MSI Mega mPC 945 SFF PC
A Closer Look: Internal Part 1
Removing the Mega mPC 945's outer shell is a simple task, all users have to do is loosen three thumbscrews and slide the cover off. The inner design has a clean organized layout, with the drive cage being the main removable component. Once removed, user gain access to the inner workings of the chassis. Removal of the drive cage is an obvious matter of lifting the integrated handle, which pivots the cage to a vertical position. Once fully extended, a small kickstand is located at the lower right to keep the cage in position. Underneath we find the hard drive and optical drive data and power cables, aligned perfectly in a plastic frame. Whether using the IDE or SATA II options, with the drives in place, the cabling falls into proper position without any effort.
When it comes to installing the drives, however, the function of the drive cage becomes a little less obvious, requiring a number of steps to disassemble properly. First, the plastic guide that keeps the data and power cables organized must be detached from the cage. Next, a locking mechanism above the hard drive frame must be slid to the left which unlocks the hard drive frame for removal, which is necessary to mount the optical drive. Once the hard drive frame is removed from the main cage, the underside of the optical drive frame is exposed, revealing the tool-less mechanism required to lock the drive in place.
Unfortunately, the cage still must be removed as the optical drive can only be mounted from the front of the cage assembly. At this point, two white locks on the hinge portion of the drive assembly need to be lifted which release the drive cage assembly completely from the Mega mPC 945's chassis. Once removed, the optical drive can be slid into place and locked in. Next, the hard drive must be mounted in its own frame, locked into place, then reattached to the main cage. Next, the cage needs to be reattached to the chassis and locked into place followed by remounting the plastic cable guide.
Granted, the procedure of removing the drive cage and assembling the drives is clearly outlined in the user's manual, but nonetheless, the process was a bit more involved than we would have hoped. If the optical drive could be inserted from the rear, removal of the cage would not be required. Additionally, if nubs were provided on the edge of each respective drive assembly, the locking mechanisms would be accessible without needing to take the entire cage apart piece by piece. On the plus side, this was a completely tool-less design that didn't leave us scrambling for our handy four-way screwdriver.