The first reaction of someone not familiar with SFF PCs usually is ‘is that small PC able to do all the things a normal PC does?’ and we can answer that question with a resoundingly ‘yes’. In fact SFF PCs simply make better use of the available space and are generally better engineered than their full sized brethren, or sisters for that matter. In a typical mid-tower PC for example a lot of cubic inches, or centimeters, are wasted just boxing up air. If we remove all of this excess room and line up the internal peripherals you’ll see why SFF PCs can be that small. Granted, the one thing that sets it clearly apart from a normal PC is that fact that a SFF PC uses a much smaller motherboard, with a limited number of expansion slots. So from a performance perspective there’s no reason why a SFF PC shouldn’t perform as well as a normal PC.
Fig 5. A look at the PCI and AGP slots and the removable harddisk tray of the XC cube.
In evaluating the XC cube we used a number of different configurations, including the use of a top-of-the-line 3.2GHz Intel Pentium 4 processor, a fast 160GB Seagate Barracuda harddisk and ATi’s Radeon 9800XT videocard. When compared to a full size PC of similar configuration the XC cube did not disappoint, and performance was just as good, or only slightly below that of the full size PC. Naturally you won’t be able to build a system with a raid array of harddrives or multiple cdrom/cdrw/dvd drives as that simply wouldn’t fit, so there’s a limit, but overall the XC cube should not disappoint in terms of performance. Mounting more than the specified number of devices wouldn’t really work on a SFF PC either, as the 220-watts power supply is only rated to handle the specified configuration of a harddisk, cdrom/cdrw/dvd drive, floppy drive, processor and memory, and AGP videocard and if needed an extra PCI card.
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