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back to article MSI releases £235 desktop Eee PC rival ahead of Asus

Fed up of waiting for Asus' desktop Eee PC? Rival Taiwanese manufacturer MSI has stepped in with a mini machine of its own, which it's punting at just £235. MSI Titan MSI's Titan: desktop Eee rival before there's a desktop Eee The PC's called the Titan - something of a misnomer given the unit's small size. It measures 240 x …

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Linux

Perfect

Computers being sold the way they should be, no preinstalled garbage causing you to pay extra for stuff you will not use.

Friends of mine just bought a Dell laptop, that is classified as a all around media computer. The preinstalled Burning software has 30 day license, the same with the security software. Why have software installed with those types of limitations.

The whole purpose of a capitalistic society is you have a choice.

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Anonymous Coward

PSU?

What's the power supply, I can't see a plug there?

Not a 12VDC per chance?

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Alert

RS232?

Will it run OSX?

but seriously, do my eyes deceive me? 2 Serial COM ports?

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@JonB

Methinks it's the round socket to the right. Passive power brick PSU is fine by me!

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Boffin

To brick

Its a brick... power supply that is. Oh and it looks nano-itx sized. iei world did nano itx with celeron processors and 1gb ram for oh 2 years. i have one on my desk. 12V only (on board regulator) and IDE and floppy etc.

Or if you want real small - the Wafer models are 3.5" drive sized with SATA and DVI options. Via are not the only small (read embedded) processors out there.

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@JonB

Far right hand side at the back looks like a standard DC input jack to me, 12V is most likely.

But before you think of putting it in a car, you really need to get a car specific power supply (somthing like an M2 ATX) to cope with spikes & troughs.

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Anonymous Coward

re: PSU

It'll be an external power brick.

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Happy

Hmmmm...

Nice one MSI!

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Unhappy

@ Jamie

I think you'll find that the whole purpose of a capitalistic society is that you spend your life like this:

born, pay, pay, pay, pay, pay, pay, pay, die.

Choice, Freedom, Liberty etc are just propaganda words, part of the con.

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Re PSU

@JonB,

since it's a mini-itx main board it's using a 12volt brick, something like a laptop psu.

and the plug is on the right side.

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Choice...@Jamie

Of course you have choice...the whole reason that they include 30 day licenses is to try before you buy. No charge if you want to use something else, easy to buy license if you can't be bothered to look at alternatives. It's funny how you classify it as a "limitation", when it wasn't charged for in the price, and you can remove it and install another choice if you want.

This looks sweet - no mention though of it's cooling. I can't see any fan outlets. It would make a brilliant media box if this is the case, so to speak.

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Linux

Mini-ITX

Looks like a mini-itx solution, but cheaper than DIY. Would make a perfect mythtv media-centre client.

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Anonymous Coward

@Graham Wood

You read my mind.. ;)

Ah, you're right, the internal DC-DC probably wouldn't take car size variations...

Still, doesn't take much to swap for one that does...

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Heart

nearly perfect.

Like the serial ports (not many have them these days)

Svideo , vga and dvi video outputs. HDMI would have been a much more welcome addition for me as I would love to hook this up to new telly without worrying about audio.

The specs are good for the price, and I bet with the via CPU and 12V PSU its very very quiet.

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PS2 and Serial ports??

WTF???? In a device they are trying to make small, why oh why have they wasted valuable space (which I'm sure must be a premium) on old ports like that??

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wow

At this price surely this makes pretty temping alternative to a NAS device? The added flexibility of a full PC being a nice bonus. Mmm, I can see this making a nice Slimserver box.

Andy.

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Rob
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noise?

looks like a very interesting bit of kit, especially at that price, anyone have an idea as to what sort of noise it makes? -should be nice and quiet if it has a brick-type psu, fingers crossed..

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Unhappy

Ugly

What a pig-ugly computer that is! Don't you just love visible screws and bent metal enclosures...

They should look at the Mac mini for how to make attractive mini PCs.

And why have they bothered to put 1980's PS/2 and Serial ports on there? Surely a few extra USB 2.0 ports and a couple of Firewire 400/800 would be better?

Does anyone use those old ports anymore?

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Little bit expensive?

Whilst it looks like a decent product, you can get desktop systems from places such as Dell for less than that with Windows included (yes I know it's only Home Basic, but at least you'd get it included!). Alternatively for an extra £60 or so you could also get a low end Celeron laptop.

