At the rear you’ll find a full range of audio ports including optical digital input and output, coaxial digital output, mic, line-in, line-out and three more outputs for full 7.1-channel surround. Being that there’s a standard AOpen motherboard inside the case, you get a full array of on-board ports – there are two PS/2 ports, four USB 2.0, two serial ports, a parallel port and a network port for the on-board Gigabit Ethernet controller. There are only two backing plate slots for expansion cards and they are both occupied. One is filled by the graphics card – an ATI Radeon 9600XT with D-SUB and DVI connectors, while the other is filled with a digital TV tuner card. The latter is a great addition and will allow you to watch all the Freeview channels with a clear and sharp image. The inclusion of a DAB tuner reinforces the Hush’s credentials as a stylish entertainment PC, but unfortunately the lack of a remote control for the tuner if a bit of a problem – you’re not going to want to plug a keyboard and mouse in every time you want to watch TV after all. That said, the card does make the Hush a great device for watching and recording your favourite TV shows, and you can buy a version of the Hush ATX that does come with a remote.
The Radeon 9600 XT also sports ViVo functionality so you’ll be able to record analogue video signals too from older camcorders or from satellite boxes. There’s a supplied cable with both S-Video and composite video in and out, along with an S-Video cable for connecting the Hush to your TV.
Access to the inside of the case is granted by removing six machined screws that require a special tool. The tool is supplied with the system and is made of plastic to ensure that you don’t inadvertently scratch your Hush work of art. Once you lift the cover you’ll realise that the expert design continues within the chassis. Of course there’s no CPU fan, instead there’s a heatsink complete with a large heatpipe that’s routed to the side of the case for heat dissipation through the fins. There’s also a passive heatsink on the motherboard chipset with a heatpipe routed to the other side of the case. Of course the fan has been removed from the graphics card and replaced with, yep you guessed it, a heatsink and heatpipe assembly with the heatpipe routed to the side of the chassis.
The hard disk is encased in a sound-reducing enclosure that’s also mounted to the side of the case while the fanless power supply sits beneath it, making sure that all excess heat is routed through those pretty fins on the outside.
A real indication of innovation is the way that the graphics card and TV tuner are attached. Both cards plug into a single riser card – the riser card in turn slides into the AGP slot and the adjacent PCI slot, allowing both cards to communicate with their correct connectors, while at the same time being turned 90 through degrees.
Because the power supply is mounted at the front of the system instead of the rear, the external power cable is plugged into a remote socket. Power is then routed to the PSU via a braided cable, to ensure as little interference as possible.
The AOpen motherboard has four DIMM slots, two of which were filled with 256MB modules. Although we like to see PCs with 1GB of memory these days, considering the target market for the Hush, we weren’t too worried about the memory complement. Hiding under the CPU heatsink was a 2.6GHz Pentium 4, but Hush has now dropped this chip from its range and will be offering a 2.8GHz Pentium 4 instead.