17th Apr 2007 | 23:00
Sweet looks, tiny footprint. It's the Kylie of PC cases!
Shuttle isn't the only company to have a handle on what makes a small form-factor chassis great. We have the occasional effort from Biostar, and while its SFF releases are rare as rocking-horse crap, they're usually pretty good. The long-standing Hoojum chassis (checkout www.scan.co.uk ) is also a runner, though if it's a modern system you want in one of these classy boxes, you're best off getting a micro-ATX board separately.
Aopen's latest effort, the EU965, is quite excellent. As the name suggests, its pre-loaded micro-ATX board carries the Intel 965 chipset which means Core 2 Duo support. And that means all sorts of good stuff. We installed the 2.13GHz E6400, along with 2GB of DDR800, and we saw some lovely crisp performance.
Moreover, it comes with onboard Intel Extreme graphics - no great shakes admittedly, and the only onboard video IO is a VGA port. But a 16-lane PCIE slot goes some way to making up for this. You'll only be able to fit a standard-length, single-slot card in, but with the likes of the X1950 Pro on the market, you're talking about a decent midrange gaming machine on a budget.
Unfortunately, the built-in PSU doesn't natively carry a six-pin PCIE power block. Or a SATA power connector, for that matter! All you get is four molexes, which is somewhat odd, given the modernity of the rest of the system. Still, we managed to get around our connector conundrums with the help of a molex-to-SATA converter cable that came in the box, and a two-molex-to-one six-pin extension from elsewhere. This way, we were able to hook up a SATA drive and a 7900GS 3D card, which ran fine using the splitters.
It'll never be a kick-ass games rig, owing to the lack of space inside. Also, we'd be concerned about hooking a high-end pixel punter up to this box, as 275W isn't a lot of power, and we suspect that it'd wig out with glue-fuelled abandon at the proximity of a power-hungry card. But it can handle midrange single-slotters, making it an ideal media centre PC - it's very quiet indeed, by the way - or a space-saving midrange games rig.