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AOpen seems to be a firm believer in the small form factor (SFF) and has released a wider range of systems than anyone else, bar Shuttle of course. This latest creation from AOpen differs from the ones we’ve seen in the past, not only because it’s using a Pentium M platform, but also because it’s about half the height of previous SFF systems we’ve seen from AOpen. The MZ915-M is one of the smallest SFF systems currently available and measures in at an impressively tiny 200 x 106 x 320mm (WxHxD).
This brings with it certain layout problems, like were to fit the PSU. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that an external PSU is the best solution to this problem and this is just what AOpen has done. The power brick is similar in size to that of high-end laptops and takes up a fair bit of space. Rather than using a proprietary connector to allow for 12, 5 and 3.3V to be supplied to the system unit, AOpen has fitted an internal power converter that turns the 19V feed into suitable voltages.
In general use with a 2.13GHz Pentium M 770 processor, 1GB of DDR2 memory and a SATA hard drive fitted the MZ915-M never used more than about 60W of power – with a Windows desktop power draw of around 45W. So if nothing else it’s very cheap to run in terms of electricity costs. It is also very quiet with only a single fan – on the CPU cooler – which is thermally controlled by the BIOS.
Lifting on the lid you’re greeted by a very cramped interior that is quite hard to work inside, due to the power converter being placed on top of the system. This is not completely removable either, due to it being tied up with cable ties and connected to the various power points inside the case. The processor is easy enough to fit and the CPU cooler is clipped in place in the same way as with previous XC Cubes. It’s slightly more difficult to fit the hard disk and optical drive – you need a slim line laptop style optical drive due to the small dimensions of the MZ915 – but the removable drive caddy makes this easier than it could’ve been.