Assembly and Operation
Although the engineering team from MSI tried to make the assembly process as easy as possible, this is still a difficult job, considering the components density inside of the MEGA 865. You need to concentrate your attention and call up your screwdriver skills. It would also be wise to refer to the Quick Installation Guide during the process – it contains step-by-step instructions illustrated with pictures. As usual, the full user manual, in the PDF format, is contained on the enclosed CD.
The MEGA PC is positioned as a home entertainment center, so we didn’t risk transforming it into a high-performance platform, but limited ourselves with a Pentium 4 2.4GHz, 512 megabytes of DDR SDRAM (for the chipset to work in the dual-channel mode) and a Seagate Barracuda ST3160023AS (SATA) HDD of 160GB capacity.
As an experiment, we also installed a PX-708A DVD±R/RW drive from Plextor – remember the queer warning about the compatibility with “native” optical drives only? Although many drives from MSI are realized in the “shortened” form-factor, we had no size-matching problems when installing the Plextor into the case, or any of the other components, for that matter. Troubles sprung up later, when we set to making all this stuff work together. The system just behaved strangely with the optical drive from Plextor, in the both operational modes. For example, the Hi-Fi mode was unavailable altogether and the Eject button would become “sticky” – opening the tray and closing it immediately after.
After we replaced the incompatible Plextor with a CR52-M CD-RW drive from MSI, all the problems described simply vanished. We also tested our MEGA 865 with a Samsung SM-352 CD-RW/DVD-ROM combo and found the system glitch-free, too. Thus, I can only advise you to check out the compatibility question – not every optical drive can work in the MEGA 865.
The heap of cables in the neighborhood of the AGP port gives me some apprehensions – they partially block the airflow taken in by the CPU cooler. We’ll see shortly how this affects the thermal environment in the system case if you install an external graphics card.
The card-reader took the letters “C” and “D” by default. “E” went to the optical drive and the hard disk drive (its boot partition) received the letter “F”. This probably happened because we used a SerialATA hard disk drive. Thus we ended up with a not very convenient arrangement: to correct it, you probably must reinstall Windows, first detaching all the devices, save for the HDD.
The system fans are temperature-dependant. They spin up to their maximum speeds on the start of the system, but as soon as Windows XP begins to boot up, the MEGA 865 gets practically silent. After the installation of the drivers and the MSI Media Theater Deluxe III software, we got the opportunity to use the AM/FM tuner, the display and the remote control in the PC mode.
The choice of a menu item is duplicated on the LED display. The program window is scalable up to the entire screen, so it’s an easy matter to select the operational mode from the remote control, relaxing in your favorite easy chair in the opposite corner of the room. By the way, the software uses the AM/FM tuner in a slightly different way and finds more stations than the firmware in the Hi-Fi mode.