channel Intel High Definition Realtek ALC880 controller – one of the 3.5mm jacks doubles up as optical S/PDIF input. It’s a shame that AOpen didn’t include a DVI connector, as this would have allowed for better image quality if you’d wanted to connect the MZ915-M to an LCD or plasma display.
Behind a flap on the front of the system are a further two USB 2.0 ports, six-pin and a four-pin FireWire connectors, headphone and microphone sockets and an optical S/PDIF out. On the left hand side is another flap that hides two memory card readers – a first on an XC Cube – that accept various CompactFlash, SD, MMC, SmartMedia and MemoryStick formats.