One of the great points of the EeePC is that it's cheap, small and even more portable than a regular laptop, this particular low end system doesn't really compare.

I know this has the advantage of being a small system and probably uses less power, but is it value for money?

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Tom

I would have one in the bag if..

It had WiFi built in..

I have been thinking about building a media server to stick under the tele but cant find anything that comes out cheap enough. This would be ideal if it had WiFi built in, not that its too hard to add but still.

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like

V. nice bit of kit - as others have said it's a tempting media PC, with a WiFi connection.

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12V DC...?

So this runs on 12V DC?? i.e. a very easy PC install for a car??

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Linux

What market?

is it a media centre pc, in which case a nice HDMI etc set up would have done the trick?

or is it aimed at industrial / scientific market, that would expalin teh serial ports needed to link it to all that machinary gubbins you find in labs and factories - at the same time it doest look that "rugged"

but then niether was the origianl IMB PS2 - although that didnt dtop us finding them caked up with oil, metal shavings and green stuff that has an higher IQ than croydon.

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Re: Little bit expensive?

Not for a mini-ITX solution. You tend to pay 20%+ premium for the "size matters" option. By the mini-ITX world standard this is an extremely keen price.

What I do not like is the speed. at 2GHz it is bound to have a fan which defeats its use as a media center system (with the media elsewhere on a server where it belongs).

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@ Tom

dood - for a multimedia center a ps3 is pretty good - thats what i use mine for. HDMI to a 42" toshiba TV and optical out to a YAMAHA AV AMP.. v good and its a great games system too :) i store all my photos, music and video on mine (got a 1/2 TB drive in it)

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@Jonny G and Tony Barnes

Probably has serial ports so i can be used as a till in a shop, quite a few bits of hardware still use a serial interface (barcode scanners etc)

Two problems with using it in a car, probably won't like the voltage variations and wouldn't fit in the 7" bay instead of your radio, but it is a common use for ITX pc's. personally I just bought a radio with a 3.5mm jack so can just plug my mp3 player in.

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Bez

Am I missing something?

This doesn't seem cheap for an entry-level box with no peripherals. I just followed a link on the right hand side of this page to a comparable PC for under £230, and that one comes with XP Pro.

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Anonymous Coward

Old pictures

Seems a bunch of old pics are doing the rounds - the motherboard has been changed for one with a built in 600W psu according to the MSI web site.

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RW
Paris Hilton

But no USB port on the front :(

Boo hoo hoo.

I h_a_t_e having to fumble around at the back of a machine to plug in this or that portable device. Esp the cable-free infernalPod.

I wonder if Paris gets plugged in the back?

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Nice bit of kit!!!!

RE: the apple design comment, if this WAS designed by apple I am sure it would look good, but you will probably be paying 3 times the price!

Looks like a nice product, MythTV should work nicely!

Where can one buy it?

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Linux

No good for a media centre PC

Wouldn't chose it for a media centre client (MythTV) unless you've no interest in High Def. That Via processor hasn't got a chance of playing back h.264 and probably would struggle with high res mpeg2.

The choice of 2x rs232 is pretty strange too.

I wouldn't mind seeing one with an AMD/Intel Mobile CPU, Ati/NVidia graphics with HDMI-out.

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bought it

Will let you all know if it's any good or utter chuff :)

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It's nearly there

One serial port is plenty. An optical audio output would be useful, as would DVI.

I like the PS2 ports to use my wireless mouse and keyboard, but a few more USB ports wouldn't go amiss.

Drop the price to < £200 and I've got my wallet out.

Version 2: include a BlueRay drive, in place of the DVD, and bult in WiFi, for £250 inc VAT.

I was going to but a motherboard and CPU this weekend to build my own. Maybe I'll wait a bit and buy one ready made for the same price.

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Linux

Good but not very innovative

I built several PCs of similar size going back to about 2004, using a Biostar iDeq barebones system.

(the Reg even reviwed the iDeq - http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/04/05/biostar_ideq_200n_review/)

All run linux of course and the cost was about the same as this device.

I suppose it would have been good not to have to physically build it though (at the time it seemed impossible to buy fully built without micro$oft tax)

spegru

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Anonymous Coward

Overspecced for a Myth front end

This would make a great mythfront end but it's way overspecced on the CPU. I use a M10000 motherboard, no disc (remote boot), and it's pretty quiet and runs everything using a 1GHz CPU.

