Computer mini-systems have become very popular during the last year. You can see it by the sheer quantity of such computers available in shops as well as in the product lists of various manufacturers who offer you barebone or Small Form-Factor PCs. The pioneer in the field, Shuttle, is now probably mostly known for its mini-systems rather than mainboards, although mainboards were the company’s main products just a year or two ago.
The arrival of mini-systems was provoked by the changes in the structure of the PC market. Computers today serve not only enthusiasts or gamers. A majority of PCs is used as office or home computers for processing text documents and spreadsheets, listening to music, watching video, and surfing the Internet. Oftentimes, small and stylish-looking systems with enough opportunities for peripherals connection are preferable to full-size “towers” stuffed with powerful and expensive components.
That’s why we, at X-bit labs, have to pay more attention to mini-systems and review them more often. You are now reading one of these reviews devoted to another representative of the Small Form-Factor PC class, AOpen XCcube EX65.
The “cube” form-factor introduced by the founder of the genre, Shuttle, proved to be highly successful. Most barebone systems come today in this form-factor, which has become a de facto standard. The AOpen XCcube EZ65 is another variation on the topic, so I can’t avoid drawing parallels with Shuttle’s products. It doesn’t mean, however, that every “cube” in the market is an analogous to the SFF PC from Shuttle. Every company tries to bring something new and exclusive into the design of their mini-systems. The barebone from AOpen also offers a couple of interesting innovations that might be quite useful after some improvements. Let’s not guess though, but examine the features of the AOpen XCcube EZ65 one by one.