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MSI MEGA 180 Mini-PC Review

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February 25, 2004 1:38:51 PM

I enjoyed the review "MSI MEGA 180 Mini-PC: Functionality Combined With Beauty". However it left me with more questions. The review appears to be geared toward gaming capabilities and not towards Home Theater integration, which I think is its intended purpose.

I don’t believe the average "hard core gamer” would ever buy this system planning to use it to play the latest 3D games. I just don't see it - it's the hard core gamers driving the self-built, overclocked, liquid cooled systems.

I have discussed this with several co-workers (all certified "geeks", 19 to 61 years old – at a major national defense IT contractor) and we have come to the consensus that MOST computer users, who want to do more than check email, shop on-line, and write papers, have and use more than one computer - depending on its use, and money available.

For example, at home I have my main machine for all "home" related work (taxes, banking, personal letters, etc.). My second computer is used for games (has a CRT monitor) and general use.

I don't pretend to have one computer "do all" - I don't ever see there being one – too many different people with different needs.

Now, I want a PC to integrate in to my HT system. It needs to look good, sure. And it seems this MSI will fit in – although there’s no comment on “fit and finish”, sharp edges, etc. But what’s the quality of the OEM video out to a big screen with a progressive scan DVD?

The reviewer adds, “There are two VGA inputs to split a screen without adding another card”. What does that mean? Even if I assume “inputs” is a typo and it should be “outputs”, I still don’t know exactly what that means.

I go back a few decades and “HiFi” on the cover doesn’t mean crap! Is the sound really high fidelity?

How does the FM tuner work? Is it even stereo?

Does it come with any PVR software? Any software? A driver disk? What about documentation? Did the WiFi work?

How quiet is the system? 40mm fans are notoriously loud and it looks like there are 2 of them on the CPU alone. I don't want to be distracted by fans while watching TV/Movies.

Too many questions left unanswered.
June 6, 2004 7:56:51 PM

Just FYI, I've just (tried) built a MEGA 865. After a number of issues, now the front panel has died. MSI support is terrible and they don't stand behind their product. I'm having trouble determining how to return this item. I STRONGLY recommend staying away from MSI products. If you're interested in any details, let me know.
June 6, 2004 10:05:02 PM

I have seen the barebones MSI systems and they look great, but looks can be decieving. To be honest I think that sing a P4 for a multimedia computer is overkill, too much heat and I bet you those 40mm fans are loud.

If I were you I would built a system from scratch using a VIA epia motherboard with the Eden CPU. It aint fast but the system is going to be used for DVD's and MP3s right?
The Eden cpu can be passivly cooled, and the EPIA motherboard has sound, graphics and LAN built in...including a TV out port. Just chuck in a TV card, hard drive and DVD drive and you are in buisness.

Just a thought.

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Waterchill KT12-L30
Abit AI7
Radeon 9800Pro
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June 7, 2004 12:49:24 AM

Wow - no replies for 4 months and now all of a sudden, 2 in one day. Anyways, I have never had any problems with MSI, but it is nice to know that when there is a failure, that support is poor.

I'm still looking at silent HTPC options, I'll have to check into that Eden CPU - THX.
June 7, 2004 2:03:31 AM

Read my case sizing article at Sysopt, you'll find that most mini systems (most being the cube shaped ones) are not good as portable gaming systems nor as home theater PC's.

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