MSI mPC 51PV Small Form Factor PC
Interior and Assembly
Removing the mPC 51PV's case cover reveals a well laid out motherboard. All of the board's connecters and cables are situated in small clusters at the front corners of the board. And all power, data, and header cables come pre-connected.
This makes for a very easy assembly, and a clean, wide-open path down the center of the board. This is important because the CPU cooler blows air across its heatsink, towards the back of the system, where it is then expelled by the rear exhaust fan. This "wind-tunnel" configuration worked well, and kept an Athlon 64 X2 5000+ running properly for literally weeks on end. We should also note that the fans in this SFF PC can be quite loud when spinning at their maximum speeds, but they only seemed to do so during the POST. Once the dynamic BIOS fan controls kicked in, all of the system's fan spun down considerably and the unit remained relatively quiet. Even after hours of gaming, the fans never spun up to a distracting level.
The motherboard in the mPC 51PV is based on NVIDIA's C51PV chipset which features a GeForce 6150 IGP. The 6150 is a basic integrated graphics processor, but should a user want something more powerful, the system is outfitted with single PCI Express x16 and standard PCI expansion slots. Unfortunately, there are no spare power leads coming form the unit's 260W PSU, so graphics cards that require supplemental power will need to be connected via power cable splitters and adapters. Audio duties on the board are handled by a Realtek HD codec, Gigabit LAN by a Vitesse chip, and WiFi comes by way of a Ralink mini-PC card.
Assembly of the mPC 51PV could not be easier. Simply pulling up on a handle at the rear of the main drive cage unlocks it, and causes it to swing upwards. You'll then have easy access to the CPU and DIMM slots. And all the drives can be installed without any tools. Just slide them into position and lock them into place with the provided locking mechanisms. Then its just a matter of connecting a couple of data cables which are already pre-routed into the correct positions.
One thing you may have noticed looking through the pictures above is that there are basically no open headers or connectors on the mPC 51PV's motherboard. The system is meant to be a streamlined, mainstream mini-PC, and as such there are no connectors or headers for devices than can't be installed in the enclosure. This limits the expandability of the mPC 51PV, but it also helps cut costs and minimize internal system clutter.