MSI’s new, tiny motherboards offer passively cooled quad-cores and 4K support

new mini itx motherboards from msi can decode 4k msihtpc
Looking to build a new home theater computer? There are a lot of options, but if you’d like to be future-proofed for 4K and want to keep the system small, the choices quickly narrow. Now MSI is slightly widening the field with three new Mini-ITX motherboards.

What sets these apart from most is their use of a Braswell embedded processor. The boards themselves are actually the same; it’s the processor that sets each apart. They include a dual-core Celeron N3050 with a 1.6GHz base clock and 2.16GHz Turbo, a quad-core Celeron N3150 with a 1.6GHz base clock and 2.08GHz Turbo, and a quad-core Pentium N3700 with a 1.6GHz base clock and 2.4GHz Turbo.

These chips are based on the Braswell architecture, Intel’s low-power alternative to the Broadwell architecture is found in Core chips. While Braswell is far slower in per-clock performance, it’s adequate for most situations, and many examples of the architecture make up for modest clock speeds with multiple cores. The chips also include Intel integrated graphics with H.265 decode and 4K support, which is why these boards look great for home theater use.

Connectivity includes two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, HDMI, Ethernet, on-board audio and possibly a serial port. There also appears to be PS/2 support for older keyboards and mice. Internal connectivity includes two SATA 6Gb/s ports and a PCI Express x1 slot. Yes, this means there’s no PCI Express x16 slot, so an add-on video card is not an option.

All three motherboards are passively cooled, and while MSI has not released size specifications, the Mini-ITX form factor means they’ll fit in even the smallest desktop enclosures. You won’t be able to build something as small as Intel’s NUC with these boards, but you’ll come close.

Look for these boards to hit stores soon, but pricing is not yet available.


The Razer Core X Chroma is the best external GPU you can buy

The third entry in Razer's lineup of external graphics card enclosures, the Core X Chroma, brings together the best of its previous options in a single package. With RGB lighting and extra USB ports, is this the best you can buy?
Product Review

Microsoft’s Surface Laptop 2 launched last year, but already feels old

Released in fall of 2018, the Surface Laptop 2 was competitive at the time but now must deal with new competitors that were announced at CES 2019. How does the popular Surface Laptop 2 hold up six months later?

Is Threadripper dead? If so, AMD has made a huge mistake

Think Threadripper is dead? Think again. AMD's flagship CPU line might not be on this year's roadmap, but it's not dead and could well bring some amazing new enhancements when it returns.

The best all-in-one PCs look good and have great performance in a compact package

An all-in-one PC are the perfect way to reduce desktop clutter and simplify your computing experience. Balancing performance, display quality, and value, these are the best all-in-one PCs.

The best Amazon Prime Day 2019 deals: Everything you need to know

Amazon Prime Day 2019 is still a few months off, but it's never too early to start preparing. We've been taking a look at the best discounts from previous Prime Days to give you our predictions of what to expect this year.
Social Media

6 easy ways to archive all of your favorite Instagram videos

Saving Instagram videos should be just as easy as taking a screenshot. So, we've put together a list of the best apps and tools that save your favorite Instagram videos onto your phone or computer.
Product Review

Looking for discrete graphics on the cheap? The Acer Swift 3 will do the trick

The Acer Swift 3 is a tweener laptop that’s not quite budget and not quite premium – and it feels and performs accordingly. It manages to hold its own, though, thanks to its discrete GPU.

Cybercrime gang that stole $100M busted in international effort

A major cybercrime gang that used powerful malware to steal an estimated $100 million from bank accounts has been dismantled following an international effort that spanned six countries.

G-Sync is a game-changer. These are the best monitors with Nvidia's display tech

Looking for a monitor that plays well with Nvidia GPUs? You need G-Sync and we have picked the best G-Sync monitors available. Take a look and find out which monitor works best for your PC upgrade.

Microsoft is discounting this Surface Laptop 2 by a sweet $300

Microsoft is offering a nearly 14-inch Surface Laptop 2 with 256GB of storage at a $300 discount until May 18, 2019. The laptop comes with a PixelSense display, and Intel Core i5 processor and a 720p HD camera.

Google recalls Titan Security Key due to hijack risk

Google is offering a free replacement for the Bluetooth Low Energy version of the Titan Security Key. A misconfiguration was discovered in the device, though hackers looking to exploit the vulnerability will find it difficult to do so.

Whether you want to edit, sign, or append, PDFs, these are the best PDF editors

While there are plenty of PDF editor options online, finding a solution with the tools you need can be tough. Here are the best PDF editors for your editing needs, no matter your budget or operating system.

Give your PC a new lease on life by upgrading its core components

Older PCs can still be great tools for work and play, they just need a little upgrade now and then. Here are the best upgrades you can make to your PC to make it feel fresh and fast once again.

The best software for filing your taxes — because you can never be too early

The best tax software offers a variety of services for saving money, completing your taxes at top speed, or getting advice for more complex tax scenarios that you haven't had to deal with before.