Four Quiet and Powerful Mini PCs for Intel CPUs

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

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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.

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Brief Overview
ModelMSI mPC 945
ChipsetIntel 945G / ICH7
CPUs supportedPentium D / Pentium 4
Front side bus533 / 800 / 1066 MHz
RAM modulesDDR2 Dual Channel 533 / 667
HDD Interface1 x SATA / 1 x IDE
LAN1 x Gigabit Ethernet
Sound7.1 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


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


  • 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


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MSI mPC 945
WeightingCategoriesResults Achieved
10%Noise levels80%
Total results76%

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Siggy Moersch