A single fan header is available apart from the one needed for the CPU cooler. It’s a limitation but most likely more than enough for most mATX cases. There are a few peculiarities about the Speedster however. The first one is a jumper that enables you to change the power provided to the integrated graphics controller. By increasing this from 1.05V to 1.5V MSI claims that you get better graphics performance – presumably in 3D applications. Then there is a set of three jumpers that has to be configured correctly depending on the type of CPU you have. This could be tricky as MSI only lists the Intel code names in the manual, not the specific CPU models.
Another sign of the server department’s involvement in developing this board is the presence of a 24-pin power connector. By contrast, the AOpen i915GMm-HFS only featured a standard 20-pin ATX connector. In a sense this was an advantage as it gave you a wider choice of PSUs to choose from as only more recent PSUs offer a 24-pin connector, so check before you pair up this board with your PSU. A +12V four-pin connector is also present and needs to be connected for the board to boot.
Using the same 2.13GHz Pentium M 770 as I used to test the i915GMm-HFS with, I was astonished that the Speedster lived up to its name by being four points faster in SYSMark 2004. Oddly enough the score dropped by one point when I added a GeForce 6800GT card, which isn’t usually the case when you add a dedicated graphics card in favour of integrated graphics.
The Speedster continued to outperform the i915GMm-HFS in PCMark 2004. It seems like the extra power to the integrated graphics makes a difference as once again the Speedster is ahead of the i915GMm-HFS.
At £149.99 there is very little between the Speedster and the i915GMm-HFS in terms of cost, but there are different applications for the two boards. The Speedster could be used in an everyday PC as long as you’re willing to sacrifice some performance compared to more conventional processors in order to get the benefits of a low noise system.
MSI has brought to market an interesting desktop alternative with the 915GM Speedster-FA4, which offers a full set of features in a small and quiet package.