Aopen EZ65 vs. Biostar iDEQ 200T

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Aopen EZ65 vs. Biostar iDEQ 200T - Page 2

The AOpen EZ65 & Biostar iDEQ 200T
Shuttle Isn't the Only OEM Making SFF Systems...

By, Marco Chiappetta
December 16, 2003
 

Assembling the AOpen EZ65 was relatively easy, and very straightforward.  Mount the drives, and insert the memory, CPU and video card, and all that's left is connecting a few cables and powering on the system.  Working inside these small enclosures can be a little rough because the components are so cramped, but the EZ65's layout was good, and there are conduits that can be used to neatly route all of the wiring.  As you'll see a little later, the EZ65's internals are not as clean as the iDEQ's, but AOpen does a slightly better job than Shuttle keeping all of the cables tidy and clutter free.

Setup & Layout of the AOpen EZ65 SFF PC
Interesting, Very Interesting

Our first impression of AOpen's EZ65 case was very good.  The contemporary design, and glossy finish make the system look less like a computer and more like some sort of retro-appliance.  There are three folding covers on the front of the system that hide the external connectors and drive bays, and the power button is encircled by a blue ring that illuminates when the system is powered up.  The EZ65 is an eye-catching piece of hardware; our pictures here definitely don't do it justice.

   

 

Front Panel
  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • 1 x S/PDIF input
  • 1 x Microphone
  • 1 x Headphone
  • 2 x IEEE 1394A
  • Illuminated Power Switch
  • Reset Switch
  • HD LED
Back panel
  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • 1 x S/PDIF output
  • 1 x IEEE 1394A
  • 1 x LAN
  • 1 x Parallel Port
  • 1 x VGA
  • 1 x Serial
  • 2 x PS/2
  • 1 x Line-in
  • 1 x Line-out
  • 1 x Mic
  • 1 x Composite Video Out

Folding down the lowest cover on the front of the case reveals an S/PDIF input, a headphone jack, a microphone jack, two USB 2.0 ports and two IEE-1394 connectors (6 pin & 4 pin).  The back of the EZ65 was somewhat "busier".  There, you'll find PS/2 mouse and keyboard ports, a single serial port, a DB15 monitor connector, a composite video out "RCA-Type" connector, an IEEE-1394 port, 4 audio related ports (S/PDIF, Line-In, Line-Out and Microphone), two more USB 2.0 ports, an Ethernet connector and lastly a parallel port, something that's missing from most other SFF systems.

     

     

When we opened the EZ65, we found the system's internal layout to be very good.  The AGP and PCI slots are positioned like most other SFF systems, and have nothing obstructing their path, so squeezing longer expansion cards into the EZ65 shouldn't be a problem.  Dual-slot video cards like a GeForce FX 5950 Ultra are out of the question, however, without doing some serious shoe-horning!  Most of the wiring is routed along the edges of the enclosure, will the exceptions of the 12v power lead and two thin cables connected to the USB and IEEE-1394 headers.  The DIMM slots are situated under the hard drive cage, running from one side of the system to the other, but there was plenty of room to insert and remove RAM.

The EZ65's cooling scheme seemed well thought out, virtually silent, and also seemed to work well.  The included CPU heatsink has a hefty, copper base, with thin aluminum fins.  The vertically mounted fan blows air across the fins, towards a group of ventilation holes in the side of the case cover.  The Northbridge is passively cooled by a large aluminum heatsink, which actually got quite warm when we overclocked the system.  If you're interested in one of these mini-machines and plan to overclock, it would probably be a good idea to add a 60mm fan to help cool the Northbridge a bit more.  With the system full assembled, at idle we saw temperatures hovering around 35°C (according to the system BIOS), which is very good considering how small this system is.

The AOpen EZ65's BIOS
As Good As We Have Ever Seen

     

     

   

On aspect of the AOpen EZ65 XC Cube that really impressed us was its BIOS.  Yes, it is an Award / Phoenix BIOS, like just about every other BIOS out there, but it was so feature laden, we thought we were looking at the latest "Enthusiast Class" motherboard to hit the lab.  The custom boot screen gives detailed information about clock speeds and voltages, and each of the menus has clearly named options, with concise descriptions.  All of the motherboard's integrated features can be easily enabled or disabled.  It seems AOpen was proud of the EZ65's BIOS as well; why else would the design team put their names on a "Credits" page, right!

Overclocking Experience:

     

     

The overclocking options available within the EZ65's BIOS were some of the best we have seen.  Under the "Frequency / Voltage Control" menu, user's can alter not only the CPU's FSB (in 1MHz increments, up to 400MHz), but the AGP, PCI and memory clocks can be fine tuned as well!  All of the voltage tweaks overclockers crave were also available within the EZ65's BIOS.  The CPU core voltage can be increased up to 1.85v, in .025v increments.  The DDR voltage can raised up to 2.8v, also in .025v increments and the AGP voltage peaks at 1.85v.  Overall, this is one of the most well equipped BIOSes we have ever seen.  Take the time to peruse the screen shots.  You'll be equally as impressed.

                 
SANDRA CPU BENCHMARK                SANDRA CPU BENCHMARK

CPU @ 3.20GHZ                                    CPU @ 3.64GHZ

Having all of the overclocking tools mentioned above, allowed us to push our 3.2GHz P4 well beyond its stock clock speed.  With the voltage jacked up to 1.6v, we started raising the FSB frequency until the system was no longer stable.  Our processor made it all the way to 3.64GHz (16 x 227MHz), which happens to be the maximum speed we've ever been able to hit with this particular CPU with air cooling.

Next Up - The Biostar iDEQ 200T

Tags:  EZ, OS, ios, pen, BIOS, Biostar, Open, id, AR

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