I shot MSI's AM1I with my new camera, which really makes the circuits of its AM1I pop. If anyone wants to tell me why the bottoms of my DSCRX100M2 images look uniquely out-of-focus though, I’m listening.
As for the board, it looks a lot like the competition from Asus. The MSI AM1I loses two USB 2.0 and one nine-pin serial port from the I/O panel. Then again, this board is also $19 cheaper.
MSI uses a full x16 connector for its second-gen PCIe x4 slot, which gives you access to the end latch that’s missing from Asus’ open-ended version. That could be important if you’re using a wobbly case. Also potentially important is the notebook-style mini-PCIe slot, which often hosts Wi-Fi controllers. Asus doesn’t give you one of those.
So what’s missing? Asus has two internal USB 2.0 headers like MSI, but also adds two more ports to the I/O panel. Gigabyte has two USB 2.0 ports on the I/O panel like MSI, but also adds an extra front-panel header. In other words, MSI's AM1I comes up two ports short of its competitors.
The parallel printer ports header is also gone, which could limit the board’s potential as a replacement part in certain PoS applications. Then again, I don’t think that’s the market MSI had in mind when it configured the AM1I’s slots.
Since AM1-capable APUs support only two SATA 6Gb/s ports, MSI’s AM1I includes exactly two internal SATA cables.
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