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World Exclusive: MSI MEGA 865 Deluxe
By Vijay Anand
Category : Barebone/SFF
Published by Jimmy Tang on Wednesday, 10th March, 2004
Rating : 4 out of 5 stars   (Most Innovative Product Award)

MEGA PC Take-2!

When MSI debuted the original MEGA PC a year ago, it totally revolutionized the concept of a small form factor (SFF) system. In fact, the product series name ‘MEGA’ is an abbreviation for MSI Entertainment and Gaming Appliance, which is a very fitting designation if you take into account its specifications and capabilities. For those who are not familiar with the MEGA PC series, it’s basically an SFF system at heart but with features of an entertainment system such as Radio, CD-Audio and MP3 playback all accessible without powering the system on and even without even getting near to it (thanks to its remote control). So yes, the MEGA PC is a mini PC that combines the best of both the PC and Hi-Fi into one small chassis, which is especially ideal where space is a premium, such as your personal room.

The original MEGA PC lineup had the MEGA 651 that was based on the SiS 651 chipset for the Socket-478 Pentium 4 (which we reviewed) and the MEGA 400 whose platform is the VIA KM400 chipset for the Socket-462 (Athlon XP) processors. While those models were based on a design which is nearing a year old now, they were pretty suitable then. However, many were disappointed that the MEGA PC series wasn’t available on the more famous Intel and NVIDIA platforms, until today. After nearly a year of waiting, SFF supporters around the world would be treated to MSI’s newest MEGA PC lineup - the MEGA 865 and the MEGA 180. As the model numbers suggest, the 865 used the Intel 865G platform while the model 180 has an NVIDIA nForce2 IGP platform (the chipset was initially codenamed Crush18G, hence the model number 180).

Judging by the outlook of this huge box that was air-flown from Taiwan, it looks like our pre-release MSI MEGA 865 Deluxe had seen some rough handling before it arrived at our lab.

In this review, we will be focusing on the MSI MEGA 865 Deluxe, but not to worry, as we would also be covering the MSI MEGA 180 in a future review. There is also a non-deluxe MEGA 865, which did not incorporate the 6-in-1 card reader and a Mini PCI Wireless LAN card (IEEE 802.11b standard). Apart from this, both models share many other similarities.

The following are the contents of the MSI MEGA 865 product package:-

  • MSI MEGA 865 barebone SFF system
  • Custom-length SATA cable
  • Power cord
  • MSI CPU cooler
  • Quick Installation Guide
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Software/Drivers CD
  • Radio Antenna Loop
  • Remote Control
  • Screw kit

    Although we listed that only a single SATA cable is in the package, the MSI MEGA 865 SFF itself has all the IDE and power cables (including SATA power cable) pre-routed within the chassis. This implies less work on the part of the user who only has to slide in the appropriate drives, secure them and hook up the appropriate connectors. The printed manuals were too brief in our opinion but they did cover the basics of how to operate the system features as well as how to set up the PC. In the Drivers CD, you'll find the more traditional detailed manual (which is a huge 13MB Adobe Acrobat Reader file) and we do encourage owners to spend a little time to get fully acquainted with the system.

    Before we take an in-depth look at what the new MSI MEGA 865 Deluxe offers, you might want to keep in mind the system parameters and specifications that would come in handy while reading the review:-

    MSI MEGA 865 Deluxe Technical Specifications
    Case Parameters
    • MSI custom form factor ATX specification
    • Slots for 2 expansion cards (1x AGP 8x/4x, 1x  PCI)
    • 1 x 5.25-inch drive bays (external)
    • 1 x 3.5-inch drive bays (internal)
    • Internal Mini-PCI Wireless LAN card installed (IEEE802.11b standard)
    • Internal 56K Modem module installed
    • 6-in-1 Card Reader drive
    • Power and Reset buttons for PC
    • LED color display, Power, playback and volume controls for Hi-Fi functions (remote control provided)
    Expansion Ports
    • Front Panel 
      • 2 x USB 2.0 ports
      • 1 x Firewire port (6-pin)
      • 1 x miniDV Firewire port (4-pin)
      • 1x Headphone output (pre-amplified)
      • 1x Mic-in
      • 1x SPDIF Optical input
    • Back Panel 
      • 1x Serial Port
      • 1x Parallel port
      • 1x VGA output
      • 2 x USB 2.0 ports
      • 1x RJ45 10/100Mbps LAN port
      • 1x RJ11 Phone Jack for Modem
      • 1x Center/Bass speaker output
      • 1x Front Left / Right speaker output
      • 1x Rear Left / Right speaker output
      • 1x SPDIF Optical output
      • PS/2 Keyboard and Mouse
      • Radio Antenna Jack
    Motherboard Type and CPU Support
    • MSI  MS-6797 (MSI Form Factor ATX)
    • Based on Intel 865G chipset
    • Supports Socket-478 CPU (400/533/800 PSB)
      • Willamette not supported
    • Supports dual-channel DDR266 / DDR333 / DDR400 memory
    Storage Subsystem
    • Intel ICH5 Southbridge
      • 2x IDE ATA-100 connectors
      • 1x SATA port
      • 1x Floppy conenctor
    Graphics Subsystem
    • Integrated Intel Extreme Graphics 2
    Sound Subsystem
    • Realtek ALC655 6-Channel sound codec with SPDIF output/input
    Case Cooling
    • MSI custom CPU cooler
    Power Supply
    • FSP Group 250W (with Active PFC)
    Dimensions & Weight
    • Width: 202mm
    • Height: 151mm
    • Depth: 320mm
    • Material : Aluminum
    • Color: Brushed Black
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