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Closer Look

The color of the AOpen XCcube EZ65 seems to have been chosen on purpose. Barebone systems and “grown-up” PCs usually have silver or black cases with front panels of various colors. The XCcube has a case painted white and lacquered. In other words, it looks more like a refrigerator, microwave oven or washing machine. The manufacturer obviously wanted to emphasize that this device is closer to simple and plain household appliances rather than to sophisticated computers. The disadvantages of such painting were soon to show up. The colored coating of the case easily peels off from the aluminum surface. So, you should be careful when handling the AOpen XCcube EZ65 in order not to hurt its virginal whiteness.

The AOpen XCcube EZ65 resembles the systems from Shuttle in its dimensions, there’s only a difference of half a centimeter in depth and height. This similarity has led to a similar placement of the internal components.

The front panel of the AOpen XCcube EZ65 is made of white plastic. There are a massive Power on/off button and a HDD activity LED in the center. The power on/off button is highlighted with blue around the rim. AOpen made sure that the installed optical and hard drive or card-reader not to spoil the appearance of the front panel – the bays that are accessed from outside are covered with lids. These lids are not well fitted into the bays, though, and leave those not very nicely looking slits around the perimeter. There is also the indispensable Eject button next to the lid of the optical drive bay.

The front panel connectors are also seated in a separate bay, under a lid. The connectors include two FireWire (6-pin and 4-pin) and two USB 2.0 ports, microphone and headphones mini-jacks and an optical SPDIF output.

By using the lid-covered bays, AOpen made sure the color design of the XCcube’s front panel wouldn’t be spoiled by installation of optical or floppy drives of any color. That’s a big advantage of this barebone system. I only regret the lack of the Reset button. Yes, you rarely use it now, but it’s still necessary in some situations. Note also that the AOpen XCcube EZ65 comes without a floppy drive or card-reader we often find included with barebones from other manufactures.

Let’s now rotate the thing by 180 degrees to look straight at its back panel.

So, we have got the back panel of the PSU with a plug for the power cable, a switch between 110V / 230V input voltage, and an 80mm cooler. The connectors panel of the mainboard carries 3 audio mini-jacks, an RJ-45 network connector, two High-Speed USB ports, an optical SPDIF input and coaxial SPDIF output, a 6-pin FireWire connector, serial and parallel ports, two PS/2 ports for the mouse and keyboard and a D-Sub video output.

I consider this set of connectors satisfying for a modern computer system. You can even use the LPT (parallel) port, which many barebone manufacturers simply omit. This port serves not only to connect older printers; there is software that uses hardware HASP keys, which should be plugged exactly into the LPT port. Meanwhile, this set of connectors is deficient in some respects. First of all, it may be not enough for a modern computer system to have only four USB 2.0 ports. Although the connectors panel of the mainboard has some free space left, AOpen gave up the implementation of all six USB ports supported by the chipset. Secondly, I have been long waiting for a barebone with DVI and TV outputs. For some mysterious reason, the manufacturers very rarely equip their barebones with these connectors. The AOpen XCcube EZ65 lacks the two, too. Moreover, AOpen doesn’t even offer any daughter cards with DVI and TV-out ports that would certainly increase the functionality of this platform.

 
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