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MSI MEGA mPC 945 Barebones Small Formfactor PC Review

MSI MEGA mPC 945 Barebones Small Formfactor PC Review - PCSTATS
Abstract: The MSI MEGA mPC945 system is based around the Intel 945G and Intel ICH7 chipsets and is compatible with all Socket 775 Intel Pentium 4/D/XE, Celeron processors.
 78% Rating:   
Filed under: Computer / SFF PCs Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: MSI Computer Dec 10 2006   Max Page  
Home > Reviews > Computer / SFF PCs > MSI Computer Mega mPC 945

Intel 945G and GMA950 integrated videocard

Intel 945G Express Chipset Feature Breakdown
Intel 945G Express
CPU LGA775 Pentium D
Front Side Bus (FSB) 1066/800/533 MHz
Intel Flex Memory Technology Yes
Dual Channel Memory Support DDR2 667/533/400
Maximum Memory Capacity 4GB
Integrated Graphics GMA 950
PCI Express x16 1
PCI Express x1 4
Intel Matrix Storage Technology Yes
SATA/IDE HDD 4/1
SATA Speed 3Gb/s
RAID 0, 1, 5, 10 (with ICH7R)
Hard Drive NCQ Yes
USB 2.0 Ports 8
PCI Masters 6
Audio High Definition Audio (Azalia)

Intel 945G Express and ICH7 Chipsets

The Intel 945G chipset is Intel's mainstream performance chipset and it supports every Socket 775 processor on the market from the Intel Pentium 4/D/XE, and Celeron D. In this instance the 945G is paired with the venerable Intel ICH7 Southbridge, rather than the updated ICH8 core logic. Given the intended markets the MSI Mega mPC 945 system is suitable towards, RAID 1 would have been a really nice feature if there was space for an additional SATA drive.

Intel has kept DDR2 memory support steady at 667/533MHz with the 945G chipset, putting it at a slight disadvantage to AMD's Socket AM2 Athlon64 processors. Intel calls the new memory controller FMA or 'Fast Memory Access' and it gives the system a maximum theoretical bandwidth of 10.6GB/s with DDR2-667 memory.

Like many mainstream chipsets before it, the Intel 945G incorporates integrated graphics - this time Intel's Graphics Media Accelerator 950. The Intel GMA950 is compatible with both Microsoft WindowsXP and Windows Vista operating systems, and is based on a 400MHz 256-bit graphics core which has up to 10.6GB/s bandwidth. The GMA950 can process 1.6GPixels/s and 1.6GTexels/s while supporting resolutions as high as 2048x1536 at 75Hz. Gaming and 3D performance is adequate at best, and not really comparable to what you would see from a full fledged PCI Express x16 graphics card.

Yet at least the Intel GMA950 is DirectX9 / OpenGL1.4 compatible. It's Dynamic Video Memory Technology 3.0 (DVMT) steals up to 224MB of system memory for the GMA950's use. More importantly, Intel has built in High Definition content support up through to 1080i/p resolutions, and native 16:9 aspect ratio. HDTV playback is supported via a HD content decoder, 5x3 overlay, and hi-bitrate MPEG2 among other points. In other words, this integrated videocard is built to playback High Definition content without any fuss over your computers' analog or digital display.

The Intel 945G is a mainstream chipset, and thus only supports a single PCI Express x16 graphics card. The ICH7 southbridge includes an additional four PCI Express lanes which are typically divvied up between PCI Express x1 slots and Gigabit network adaptors. A dedicated 2GB/s I/O bus connects the Intel 945G Northbridge and ICH7 Southbridge together, which might be a little tight if you have many high bandwidth devices installed but should be just fine for the average user.

The MSI Mega mPC 945 system relies on the ICH7 Southbridge, which in this particular application includes just one 3GB/s Serial ATA channel, a 7.1-channel Intel Azalia High Definition audio codec, eight USB 2.0 ports (split between the rear I/O, front panel and header), 4 PCI Express x1 lanes and six PCI bus masters. The mPC 945 doesn't take advantage of all these options however.

Intel has curtailed ICH7 support to a single IDE channel (supporting two IDE devices) which is really only good for optical drives.

Next up, will the MSI Mega mPC 945 overclock?

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Contents of Article: MSI Computer Mega mPC 945
 Pg 1.  MSI MEGA mPC 945 Barebones Small Formfactor PC Review
 Pg 2.  The MEGA mPC 945 Chassis
 Pg 3.  Looking under the SFF hood
 Pg 4.  Inside the mPC 945 SFF
 Pg 5.  Ease of Installation and Tool Free Design
 Pg 6.  Installing Drives and more...
 Pg 7.  — Intel 945G and GMA950 integrated videocard
 Pg 8.  BIOS Features are Slim / Test Specs
 Pg 9.  SFF PC Benchmarks: SYSMark2004
 Pg 10.  SFF PC Benchmarks: Office Productivity, SiSoft Sandra, Super Pi
 Pg 11.  SFF PC Benchmarks: PCMark05, 3DMark05
 Pg 12.  SFF PC Benchmarks: 3DMark06, FarCry, X3: Reunion
 Pg 13.  SFF PC Benchmarks: UT2004, Doom 3, Quake 4
 Pg 14.  Small Formfactor Redeux

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