AOpen XC Cube AV EA65 Review - AOpen XC Cube AV EA65 IIa 2.0 Review

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Around the back are two PS/2 ports, a serial and parallel port, a D-SUB connector for the integrated graphics, optical and coaxial S/PDIF output, a six pin FireWire port and two USB 2.0 ports. Finally there’s a connector for the onboard Gigabit Ethernet controller and three 3.5mm audio connectors for the onboard 5.1-channel audio. A flap on the front hides a further two USB 2.0 ports, a six and a four pin FireWire connector, another optical S/PDIF output and a headphone and microphone connector.


The integrated graphics power of the 865G chipset is decidedly lack lustre, so the inclusion of an AGP slot is welcome. This is the only expansion option as the TV-tuner takes up the PCI slot. There are only two memory slots, which is standard on most SFF systems. The supplied CPU cooler is the same one that AOpen has used with several other of its SFF barebones and is easy to install. It can be controlled through the BIOS as well as via the supplied Windows application, to keep the noise level at a minimum.


There are however, a few things that could be tweaked and the most apparent one is the cable routing. AOpen has tried to keep things tidy, but there are just too many cables running from the back of the case toward the front. The optical drive flap – as with many other similar constructions – tends to catch on the drive tray as it retracts, which is annoying and might damage the tray after a time. But the real downside is the lack of native TV out. However, you can purchase a riser card that fits in the AGP slot that adds S-Video and composite vide outputs, but this should have come standard. You should be able use pretty much any graphics cards with TV-out, but it is not guaranteed to work with the InstantON software.


It’s not designed for office work or gaming but to give you an indication of how well it performs I ran our standard benchmarks. We used a 2.6GHz Pentium 4 paired with 1GB of PC3200 memory and a Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 SATA hard drive.


In this specific configuration the XC Cube AV EA65-IIa 2.0 produced an overall SYSMark 2004 score of 140. Certainly not fast but plenty good enough for most media playback. There were no problems playing back any of the files I tried, although HD video will use up a lot of the CPU power and you’d need more for flawless 1080 HD. PCMark 2004 came in with an overall score of 2926. It seems like it’s the integrated graphics that hampers some of the performance here as the graphics score was a low 759.


At £191.27 the XC Cube AV EA65-IIa 2.0 isn’t a bargain but it is affordable. You do get quite a lot for your money and the XC Cube AV EA65-IIa 2.0 is a pretty good looking SFF system. It’s definitely not for the power user, but as a second PC this is a really good little machine.


”’Verdict”’


Although it’s not perfect I like the AOpen XC Cube AV EA65-IIa 2.0. It has a lot on offer especially if you’re looking for an entertainment device. AOpen need to supply the TV-out card as part of the package as without it you can’t connect it to most consumer displays which defeats its purpose.

Score


Score in detail

  • Value 8
  • Performance 8