The visual appearance of the
MSI Mega mPC 945 barebone small form factor system is clean and uncluttered. It
doesn't look like a PC, more along the lines of a network attached storage
device, or some really fancy toaster perhaps. This is part of the appeal for us
with the MSI Mega mPC 945 barebones. The unconventional simplicity of design
lends itself to perfect HTPC use.... except that the Intel 945G chipset this
computer is based on really can't carry the full weight of such an application.
With a nice PCI Express videocard installed, one that
happens to support HDMI or component output, the mega mPC 945 would look wicked
next to any DVD or big screen TV system.
Anyhow, the MSI Mega mPC 945 system PCSTATS tested is
based around the Intel 945G chipset, and it comes loaded with the usual
allotment of integrated features. However the mPC 945 is able to stand out
thanks inpart to a miniPCI slot and wireless 802.11b/g network card. Wireless
networking is a rare feature to come integrated into a SFF PC, and with it you
can network the PC from the media center to a main home PC, perhaps one with all
the movies or music on it. Networking without running wires is a nice feature!
The remaining feature include such common traits as Intel High Definition Azalia
7.1 audio, Intel's onboard GMA950 videocard, and a 7-in-1 flash memory card
reader. As of this writting, the MSI Mega mPC 945 retails for about $290 CDN ($260 US, £142), making it a
rather nice SFF barebones to build a system from.
Easy to Use, or a Royal
MSI has done an excellent job
at designing the internals of the mPC 945 chassis - everything clicks together
like clockwork, without the need to any tools. The system operates quietly for
the most part, but during intense loads the fans do become increasingly audible.
For tasks like watching a DVD or a downloaded movie, or listening to music the
fans run pretty quiet.
The performance of the MSI
MEGA mPC 945 system as tested was quite good in office oriented benchmarks, even
with the Intel GMA950 videocard. In gaming benchmarks, the GMA950 is woefully
underpowered and hardly useable. With a GeForce 7800GTX installed the system
handles the games just as good as comparable Intel based motherboards.
The MSI MEGA mPC 945 definitely looks different from
your average SFF PC. Thanks to this fresh approach we can see a whole host of
possibilities for this system when married with a suitably competent videocard
(preferably supporting HDMI or component output), and connected over the Gigabit
ethernet or 802.11g wireless LAN... If you're looking for something simple and
nice to look at, MSI really has come up with a solution worth your
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