Soon we're going to start losing them down the back of the sofa.
The small form factor (SFF) PC has been one of the success stories of recent years, quite frankly because, unless you are a modder, the reality is you don’t really need a huge beige box cluttering up your room. AOpen has been one of the companies at the forefront of this revolution and the latest offering in its XC Cube range looks to be another step in the right direction.
The picture above is not deceptive: the MZ855 is small, in fact it is very small. At just 200mm wide, 106mm high and 320mm long it is the teeniest XC Cube model yet and at barely tips the scale at 1.85Kg.
For a small box, however, it packs a reasonable punch. Obviously, we are not talking benchmark breaking potential here, but it is based around the Intel 855GME chipset which means it can handle either the Intel Banjas or Dothan Pentium M processors. DDR333MHz RAM and Dual UltraATA100 hard drive support are also part of the package, though graphics are limited to Intel’s Extreme Graphics 2 integrated solution.
As far as connectivity option go you’ll get two USB2.0 ports, two Firewire, one S/PDIF video output, one mic, one earphone connector and a 9-in-1 card reader. When you buy a case this size it is normally to go in a prominent position so noise is all important. To this end, AOpen claims when operating at full load the MZ855 should not exceed 22db (which it classifies as barely audible at a distance of 60cm).
Should you need more space, the MZ855 has a companion by the name of the MZ850e, an expansion box which can be stacked above or below the main unit. It has space for two 5.25in bays (important if disk to disk copying plays a big role for you) and comes with two more USB2.0 ports. In addition, the MZ850e can be used to accommodate SATA hard drives, an audio amplifier, speakers, online power supply or cooling equipment.
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No word on availability or pricing yet but, as a rule, AOpen doesn’t tend to announce products too far ahead of release. Oh and nice dogs in the middle photo (I love Golden Retrievers).