MSI readies Wind Box DC100 HTPC with AMD E-450

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While Asrock's second-gen Vision 3D home theater machine combines the general processing power of Intel's Sandy Bridge architecture and the graphics muscle of Nvidia's discrete GeForce family, MSI has taken a more consolidated approach by leveraging the latest silicon from AMD. The upcoming Wind Box DC100 is armed with the E-450 APU, which houses two 1.65GHz processing cores, a 508-600MHz Radeon HD 6320, and support for DDR3-1333 RAM.

AMD's flagship Zacate chip is accompanied by the A50M (Hudson M1) chipset, 2GB of RAM (upgradable to 4GB -- one slot), a 320GB 5400RPM hard drive, and an optional TV tuner. Sound is tackled by the Realtek ALC662, which provides 5.1-channel audio including a mic input and an SPDIF output. Other connectivity includes VGA- and HDM-out, six USB ports (four in front, two in back) a 6-in-1 card reader, as well as an Ethernet jack and 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi.

The E-450 should supply all the performance the average HTPC needs while casually sipping electricity. In our review of the E-350, AMD's platform consumed less power under load than Intel's Atom 330 and GeForce 9400M-based Asrock Ion 330HT-BD. Naturally, such modest thermal requirements means the Wind Box DC100 can get by with minimal cooling hardware, and that shows with its petite body of 7.5 x 5.9 x 1.3 inches -- smaller than the 3D Vision.

Along with Windows 7 Home Premium, MSI will ship its HPTC with proprietary software installed. The company's Smart Media Link and Smart Sync allow you to synchronize and stream multimedia files simultaneously from different devices on your local network. There's no word on US pricing or availability yet, but European sites are offering preorders for €299. As a side note, we should mention that we're preparing a comparison review of two ultra-compact platforms, the Asrock Z68M-ITX HT with a Core i3-2120 and Asrock A75M-ITX with a A8-3850.

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