Interior Design

Now we get into the real meat and potatoes of the system — after all, a good looking exterior won’t mean squat if you are stuck with 2002s computer hardware, right? 

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AOpen EY855-II  3/4 View – Open case

Here we see the first look at the innards of the new AOpen SFF system.  This shot shows you what kind of space we are looking at in terms of components and upgrading options for a system of this size.  You can see a 4x AGP slot (in blue) and a legacy PCI slot (in yellow) as well as the ICH4M south bridge chip just behind them.  Also viewable are the tops of the power supply and the drive cage.

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AOpen EY855-II  3/4 View – Open case

On the other side of the EY855-II we can see the heatsink for the processor as well as the two DIMM slots that will provide the system with access to memory.  A well routed cabling system keeps things out of view and out of the way of air flow as well. 

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Open view from the top of the case — the power supply and drive cage

Here you can see the top of the relatively small PSU that will be solely responsible for providing the necessary juice for the Pentium M system to run on.  Also towards the top of the image you see the drive bay: it holds a single 3.5″ drive and a single 5.25″ drive in a stacked configuration.  The metal sliders you see at the bottom of the cage are for the hard drive cage that is held below it.

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Removing the drive cage

Taking out the cage and looking directly beneath it, we can now locate two DIMM slots for DDR memory as well as the two IDE channels that will supply us with our sole optical and hard disk support.  That’s right, there are no Serial ATA storage options on this motherboard at all, because of its use of the ICH4M south bridge chip.  The DFI motherboard we reviewed had support for SATA through its use of the 6300ESB south bridge. 

The north bridge 855 chip is covered by a small heatsink, and you can also see most of the processor heatsink.  It has a fan that directs air from the left of the image to the right side of it; this was a little disconcerting at first, as this means the cooler will be directing air from the back of the video card (assuming you have no other PCI card installed), air that is traditionally very warm, across the CPU to cool it.  The alternative would be to take cooler air from the right side of the case and moving it towards the back of the video card, but that would probably cause air turbulance that would even more hinder the cooling process of the case. 

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The hard drive cage, with drive installed

Easily visible here, the hard drive sits below the floppy and CDROM drives, perpendicularly.  In my testing, the drive had to be installed upside down in order for the power cable to reach the drive.  This isn’t an issue though, really.  You can see here too that the cable routing is still done quite efficiently. 

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Tall memory installed

Another concern some might have based on the layout of the system was memory compatibility.  The Corsair Pro modules that I installed and used during testing were the tallest modules (with the expection of the LED based Corsair DIMMs, which would be useless in here anyway) that I have seen to date.  They easily fit below the drive cage with the hard drive installed as well, though you would be much better off installing the memory before the drives, with the drive cage completely removed.

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