MSI Mega mPC 945 SFF PC
A Closer Look: Internal Part 2 and the BIOS
With the drive cage removed, the inner components of the Mega mPC 945 are revealed and easily accessible. The main board, built with Intel's 945G chipset at its core, is a proprietary form factor that has a small footprint with an impressive, organized layout. The unit supports all Pentium 4 and Pentium D processors as well as the budget class Celeron line. Memory capacity tops out at 2GB DDR2 (1GB max per slot) in 533 and 667MHz flavors.
The mainboard is equipped with one PCI Express x16 slot and one PCI 2.3 slot for expansion. Surprisingly, plenty of room is available for double-wide video cards as we see below. While it does sacrifice the PCI 2.3 slot, a video card with an oversized cooler can fit into the frame nicely. In this case, we fit MSI's own 7600GT into the Mega mPC 945's chassis with little fuss, leaving the option open for serious gaming potential with a full sized graphics card, which is only limited by the 260w power supplies capacity. We should also note that no additional power connectors are offered, so a video card that does not require supplemental power is the best candidate for this particular system.
Note in the center image above, the Mega mPC 945's wireless 802.11G Mini-PCI adapter is mounted, much like what you would find in a laptop design. This addition is low-profile, having minimal impact on the limited space within the Mega mPC 945's frame, yet it adds major functionality to the unit. For CPU cooling, a custom heat-pipe cooler is provided that lines up directly with the rear exhaust fan of the chassis.
The copper based cooler sports thermal material pre-applied and is held in place by four spring loaded screws that cannot be over tightened. This, along with the add-on card retention mechanism, are the only components that will require the use of a screwdriver. Once in place, simply plug in the CPU coolers power to the mainboard and installation is complete.
Because this is a Small Form Factor design, it wasn't surprising to find that the Mega mPC 945 was not equipped with any advanced overclocking options to push the hardware beyond its limits. With its small size, heat build up and airflow can be a major factor, making overclocking an impractical venture. What was surprising though is the total lack of performance settings aimed at tuning the system to its best potential. MSI did not include any voltage adjustments for memory or CPU, nor were there any performance settings for the memory such as various CAS latency options. About the only thing we found was memory configuration options for the shared integrated graphics memory which could be set to either 64 or 128MB.
Essentially, the only features this BIOS has to speak of are the ability to enable/disable integrated components, monitor system temperature and voltages and set the PCI Express payload size. In the end, while overclocking features were not expected with this type of product, leaving out memory performance options is a fairly large omission with the Mega mPC 945's BIOS.