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MSI MPC 945: A Dainty Mini-PC With Built-in WLAN

Four Quiet and Powerful Mini PCs for Intel CPUs
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A Mini-PC in a wedding gown?
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With an all-white look, the color scheme for the mPC 945 takes a little getting used to. The case frame is made of steel but both front panel doors are made of cheap-looking plastic. Beneath the lower door you'll find front panel connectors for audio, Firewire, and USB, as well as a multi-function memory card reader. Beneath its upper mate, you'll find room to install an optical drive. All the ports and connectors on the back of this unit are color-coded and well-organized.

Brief Overview
Model MSI mPC 945
Chipset Intel 945G / ICH7
CPUs supported Pentium D / Pentium 4
Front side bus 533 / 800 / 1066 MHz
RAM modules DDR2 Dual Channel 533 / 667
HDD Interface 1 x SATA / 1 x IDE
LAN 1 x Gigabit Ethernet
Sound 7.1 High Definition Audio

As soon as you open up the mPC 845, you can't help but notice how incredibly compact this barebones PC is. Of course, this also has an undeniable impact on its extensibility: only one hard disk and a single 5.25" optical drive may be installed in these cramped quarters. A close look at disk drive connectors also reveals only one Serial ATA hookup. The manual claims an additional optional hookup is available, but it must be ordered in advance.

The large CPU cooler that's included with the unit uses three side-mounted copper heat pipes to conduct heat away from the cooler's contact surface. An 80mm fan is affixed to the cooler stack with screws, and blows air audibly through its many cooling fins. The more heavily the CPU gets loaded, the louder the system becomes. At heavy load, we measured noise levels of nearly 50 dB(A). As far as we can tell, both the CPU cooler and the rear-side system fan are responsible for this din.

Pros And Cons

Pros

  • Built-in Mini-PCI socket
  • Integrated WLAN card
  • Interior cabling is well-organized and routed
  • Plenty of space for wide graphics cards

Cons

  • Poor extensibility
  • Too few Serial ATA ports
  • No external SATA connector
  • No power connector for PCI-Express graphics cards
  • No SPDIF audio connectors
  • Rickety front panel doors
  • Noticeable noise levels under heavy load
Temperature Measurements

Ratings
MSI mPC 945
Weighting Categories Results Achieved
35% Equipment 75%
35% Ergonomics 75%
10% Noise levels 80%
10% Price-to-value 75%
5% Design 65%
5% Service 85%
Total results 76%

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