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At Computex Taipei 2005 AOpen, a maker of computer components, is showing off its new PC barebone which design looks very similar to Apple’s Mac mini computer unveiled earlier this year. The new product is designed primarily for those looking for a small personal computer and is built around Intel Centrino hardware.

AOpen’s new XC Cube is even a little smaller than Apple Mac mini computer and looks just like Apple’s smallest offering, even thoug the design of the PC barebone still has some minor differences, according to Anna Filatova, X-bit labs Editor in Chief, who reports from Computex Taipei 2005. One of the differences is a switch button located on the front panel of AOpen’s “cube”, while Apple Mac mini has it on the back side. The box is based on Intel 915GM chipset with integrated DirectX 9.0-supporting graphics core and is designed for Intel Pentium M processors. The barebone features audio, Ethernet, FireWire and USB 2.0 ports.

AOpen "Cube Mini". Photo by PC Watch

AOpen’s “Cube Mini” has internal optical drive, but external power supply unit, just like Apple’s Mac Mini. Still, AOpen’s mini computer is likely to be sold as a barebone, which will let end-users or system builders to configure it according to individual needs without limitations imposed on Mac mini, which is built by Apple Computer in a couple of versions. Furthermore, the market addressed by “Cube Mini” is likely to be larger than that addressed by Apple’s Mac mini, as AOpen’s box is capable or running Microsoft Windows, the world’s most popular desktop operating system.

While AOpen’s “Cube Mini” may potentially deliver higher performance in desktop PC applications compared to its rival from Apple Computer, it may not offer really high performance in graphics intensive software, as ATI RADEON 9200 installed into Apple Mac mini may be faster than Intel GMA900 graphics core used in AOpen’s new XC Cube. It is also unclear whether AOpen will provide a lot of enhancements, such as wireless connectivity, with its Mac mini clone.

AOpen "Cube Mini". Photo by PC Watch

Pricing of AOpen’s new XC Cube is yet to be clear, but it may not be as affordable as Mac mini, which costs $499, due to relatively high pricing of Intel Pentium M processors based on the latest Dothan core.

Apple supplies two versions of its Mac mini PCs at $499 and $599 price-points without display. The more affordable version features 1.25GHz PowerPC G4 processor, 40GB hard disk drive, while the more expensive includes 1.42GHz central processing unit and 80GB HDD. Both Mac mini computers feature 256MB PC2700 memory; ATI RADEON 9200 graphics chip; DVD-ROM/CD-RW combo drive; 10/100Mbps Ethernet; 56K modem; FireWire, USB 2.0 as well as other features. Apple’s CEO insisted that Mac mini was “the most affordable way to enjoy Mac OS X and iLife”.


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