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Exclusive : MSI MEGA PC (MEGA651) Preview
By Vijay Anand
Category : Barebone/SFF
Published by Jimmy Tang on Wednesday, 14th May, 2003
Rating : 4 out of 5 stars  


Introduction

Not long ago, many DIY enthusiasts shun systems that aren’t at least a medium tower ATX form factor for reasons such as inadequate expansion and limited practical use. Technology has certainly progressed much since and many motherboards these days are able to integrate features that were once fulfilled by numerous PCI expansion cards; thankfully, the average motherboard these days haven’t changed much in terms of dimensions to cater all that in. With most of the connectivity needs integrated on the motherboard and matching ports at the rear ATX I/O deck, general users can do away with all those extra PCI slots. This and the fact that there are now more affordable and powerful processors that do not require exotic cooling gave rise to the flourishing Small Form Factor (SFF) PCs.

Some of these SFF PCs are just slim chassis that allow you to custom install a Micro ATX motherboard and probably two other drives. Such systems aren’t as petite as the Shuttle XPC systems that we reviewed. These use custom form factor motherboards, custom cooling designs and practically everything else was custom-made to allow for smaller dimensions than a PC that you could self configure off-the-shelf. Small systems are very advantageous because it is much easier to move them around should there be a need (such as for LAN gaming parties) and more notably because these are terrific space savers as compared to normal desktop hogs. Moving to a notebook isn’t a good choice for long usage periods as it does not promote the flexibility of desktop-based systems nor are they as fast and as affordable as DIY PC components that normally one could integrate into these SFF systems.

Available for around two years in the DIY arena, SFF PCs are not a new concept but users have only now come to realize that most of their usage needs can easily be served by these smaller systems. MSI has recently stepped into SFF realm and along with their creative R&D department, they have just triggered an evolution in SFF system conceptualization. Enter the MSI MEGA PC, a system that not only functions as a PC, but also doubles up as a Home Theatre System and a stand-alone Hi-Fi system. The initial offering is based on the SiS 651 platform, hence the MEGA651 model name. Like any other SFF PC, you only require to equip it with CPU, RAM, hard drive and an optical drive. Before we embark on a the tour of its features, you may want to view the specifications to familiarize with its default specifications.


MSI MEGA PC (MEGA651) Technical Specifications
Case Parameters
  • MSI custom form factor ATX specification
  • Slots for 2 expansion cards (1x AGP 4x, 1x PCI)
  • 1 x 5.25-inch drive bays (external)
  • 1 x 3.5-inch drive bays (external)
  • 1 x 3.5-inch drive bays (internal)
  • Power and reset buttons for PC
  • Green LED for power and Orange LED for HDD indication
  • LCM display, Power, playback and volume controls for Hi-Fi functions (remote control provided)
Expansion Ports
  • Front Panel 
    • 2x USB ports
    • 2x Firewire ports (4-pin/6-pin)
    • 1x Line-out / Headphone
    • 1x Mic-in  
    • 1x SPDIF
  • Back Panel 
    • 1x Serial Port
    • 1x Parallel Port
    • 2x USB ports
    • 1x RJ45 10/100 LAN port
    • 1x RJ11 Modem port
    • 1x VGA ports
    • 1x Center/Bass speaker output
    • 1x Front Left / Right speaker output or Line Out
    • 1x Rear Left / Right speaker output
    • 1x SPDIF Optical output
Motherboard Type and CPU Support
  • MSI MS-6760 Custom Form Factor ATX
  • Based on SiS 651 Northbridge chipset and SiS 962 Southbridge
  • Supports Socket-478 CPU (400/533 FSB)
  • Supports DDR266/DDR333 memory
Graphics Subsystem
  • Integrated SiS 315 Graphics Engine
Sound Subsystem
  • Realtek ALC650 6-Channel sound output with SPDIF output
Case Cooling
  • Custom CPU cooler from MSI
Power Supply
  • Enhance Electronics 200W (with Active PFC)    
Dimensions & Weight
  • Width: 202mm
  • Height: 151mm
  • Depth: 320mm
  • Material : Aluminum
  • Color: Brushed Aluminum

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