Just like the industry came out in droves with an answer to Asus’ diminutive Eee PC, so MSI has responded with its own (fatter) version of the Eee Box. Called the Wind PC, the energy efficient thin-client-sized computer comes without RAM, a hard drive, or optical drive. At $139, however, it’s certainly a steal.
- Intel® 1.6GHz Atom™ processor on board
- 1 x SO-DIMM for DDRII 533/400 MHz memory, up to 2GB
- 10/100/1000 Ethernet
- 6 USB ports
- 4-in-1 card reader
- 8-channel audio
- 1 x 5.25” drive bay, 1 x 3.5” HDD drive bay
- 1 x CF card slot
- Low power consumption: less than 40W at max
- Low noise: average 30dB
The Wind PC is currently being sold as “barebones”, a term that usually means you get a case, a motherboard, and sometimes a processor. Nothing else.
In this case you get a 1.6GHz Intel Atom processor, their new low-power chip designed for use in netbooks, mobile internet devices, very small form factor desktops, etc. While pretty anemic for serving up high definition content, the Atom chip inside the Wind PC would be more than enough for some SD content, depending on the encoding. With its 6 audio ports and 8 channel audio, it would be nice low-powered music or video server. You could use it as a secondary internet terminal in the kitchen or garage, or even for public use, to keep hands off of your main system. With a low power consumption and the surprise of Gigabit-E networking, it would also be a great little file system. It comes with an internal only CF slot that you could load Windows XP or a lightweight Linux distro onto, and with two SATA ports and drive bays, you could pack this with up to two terabytes of storage. Not bad for using less electricity than a standard lightbulb.
Considering that the Eee Box costs $349, the Wind PC is a very nice, if significantly larger, option. For $200 less than the Eee Box, you still get quite a bit, and a stick of RAM and a hard drive are very cheap these days. While I can’t make a judgement call on performance and durability without having one in hand, I’d say that MSI has created a great alternative to other Atom-based offerings — at a price point that’s much easier on the wallet.
MSI Wind PC order page on Newegg
Product information page from MSI