MSI C847IS-P33 Mainboard
All mini-ITX mainboards have a lot of things in common. And they even look alike if they’ve got an integrated processor. Therefore the only visual difference about the MSI C847IS-P33 is its PCI Express x1 slot which is usually replaced with an ordinary PCI (in case of Atom-based mainboards) or PCI Express x16 (in case of mainboards with AMD E series processors). The integrated Celeron 847 makes the MSI mainboard different in another, even though not obvious, way. Like any Sandy Bridge, it features a dual-channel memory controller whereas the other integrated platforms only have a single-channel controller. That’s why it makes sense to fill both DDR DIMM slots of the MSI C847IS-P33 with memory sticks.
The cooling system deployed on the MSI C847IS-P33 is indicative of a rather advanced processor as the Celeron 847 carries a larger-than-usual cooler. Secured with screws, the cooler has a fan which works at a constant speed of 5600 RPM, producing an audible rattle. The speed cannot be regulated because the fan uses a 3-pin connection whereas the mainboard only supports PWM-based regulation. So, if you’re going to use the MSI C847IS-P33 in a home PC, you may want to replace its default cooler. The nearby chipset is cooled by a small heatsink with barely noticeable finning. That should be enough considering the low heat dissipation of the NM70 chip.
The power system of the MSI C847IS-P33 is rather primitive but there’s no point in discussing it at length. The mainboard doesn’t support CPU overclocking anyway. We can only note that you have to connect a 4-pin 12V ATX power cable to it. The mainboard wouldn’t work without that, unlike its Atom-based counterparts.
MSI intends the C847IS-P33 for small form-factor PCs in the first place, judging by the selection of its onboard headers. There are but two SATA ports and only one of them is 6 Gbit/s. There are two USB headers but the mainboard doesn’t support USB 3.0. The MSI C847IS-P33 lacks any additional controllers, owing all of its functionality to the chipset.
That’s why there are but few connectors on its back panel, too: four USB 2.0 ports, PS/2 sockets for mouse and keyboard, a Gigabit Ethernet port (it works via a Realtek RT L8111E controller), and three analog audio sockets. An eight-channel Realtek ALC887 codec is used but the shortage of audio connectors means you can only use 6-channel speaker systems. The MSI C847IS-P33 has no SPDIF output but allows connecting two monitors via an analog VGA port and a digital DVI-D.
The MSI C847IS-P33 seems to be limited in functionality but it has an attractive price. Coupled with the integrated Celeron 847, it comes at a recommended $75, which is less than you’re asked to pay for most solutions with AMD E series or Intel Atom processors.
It wouldn’t be right to criticize anything about a mainboard which is that inexpensive, yet its BIOS is just too abridged. The interface is text-based, even though with added mouse support. The number of setup options is so limited that you will hardly have any need to enter this BIOS at all. The mainboard doesn’t allow you to tweak any frequencies or voltages. You cannot control CPU technologies or correct the memory operation mode selected by the mainboard. In fact, the BIOS interface only lets you manage the integrated device controllers.
There is a hardware monitoring section, too. The mainboard reports system and CPU temperatures and supports PWM-based speed regulation for two fans. But the default fan installed on the CPU heatsink cannot be regulated since it uses a 3-pin connection.
The specifications of the MSI C847IS-P33 are summarized in the following table: