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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
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

One Great Little HTPC Machine?

SFF PC's work much better than regular desktop machines as home entertainment machines, however traditional SFF PC's are still usually bigger than home theatre counterparts. Not much can be done, certain desktop components like disk drives and coolers simply cannot be shrunk down any further, that's why most SFF PC's on the market are still a similar size to Shuttle's initial unit.

AOpen has a whole range of SFF PC's, most are based on the traditional design but it has done something rather revolutionary with its Mini PC's. Essentially AOpen has opened the door to much smaller systems by using laptop parts for a desktop style SFF PC. These parts already come miniaturized and tuned for quiet and low power operation so it was a natural progression.

The new AOpen Mini PC MP945-VX is not the first AOpen Mini PC to pass through the PCSTATS test labs, we looked at its Mini PC MP915-B (Super Multi) a few months ago and were very impressed. With the new MP945-VX, AOpen has increased the computing power of its Mini PC's dramatically by opting for an Intel Core Solo processor.

Whether you're looking for a desktop workstation style replacement, or a HTPC to replace the bulky home theatre equipment, the AOpen Mini PC MP945-VX can do the job. The system is based around Intel's Core Duo notebook processor, uses the 945GM chipset and supports DDR2 memory. Standard features include an IEEE 1394a controller, Intel Gigabit NIC, Ateros 802.11a/b/g wireless network adapter, an onboard 5.1 channel audio controller and a dual layer slot-loading DVD burner. All that and the system when fully installed weighs in at only 1.5kg!

AOpen does not skimp anywhere with the Mini PC MP945-VX and the quality of the barebones kit is outstanding. AOpen's Mini PC's are the perfect HTPC, I know because I use one for that purpose myself at home. ;-) The Intel GMA950 supports high definition conten acceleration, and that allows the system passable performance when handling 720P or 1080P video. The Core Duo T2400 has enough power to keep things running smoothly in most applications.

The wireless 802.11a/b/g connection is great for surfing the internet however it does not have quite enough bandwidth to stream a high definition video or DVD without things getting choppy. Newer DiVX/xvid movies are ok. If you'd rather run a cable, the Gigabit NIC (even when only running at 100Mb) has more than enough bandwidth to stream high bandwidth movies.

Workstation performance of the system is good although WindowsXP Media Center might not be the best OS to use. WindowsXP doesn't have as many media-friendly utilities, but it seems to handle applications like Sysmark better. Still, the AOpen Mini PC MP945-VX kept up with other SFF machines well in SYSMark 2004 and was particularly impressive in its raw computing power as shown in Super Pi. 3D gaming is pretty much a no go here.

With a retail price of $420 CDN ($375 US, £203 GBP) for the barebones unit, the AOpen Mini PC MP945-VX is pretty aggressively priced considering it comes with a dual layer DVD burner. You will have to spend extra to get the CPU, memory and hard drive, or find the system from a system integrator fully installed (most likely according to AOpen). Either way, prices will vary. The Mini PC MP945-VX may run slightly more than the desktop equivalent, but this is definitely the smallest SFF PC on the market! If you want the absolute sweetest HTPC or entertainment machine, the AOpen Mini PC is definitely the machine drool over.

PCSTATS Editor's Choice Award

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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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