MicroATX MSI board boasts passively cooled Celeron

Passive cooling is the holy grail for folks looking to build quiet PCs. It’s particularly important for home-theater rigs, and MSI has a new motherboard that looks like a good fit for that mission. The C847MS-E33 takes an ultra-low-voltage Celeron processor and NM70 chipset from Intel’s catalog of notebook parts and puts them on a microATX board. Since the CPU has a thermal envelope of only 17W, it can be cooled with an unassuming-looking passive heatsink.

Granted, the Celeron isn’t the fastest chip on the block. This Sandy Bridge-based duallie is clocked at 1.1GHz and features 2MB of L3 cache. The integrated Intel graphics should be sufficient for HD video playback, though, and there’s an HDMI output to connect to your home theater. The board also includes two flavors of S/PDIF digital audio output. It lacks USB 3.0 support, though, and it’s limited to one 6Gbps SATA port and three 3Gbps ones.

MSI includes a Gigabit Ethernet controller and provides plenty of expansion slots. In addition to a PCI Express x16 slot, the board serves up one x1 slot and two old-school PCI slots. Solid-state capacitors are used throughout, and you even get a UEFI firmware.

The C847MS-E33 doesn’t appear to be selling online just yet, but I’d expect it to be inexpensive. People are only going to pay so much for a Celeron that barely eclipses the gigahertz mark. That said, it is worth spending a little bit extra to get a real CPU instead of settling for an Atom-based system. Kudos to MSI for coming up with a passively cooled motherboard that doesn’t scrape the absolute bottom of the CPU barrel.  And thanks to FanlessTech for the tip.

Comments closed
    • voodootronix
    • 7 years ago

    Aren’t there 17w Ivy Bridge parts? Are they not available in desktop-style boards?

      • Tweety
      • 7 years ago

      No. Intel only release SB part.

    • LoneWolf15
    • 7 years ago

    Mistakes:

    PCI slots – Because modern RAID controllers and other cool things take PCIe slots, and you might want to use the x16 for something else.
    Lack of USB3.0 or eSATA for an external drive if necessary

    This might be a great home server board, but those limitations kill it.

    Not quite sure why the serial port is there either unless there was some router programming angle or more likely, embedded function I’m not aware of (like selling to OEMs for SFF PCs in environments that use legacy peripherals).

    • derFunkenstein
    • 7 years ago

    The lack of QuickSync is going to make video encoding hard on this system. Even if it adds 50% to the price, getting a mobile LV i5 would have been worthwhile for an HTPC.

      • BobbinThreadbare
      • 7 years ago

      But quick sync has pretty awful image quality.

        • willmore
        • 7 years ago

        Drop in an AMD video card for some OpenCL enabled Handbrake goodness?

          • Deanjo
          • 7 years ago

          It looks like there is quite a while before Handbrake with openCL will be released (if ever). Last time I checked with the developers they were wondering if it was going to be even worthwhile to actually release one since the performance they were getting was about equivalent to an i5’s raw cpu encoding power.

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 7 years ago

    1) Like the NUC (that’s not passive), this thing needs USB 3. This needs to stop being seen as optional and should be considered mandatory for 2013. The sooner, the better. Not just for the speeds, but also the power increase it allows for devices. This helps with the lack of eSATA (dead) or Thunderbolt (niche).
    2) One PCI is all that’s needed. No more. Maybe less.
    3) In 2013, something like this would be great… if it’s running some lower power variant of Haswell. I can just imagine a NUC built around that kinda platform. No fans, the ability to dart and not linger in high speeds, low power, small size. Of course, that wouldn’t be like this product, there wouldn’t be PCIe, but another company could easily make something like it.
    4) This thing needs a better iGPU than the most horrible, basic one on the lowest of the low Intel CPU’s.

    Against the value argument of AMD, that’s the thing that kills Intel’s value CPU’s. Their iGPU’s suck. If Intel is serious about pushing forward on destroying dGPU’s, then they really, really, REALLY need to start putting the highest of the high end GPU’s on their lowest CPU’s at least as a common option to help publicly sell the idea that dGPU’s are mostly for the hardcore. So long as every single line of Intel CPU’s isn’t selling the idea, the perception that dGPU’s are needed will continue. This is the overall larger argument, though.

    This product really needs Haswell or Broadwell to really shine. Even some lower power IB-based chips like those recently rumored to be in the works would do wonders here. It’s great to see this first step. This is like a prototype and it shows where faster chips will go and probably not too long from now.

    However, most often there will be fans in a system like this. For most use cases, they’re just taking them off the cpu/mb and relying on a PSU or a case fan (or two). Build a system of no fans (fanless cpu/mb, fanless psu, fanless case, fanless dGPU) and you’ll probably better if the case is heavily vented.