I don't have a HD TV so perhaps we need a 2Ghz CPU but that adds more heat, which means more fans, which means more noise. The secret here is to keep it as simple as possible, diskless is easy, quick, quiet and no heat.

On another note, not wholly convinced that WiFi works for the sort of multi-media we're now getting. I know the theoretical specs seem rather nice but practical experience is that the active throughput is nowhere near and the occassional high latency drop outs mean video is a no-no. I'm interested if people have got video working well under 802.11g.

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Just need email and web access?

A mate picked up one of these for £99 with a 40GB HDD and Xubuntu pre-installed.

http://www.viglen.co.uk/viglen/Products_Services/Product_Range/Product_file.aspx?eCode=XUBUMBCL&Type_Info=Description&Type=Desktops&GUID=22166764417

Admitedly he just uses it as an Xterm but still...

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Anonymous Coward

Serial ports

I dunno - I've seen one application I'm seriously interested in that wants two serial ports. This'd be ideal.

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@AC

"I'm interested if people have got video working well under 802.11g."

Using TVersity i can regularly stream ANY 1080p or 720p format video from my main pc(via attached terabyte USB drive) via Wifi to my PS3, onto the hi-def telly, its perfect quality.

Of course i could save time and just plug the drive into the PS3, but then the movies need to be in certain formats. TVersity transcodes the buggers in realtime, though thats beyond the 2ghz ability of this MSI thing.

My dualcore (2.6ghz per core) goes up to about 80-90% during realtime transcoding of mkv's to PS3 format.

Still works though, and also plays GTA4!

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Coat

More info found...

Found it listed at ccl online already, but then the titan range was hinted at before CeBIT in a late February press release.

Looks:

They have some better photos. The front appears to be a brushed metal finish. Maybe brushed nickel.

Don't Worry:

The "visible screws" in el-reg's front photo are because the flap over the front connections is open - the photo's just too dark to be useful. There are 2 front usb and front headphone/mic sockets.

An msi website news sheet claimed it now had a 600W psu. Probably a typo - the ccl description says 60W; which would be less likely to melt or catch fire. Also this PC is smaller than my 600W PSU!. Their pictures suggest its still an external brick.

Noise:

CCL say the only fan is on the cpu, and imply its variable speed/noise.

PS: They claim its in stock!

OK - I'll get my coat - its the one with web search guru on the back.

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HD Playback

The chipset should have a rather nice mpeg4 decoder on there, and via is supposed to be releasing decent Linux drivers for that eventually. If the drivers were there you should be able to play full on 1080p x264 w/ minimal CPU useage. Otherwise you're completely screwed because that is a slow cpu. I've got a Via Mini-ITX 800MHz from years ago, and that chip is only slight faster than a 400MHz PII. Then again, my whole Mini-ITX system uses less power than the PII does by itself...

Kit like this makes for a nice little vpn/ssh server. I'd rather go for MSI's Geode board - the cpu creates so little heat that they don't even put a heatsink on there.

And I imagine the reason that they left all the ports on the box is because they just used one of their standard MiniITX boards, and those are designed to go in all sorts of embedded / retail / industrial environments, where those things are important.

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Boffin

Re: No good for a media centre PC

The video has MPEG2 and MPEG4 hardware accel so in fact it may be able to play HD subject to the software being able to take advantage of the feature. It is all quite irrelevant at present. You can rip 99% of all DVDs when using the right drive with right firmware (thanks LiteOn). You cannot do that with HD media.

So as far as "real" HD any PC is presently more or less out of the question. There is no point in using a PC if you cannot use the storage. If you are going to keep on plugging the damn BDs into it you might as well buy a proper BD drive.

As far as upscaling to HD res all Vias starting from the first C7 at 1MHz and the first post-S3 videos have enough resource to do that. I have a diskless client using the first Via "media" mb from 4+ years back at 1GHz. It is based around VLC and can flawlessly run "Planet Earth" in 1366x768.

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RE: John

I bet the serial COM ports are for the POS market. They are probaby trying to get into the POS market like Abit have for no apparent reason.

I have to say this is a good idea but it looks so butt ugly!!!

Please employ someone artistic at MSI

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