New Mini-ITX Board Available From MSI
When building a home theater PC (HTPC), the criteria are usually a small size, low noise production and longevity. MSI's new J1800 aims at fulfilling those criteria.
The low TDP is achieved by using a Intel Celeron J1800, which has integrated graphics. This chip allows for passive cooling to reduce noise production. The board supports up to two sticks of DDR3 RAM, and it can handle up to a total of 8 GB at speeds of 1066/1333 MHz. The audio is handled by a Realtek ALC887 chipset; however, if that is not good enough, the board has a PCI-Express 2.0 x1 slot available for a sound card. There are two SATA 3 Gb/s ports to handle storage. This might be a bottle neck for some SSDs, but it should not make a world of difference, and since this board is not meant for insane performance it does make somewhat sense. Connectivity on the inside includes a 4-pin CPU fan connector even though the chip is passively cooled as well as a 4-pin system fan connector. So if one is not sure about only using passive cooling, it is possible to add a couple of fans. On the back there is both a PS/2 keyboard and mouse port, a USB 3.0 port, two USB 2.0 ports, and 3 audio jacks. As for graphic outputs, there is a VGA port that supports a maximum resolution of 2560x1600, a DVI-D port that supports a maximum resolution of 2560x1600, and an HDMI port that supports a maximum resolution of 1920x1200.
To ensure the longevity of the board, MSI has used its Military Class 4 components, which include dark chokes for better power stability and effeciency, and solid CAPs for longer lifetime, lower ESR, and low temperature.
It should be noted that this board only supports Windows 8 and 8.1, which may deter some potential buyers, but Windows 8 and 8.1 offers Fast Boot, which can prove to be quite nice for an HTPC.