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AOpen Mini PC MP945-VX Ultra Small Formfactor PC Review

AOpen Mini PC MP945-VX Ultra Small Formfactor PC Review - PCSTATS
Abstract: AOpen has employed an unorthodox method of building its super small, super compact, super quiet miniPC MP945-VX small formfactor system.
 89% Rating:   
Filed under: Computer / SFF PCs Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: AOpen Jan 23 2007   Max Page  
Home > Reviews > Computer / SFF PCs > AOpen Mini PC MP945-VX

Complaints and HTPC Applications

Everything inside the AOpen Mini PC MP945-VX fits together like clockwork.

Working with the machine is a pleasure because parts are easy to access once the top has been popped off. When taking the Mini PC MP945-VX apart, be careful of the two LED status cables which are connected to the motherboard. If you pull too hard it's easy to damage things.

On the small AOpen i945GMx-F motherboard there is a single 200-pin DDR2 SO-DIMM slot for memory (only supports single channel memory), a mini PCI slot which is used with the mini wireless NIC, and under the large heatsink the Core Duo processor and Intel 945GM Northbridge. The ICH7M Southbridge is on the opposite side of the motherboard, hidden from view.

The aluminum shield in the upper half of the system also supports a large plastic shell which acts as a drive bay for the hard drive and DVD writer as well as controlling where the exhaust air goes. To reduce noise and vibrations, AOpen places small pads between the plastic shell, motherboard and aluminum top.

Complaints...

An issue PCSTATS brought up with the last unit is still a bit of a problem with the AOpen Mini PC MP945-VX and that is the lack of USB ports. With only two available, there is a good likelyhood that there will be nothing left after connecting the keyboard and mouse. If you have a printer, a digital camera, an MP3 player, anything that uses a USB port you'll quickly find yourself shopping around for a USB hub.

Of course considering the small size of the AOpen Mini PC MP945-VX, there's not much AOpen can do but it would have been nice to if a USB hub was included with the barebones package.

A four port hub can be had for less than $10 CDN and users would definitely be willing to pay the extra money.

Realistically there should be at least three or four USB slots on the rear I/O of any computer, but since that isn't the case you'll soon learn to make due with just two. PCSTATS recommends the Vantec NexStar GX combination external hard drive and 4-port USB hub for use with this AOpen Mini PC - not only will it add USB ports, but you can slap a nice fat 500 GB hard drive in there and store movies, music, or whatever!

On that note, it also would have been nice to see AOpen somehow fit an eSATA port somewhere. The ICH7M Southbridge supports four Serial ATA channels, only one of which is used with the Serial ATA notebook HDD. Placing an eSATA port on the back would allow users to vastly increase HDD size without suffering from performance loss when using USB or IEEE 1394 external HDD's.

A Perfect HTPC with High Definition Content?

Small formfactor computers are often touted for their multimedia abilities, after all a PC able to handle multiple audio/video streams and can change easily depending on the needs of the user. Given the size of the AOpen Mini PC MP945-VX, it is quite possible the perfect HTPC candidate. It's smaller than most conventional DVD players, it's absolutely silent under power, and it offer video capabilities at par with much larger systems.


A pair of bent paper clips make this jurry-rigged system possible, but with more standardized brackets tied into the displays VESA mounting points the the idea could quickly be realized. This method of mounting a media center PC to the rear of a display keeps it out of the way, but does make inserting a DVD challenging. Positioning the unit closer to either side of the PDP would be better.

The AOpen Mini PC includes support for standard TV output (S-video) as well as component output (Y Pb Pr) for high definition TV's. Connect the 5.1 channel audio controller to a speaker system, and this little silver box is now the hub of any entertainment system... but it's a hub with network connectivity!


Shown are composite, s-video, and component output. If you look closely, you've already notice that the composite and component cables have female ends, and are not actually plugged into the plasma display's inputs. With the proper male-to-male RCA adaptors this is remedied.

In the above mock-up example, PCSTATS attached the Aopen MP945-VX to the rear of a 50" Samsung Plasma screen, utilizing all of its integrated TV-outputs to send standard definition and high definitions to the screen. High Definition content playback tests are next, can the AOpen MiniPC MP945-VX handle 1080P video?

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Contents of Article: AOpen Mini PC MP945-VX
 Pg 1.  AOpen Mini PC MP945-VX Ultra Small Formfactor PC Review
 Pg 2.  First Impressions: Big Potential
 Pg 3.  External Features of the MP945-VX
 Pg 4.  Internal Features of the MP945-VX
 Pg 5.  System board, memory and thermal solution
 Pg 6.  Internal Wireless 802.11b/g and Jacks
 Pg 7.  — Complaints and HTPC Applications
 Pg 8.  High Definition Content Playback and BIOS
 Pg 9.  Benchmarks: SYSMark 2004
 Pg 10.  Benchmarks: Office Productivity, SiSoft Sandra, Super Pi
 Pg 11.  Benchmarks: PCMark05, 3DMark05
 Pg 12.  Benchmarks: UT2004, Doom 3
 Pg 13.  One Great Little HTPC Machine?

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