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An alluminating look
If I had to describe the EY855-II in a word, it would be aluminumy. OK, that's not a word, but take a look and you'll get the idea.

The front, top and sides of the EY855-II share the same finish. It's not brushed aluminum like some of the Shuttle cubes, but more of a satin finish. Let's take a closer look.

Here you can see the stealth optical driver cover (complete with mirrored eject button) as well as the power button and front ports. The black rectangle in the center is simply a cover for the external 3.5" bay. From left to right, there is an optical digital out, headphone/line out, microphone in, two USB 2.0 ports, and two Firewire ports (one full-size, one mini). The power button is black plastic, but the "power logo" (you know, the circle and line) inside it lights up blue when the system is on. Below the power button is another blue LED to indicate hard drive access. In a welcome change, these LEDs are very subdued compared to the typical set-your-retinas-afire blue LEDs.

Moving around to the back, you can see that the back face is dominated by the power supply and its fan. Below that is a rather rare feature on SFF systems these days: a parallel port. At the bottom are the audio outputs, mouse and keyboard connectors, serial and VGA ports, and the Gigabit Ethernet port. Also present are a coaxial digital out, an optical digital in, two USB 2.0 ports and a Firewire port. The right side is home to the slot covers for the PCI and AGP slots.

Speaking of those slots, the mechanism to secure the cards is an interesting one. You remove the screw on the right side and the cover pivots up around the left screw. This gives you plenty of room to install the cards, and then you just swing the cover back down and secure it with a single screw. I like the idea, but on my review unit at least, when an AGP card was installed, it was difficult to push the cover down into place.