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Inside the Hush Silent Mini-ITX PC
Posted on April 22, 2003

Click to launch image viewer

The M9000 inside the case is no ordinary EPIA M board - it has had the standard heatsink and fan removed and a meaty heatsink and heatpipe arrangement fitted to the board by pushpins (and thermal paste no doubt) instead. It would be a non-trivial (and warranty voiding) procedure to fit this ourselves, so luckily Hush have done it for us.

Click to launch image viewer

A better view of the rear of the case, which has a wealth of outputs - in direct contrast to the front of the case. 3 kinds of video output, 6 channels of sound, 4 USB 2.0 outputs and more... all the connectors the EPIA M motherboard has with a PCI panel fitted.


Click to launch image viewer

Power is provided with the ubiquitous 110-240V, 55W laptop "brick" power supply that also drives the Cubid cases. In a PC, there is a large current draw on startup from most components, but 55W is acceptable when a slimline optical drive is used in place of a full size unit. The advantage of the "brick" is worldwide compatibility, and of course silent operation.

Click to launch image viewer

The slimline combo drive and matching front.

Click to launch image viewer

We tried to take a decent photo of the gorgeous blue power switch, but this is the best we could manage. Our camera got stolen at CeBIT, so we had to borrow an unfamiliar one. We continue a fine tradition and blame our tools.

Click to launch image viewer

The case has four substantial rubber ended aluminium feet - very welcome.

In Use

The Hush PC is whisper quiet. With a monitor unplugged, the only way we could tell it was on was by looking at the blue LED on the power switch. Even on startup, there was no clunking or whirring. If we put our ear directly up to the side of the case we could just about hear the hard drive. Even the slimline drive hardly made a noise. The case gets moderately warm during operation, but of course it would.

The included EPIA M9000 motherboard is powerful enough to playback DVDs and most DivXes, has 6 channel sound and can output to a TV and VGA monitor. Apart from the heatsink modification it is a standard M9000 and has the same strengths and weaknesses as the retail board. We'd like better Linux support, improved TV output quality, dedicated graphics memory and MPEG4 decoding in hardware, but these are specific issues with the EPIA M boards in general and not with the Hush. The Nehemiah version may improve things slightly, but it will be some months before VIA release a board that can playback *all* video content without dropped frames or losing sound sync occasionally. Those (admittedly rare) AC3 high bitrate DivXes need yet more processing muscle and will have to be viewed on that noisy Athlon or Pentium for now, and we won't even attempt to play Planetside on this machine when it is eventually released.

Conclusion

The Hush must be the best looking PC to date. Even in gold it looked excellent - we just need to find a gold-enamel monitor, keyboard and mouse to match. We don't expect to hear of many people "modding" this case - the only way you could mod this is by encrusting it with diamonds.

For 95% of standard PC tasks the Hush Mini-ITX PC performs admirably - office applications, file and webserving, DVD and MP3 playback all can be achieved for the first time in complete silence. The case is airtight - no dust can disturb the components and there are no fans inside to eventually clog up and get even louder.

The Hush has set a new benchmark in silent computing. Owning a piece of history comes at a price - it's not cheap, but then such things rarely are. From now on all quiet PCs will be compared to it.

Hush Mini-ITX PC Gallery

All the pictures in this review and more now showing in the Gallery

*Shameless plug* You can buy the Hush from the Mini-ITX Online Store!



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