    • Walkintarget
    • 7 years ago

    I have a hard time understanding the fascination with fan output noise when it comes to an HTPC. I have a Scythe rev B Shuriken cooling mine and the only noise I EVER hear coming from it is when the optical drive initially spins up.
    Once the movie starts and the 5.1 speakers kick in, I can guarantee you that you won’t hear anything from most HTPCs. Speaker volume – you are doing it wrong.

    Quoting my late Father, who liked using this phrase: ‘Son, I like my music loud and my women quiet’.

    I guess I got that from him along with that make pattern baldness too 🙁

      • jeffcutsinger
      • 7 years ago

      Way to sexism.

        • Walkintarget
        • 7 years ago

        See, that’s the thing .. my Dad was as far from sexist as can be. If you knew him you’d laugh at his comment because it was so unlike him.

          • jeffcutsinger
          • 7 years ago

          Glad to hear he wasn’t generally a sexist.

          That saying is still sexist, though.

      • ludi
      • 7 years ago

      Dynamic range…you are doing it wrong.

      • nanoflower
      • 7 years ago

      Except that male pattern baldness comes from your mom and not your dad.

      As for the HTPC it’s true that with much content the noise from a fan wouldn’t be noticed when the content is playing but what about during quiet segments or when there isn’t any media playing. You really want the HTPC to be as close to completely silent as possible when nothing is playing.

    • NeelyCam
    • 7 years ago

    Depends on the price, I guess, but overall this seems like a rather worthless product. Some suggestions:

    1) Add USB3
    2) Replace at least one PCI port with PCIe
    3) Replace SB with IB
    4) Go mITX

      • chuckula
      • 7 years ago

      1-3 can happen once Ivy Bridge Celerons and associated chipsets hit the market.
      4. could happen even with this setup if they cut-out the PCI expansion.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 7 years ago

      Seriously – a Celeron? For just playback I guess the graphics are OK but couldn’t we get something with QuickSync?

      • WhatMeWorry
      • 7 years ago

      5) Replace Celeron with i7-3970X

      • Tweety
      • 7 years ago

      Pay more for USB3.0 on this low end board? I would buy B75 board instead.

    • swaaye
    • 7 years ago

    tehomg is that Celery soldered to the board? End of Sockets Is Here!!!1 😉

    • b1candy
    • 7 years ago

    Looks like TR completely missed the mini-ITX version which is listed on MSI’s website.

    [url<]http://www.msi.com/product/mb/C847IS-P33.html#/?div=Basic[/url<]

      • Chrispy_
      • 7 years ago

      It’s not especially passive, or at least the picture includes an HSF 🙁

    • dpaus
    • 7 years ago

    What are these ‘PCI slots’ you speak of?

      • MadManOriginal
      • 7 years ago

      Something or other from the last century, along with 1.1GHz desktop CPUs.

        • Ryhadar
        • 7 years ago

        And serial ports.

          • dpaus
          • 7 years ago

          Yeah, if it just had a parallel printer port, I’d be all over it.

            • internetsandman
            • 7 years ago

            MSI has been including both on its low end boards even for 1155 and recent low end FM2 and AM3+ boards. The reasoning to include them baffles me, I thought they had been relegated to cheap business motherboards, not consumer products

          • Deanjo
          • 7 years ago

          Serial ports are still heavily used especially in low power devices. There is still a ton of stuff that can be done with them and they are dead easy to program for. If you look at other low power small devices one of most common thing that hobbyists look to add on is a serial connectivity. Even in the HTPC arena serial still has it’s purposes such as controlling the AV hardware (many higher end receivers offer serial connectivity as do many set top boxes) or you own hand made devices such as an LIRC receiver or home automation control panels.

          Granted there isn’t a lot of call for an average computer user but for a hobbyist a serial port adds a ton of customization with an easy to develop for interface.

    • ludi
    • 7 years ago

    17W TDP…not bad, could reduce the chassis down to a single fan (PSU or otherwise).

    • Chrispy_
    • 7 years ago

    Nice, but that’s just begging to be cut down to a mITX board.

    MSI’s “clean” layout means that lopping off old PCI slots leaves you with a functional, modern solution that’ll fit beautifully into a little nettop or HTPC case.

      • Squeazle
      • 7 years ago

      Yeah, basically cut off the PCI slots and you’re there.

      • Tweety
      • 7 years ago

      Look like the board is for low end market who are still using com and PCI device.

    • chuckula
    • 7 years ago

    This is the type of form factor that will become more useful as more SoC-like chips (low-power Haswell & Broadwell) come onto the market.

    I already have a passively cooled Atom that works very well as a storage server, and this thing would wipe the floor with that box. The PCIe expansion is nice if you want a beefier passive-cooled GPU too.

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