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The black, brushed-metal case is a little larger than a stack of CD jewel cases, measuring just 6.5 inches square and 2.3 inches high. The top is slightly bowed, not flat like the Mac Mini, and the front panel has a power button/indicator light and an eject button for the slot-fed DVD burner. It's not as elegant as the Mini, but it's not garish by any means.
Besides a standard DVI connection on the back (the system includes a DVI-to-VGA adapter), there's also what AOpen calls a Multi-TV output, which is a dongle connection with S-Video, composite-video, and component-video outs. Three audio jacks provide standard mic-in, line-in, and line-out connections, with one jack doubling as an S/PDIF out. A Microsoft Media Center remote is also included.
You access the chassis by popping off the plastic top of the case, then removing four tiny screws that hold the DVD burner in place. It's harder to get inside than many other small-form-factor cases we've looked at, but once you remove the optical drive, you can then add your own hard drive, RAM, and Socket M 479 CPU. You'll need laptop versions of these parts--in this case a single SO-DIMM and a 2.5-inch PATA hard drive. Being a bare-bones system, as opposed to just a case, the AOpen MiniPC Duo MP945-VXR already has a motherboard (a standard Intel 945GM chipset), a power supply, and a CPU heat sink and fan built in.
Unlike the latest Apple iMacs, the current round of Mac Minis do not support Core 2 Duo CPUs (just Core Duo), so DIY types who want the very latest CPUs in their ultra-small-form-factor system can, for a change, have a clone that's even more powerful than the original.