A very cheap mini PC
The MSI Wind Box DC111 is an incredibly cheap mini Windows 8.1 PC that’s roughly the size of a router. Although we’ve seen even smaller mini PCs, this is still impressively compact. The DC111 comes with a stand as it needs to be kept upright due to the cooling vents on both sides, but it doesn’t come with a keyboard, mouse or monitor. The stand angles the DClll’s four front USB 2.0 ports and audio jacks upwards for easy connection. All other ports are at the rear and include two USB 3.0 connectors, a Gigabit Ethernet port, a HDMI connector and a VGA port. However, we found it far too easy to inadvertently press the power button when turning the PC around to access the rear ports. Another annoyance is the close proximity of the USB 3.0 ports to the HDMI port. Attempting to plug in a particularly chunky cable or USB stick was often a tight, fiddly fit.
The DC111 comes equipped with a dual-core 1.8GHz Intel Celeron 1037U processor and 4GB of memory. It’s fast enough for basic tasks, such as web browsing and office work, but far too slow for photo and video editing. Just using Windows sometimes proved to be a chore, with programs slow to open and respond. 3D graphics performance is also far from ideal due to the lacklustre Intel integrated graphics chip.
Even if you’re willing to put up with this slow performance, the noise can be intrusive. The fans produce a distracting high-pitched noise when the processor is grappling with demanding programs.
Even if cracking open the slim casing didn’t void the one-year warranty, the MSI Wind Box isn’t designed to be upgraded. You can’t add any more memory and if the 500GB hard drive isn’t large enough, it’s far easier to use external hard drives rather than attempting to replace the internal one.
The MSI Wind Box DC111 is a cheap, space-saving PC, but it’s far from perfect. The design of its casing could’ve been better thought out, while its performance is only sufficient for basic tasks and there’s little upgrade potential. Unless you need a new Windows mini PC right now, you’re much better off waiting for the new generation of budget mini PCs coming from other manufacturers such as HP and Acer.
An impressively small and cheap PC, but you’ll have to be very forgiving of its numerous flaws.
1.8GHz Intel Celeron 1037U dual-core processor • 4GB memory • 500GB hard drive • Intel integrated graphics chip • 802.11b/g/n • Windows 8.1 • 192x151x35mm (HxWxD) • One-year warranty