As we just mentioned, the ICE Cube VL67 is based on Intel’s 865G chipset. This is Intel’s dual-channel chipset for the mainstream market with support for the latest DDR memories. The key differentiating factor between it and Intel’s 875P “Canterwood” chipset is Intel’s Performance Acceleration Technology, otherwise known as PAT. PAT improves performance by accelerating the timings within the North Bridge of the chipset, in some applications by as much as 5-8%.
A few motherboard manufacturers have integrated their own PAT-like enhancements to their 865 products, yielding 875P performance at a significantly lower price point. Unfortunately, FIC has elected not to incorporate enhancements of its own in their 865 products, including the ICE Cube VL67. Fortunately, the board performs on par with more conventional ATX 865PE motherboards (including Shuttle’s SB61G2) despite its diminutive size.
If you’re familiar with the ICE Cube VG61, the VL67 should look familiar to you, as the chassis design is practically identical. To keep the weight of the system down, the frame is constructed of aluminum. FIC tops the case off with an integrated handle, making the VL67 the perfect choice for the LAN party gamer: just grab the handle and go! When you combine this with the lightweight aluminum chassis, transporting the ICE Cube is painless. The VL67 and VG61 are the only small form-factor systems we’re aware of with this feature.
Handle for carrying the VL67
Blue motherboard PCB
The sides of the case are removable via thumbscrews, so you can get into the system without tools. In fact, case windows on both sides of the chassis are present, so you can see into the systems innards. For an added level of decorative flair, the fan on the North Bridge of the chipset is equipped with a blue LED, as is the CPU fan. This gives the inside of the system a light blue glow at all times, which is sure to attract even more attention (especially if you put the VL67 on your desk).
One drawback of the VL67’s chassis however is its dated look. The front panel is composed of the same clear plastic as the ICE Cube VG61 and Shuttle’s first generation XPC designs. As a result, when you line the VL67 next to a newer small form-factor system like the SB61G2 (which features a brushed aluminum front panel), the VL67 looks like a toy. Biostar and ABIT’s small form factor systems also have doors covering the 5.25” and 3.5” drives; unfortunately the VL67 doesn’t have this.
Of course, keep in mind that this is highly subjective, what looks good to one person may look terrible to another. The translucent plastic front panel of the ICE Cube VL67 is definitely more durable; anyone who has owned an aluminum case knows that they’re more prone to knicks and scratches, something that’s easy to do during a large LAN party.