MSI’s got a nice new mainboard and CPU solution if you’ve been thinking about building your own HTPC or a budget-minded desktop. The J1800i comes with an integrated Bay Trail Celeron processor, and it’s got a suggested retail price of just $60.
The j1800i is very similar to the ECS BAT-I. It features a 64-bit dual-core chip clocked at 2.41Ghz, and only a small aluminum heatsink is required for cooling. With a TDP of just 10W, the Celeron J1800 isn’t going to throw a whole lot of heat. Flanking the CPU on MSI’s new mini board are dual DIMM slots that can accommodate a maximum of 8GB of DDR3 RAM.
You’re limited to two SATA ports for storage, as it doesn’t look like MSI has included an mSATA socket on the j1800i. You’ve got plenty of display options, though, with VGA, DVI, and HDMI all at the ready. Legacy PS/2 keyboard and mouse ports are also provided, as are a pair of USB 3.0 ports, four USB 2.0 ports, and a gigabit Ethernet port (sorry, no dual NICs here).
While the MSI j1800i is priced very reasonably at $60, and even after you add in a case and power supply you’re still only around $110. That’s quite a bit cheaper than Intel’s Celeron-based NUC. Add $75 to max out the RAM and pop in your drive, and you’ve got yourself a complete mini-desktop or HTPC for around $250.
Need more power? MSI is also planning to offer a version that features a quad-core Intel j1850 Celeron. It’ll cost you just ten dollars more, which is pretty good bang for your buck.
Update: Fanless Tech found new Intel J1800 boards from Biostar and Gigabyte. They’ll also sell for around $60.