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MSI Wind Box DC111 review

Richard Easton
6 Dec 2014
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
189
inc VAT

The MSI Wind Box DC111 is a very cheap mini PC, but don't expect breathtaking performance

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Specifications

Processor: Dual-core 1.8GHz Intel Celeron 1037U, RAM: 4GB, Front USB ports : 4x USB2, Rear USB ports: 2x USB3, Total storage: 500GB hard disk, Graphics card: Integrated Intel HD Graphics, Display: N/A, Operating system: Windows 8.1

The MSI Wind Box DC111 is a smart little mini-PC that, to us, looks like a cross between a Stormtrooper helmet and a wireless router. That isn’t a criticism, though, as we think the Wind Box looks great. The Wind box comes with a stand, and it needs to stood upright due to vents on both sides. However, the stand angles the Wind Box’s four front USB ports and 3.5mm audio jacks for easy connection, and the Wind Box really doesn’t much desk space. All other connection ports are at the rear and include two USB3 ports and a gigabit Ethernet port among others. There’s also a HDMI port and a VGA port.

The Wind box’s power button is on the side of the system, near the top corner, which is a little annoying because you can accidentally press it when you grab the Wind Box to turn it around to access the rear ports. On top is a useful memory card reader that supports SD, MS and MMC cards. The close proximity of the USB3 ports to the HDMI port isn’t ideal if your HDMI cable has a thick connector. Our HDMI cable, which has an articulating connector, made plugging in a USB flash drive a bit tricky but we could use both at the same time.

The system is powered by a dual-core 1.8GHz Intel Celeron 1037U. This processor has very low power requirements making the system energy efficient. However, this is at a performance trade-off. The Wind Box is also equipped with 4GB of DDR3 SO-DIMM memory and this is the maximum supported by the motherboard.

The Wind Box scored 29 overall in our application benchmarks, which is a low score and not much higher than a basic Windows 8.1 tablet would get. The Wind Box will handle basic tasks, such as web browsing, word processing and creating spreadsheets, but don’t expect to tackle more difficult tasks such as video editing unless you have a lot of patience. Just using Windows proved to be a chore occasionally with applications sometimes slow to open and respond.

When idle the system runs almost silently. However, the fans do begin to produce an audible, high-pitched noise that can be distracting when operating under load, such as when running our benchmarks. Happily, the Wind Box played Full HD video well, and the noise was still respectably low. Indeed, the Wind Box will make a respectable HTPC. Sadly, the Wind Box isn’t suited to playing 3D games because it uses the Celeron processor’s built-in graphics processor (GPU). The Wind Box failed our Dirt Showdown test, as it could only produce an unplayable 14fps with the game set to a 1,280x720 resolution with 4x anti-aliasing and High quality graphics. The average frame rate did jump up to a smoother 42fps when we disabled anti-aliasing and reduced graphics quality to High, but you’re losing out on some good visuals by doing that. The Wind Box only produced an average 20fps in Minecraft, which was very disappointing.

The MSI Wind Box isn’t really designed to be upgraded, and there’s a warranty void sticker over one of the back screws, so it’s evident that MSI doesn’t want you tampering with its insides. There’s not much upgrade potential anyway, with the maximum amount of memory already installed. The case can accommodate a single 2.5in drive, and the system comes with a 500GB hard disk installed. An upgrade to an SSD should make the Wind Box feel much more responsive in the Windows Desktop, but given that the major appeal of the Wind Box is its price, installing an SSD might not make sense economically.

The MSI Wind Box DC111 has an interesting design and its tilting stand makes accessing the front ports convenient, but the placement of the power button might prove frustrating. Its performance was respectable considering its low price, and if you’re only looking to complete basic tasks it’ll suffice. If you can spend more and want better performance, though, buy the Zotac ZBox Sphere O1520 Plus instead.

Core specs
ProcessorDual-core 1.8GHz Intel Celeron 1037U
Processor socketFCBGA1023
RAM4GB
Memory typePC3-10600 SO-DIMM
Maximum memory4GB
MotherboardMSI MS-B0621
Motherboard chipsetIntel NM70
Ports and expansion
Front USB ports4x USB2
Rear USB ports2x USB3
Other portsNone
Networking1x 10/100/1000, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi
Case typeMini-PC
Case size HxWxD191.8x150.9x34.9mm
PCI (free)0 (0)
PCIe x1 (free)0 (0)
PCIe x16 (free)0 (0)
Serial ATA (free)1x SATA3 (0)
Memory slots (free)1 (0)
Drive bays 2 1/2" (free)1 (0)
Drive bays 3 1/2" (free)0 (0)
Drive bays 5 1/4" (free)0 (0)
Storage
Total storage500GB hard disk
Memory card readerSD, MS, MMC
Optical drive typeNone
Graphics
Graphics cardIntegrated Intel HD Graphics
Graphics/video portsHDMI, VGA
Sound
Sound cardRealtek ALC887
Sound card outputsOptical S/PDIF, headphone, microphone
SpeakersNone
Display
DisplayN/A
Native resolutionN/A
InputsN/A
Other hardware
KeyboardN/A
MouseN/A
ExtrasN/A
Software
Operating systemWindows 8.1
Operating system restore optionRestore partition
Buying information
WarrantyOne-year RTB
Price including delivery (inc VAT)£189
Price excluding monitor (inc VAT and delivery)£189
Supplierwww.scan.co.uk
Detailswww.msi.com
Part CodeDC111 026EU

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