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