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MSI MEGA 180 Deluxe
By Vijay Anand
Category : Barebone/SFF
Published by Jimmy Tang on Thursday, 19th August, 2004
Rating : 4 out of 5 stars   (Most Innovative Product Award)

The MSI MEGA 180 Deluxe

Just to recap, the 'MEGA' acronym stands for MSI's Entertainment and Gaming Appliance, which is a perfectly fitting description for an SFF with integrated GeForce4 MX graphics (that runs fine as long as the game title isn't demanding). What's unique with MSI's MEGA concept is the system's ability to playback MP3, CD Audio and radio without the need to fully power the system and boot into any operating system. These latter functions can be activated just like your average Hi-Fi system and there's even a remote that facilitates this. With such convergence all in one little SFF system, the MSI MEGA PC series is an ideal candidate for the room or even a simple and neat setup for your hall. One of the advantages that MSI's MEGA 180 Deluxe offers over the 865 sister model is the ability to output your computer display to your television. This was possible to implement because the integrated GPU supports this.

The MSI MEGA 180 Deluxe upfront.

Due to the darker mauve side bar color, we weren't able to get good close-up shots of the buttons and markings, but instead we've labeled what each section of this SFF does as shown below:-

All Deluxe versions of the MEGA PCs will feature a 6-in-1 card reader (which accepts CF Type-I, CF Type-II, MS, SD, SM and MMC media cards) and has a Wireless LAN Mini PCI card (IEEE 802.11b compliant) inside the system. So this is among the first SFF systems to be wireless ready.

Unlike many of the other SFF systems we've encountered to date, MSI's MEGA PC series is the only SFF that had an electronic optical drive eject button. The eject button is among the control buttons situated far below and there is no mechanical arm that depresses the eject button on the optical drive. As seen in this photo, the drive bay faceplate neatly conceals the ugly beige drive we've installed.

Further down, the forward I/O bay is also neatly tucked away behind the stylish faceplate cover. Instead of the usual push-button drop-down cover, there's the bay release button as indicated in the picture and that gracefully drops the bay open for use. Inside, there's an optical S/PDIF input, microphone input, headphones output, two USB 2.0 ports and two Firewire connectors (of which one is a normal 6-pin port and the other is a 4-pin MiniDV port).

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