MSI Media Live

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MSI Media Live
Front panel connections
Rear panel connections

MSI Media Live MS-6421

The MSI Media Live barebone features:

7-in-1 Flash Card Reader

The Card reader supports CF/SD/MS/MS-Pro/SM/MMC/MD memory cards. This card reader supports booting from flash cards.

Slot Loading Optical Drive

The slot-load optical drive provides an extremely easy and convenient way of inserting or ejecting the disk. [May require slight adjusting of mounting height for smooth operation.]

Fancy LED

The fancy LED is a status-displaying panel that easily shows the status details of the DVD, music, pictures, TV programs and messages. The VFD is the Futaba DM-140gink.

Full set of connecting ports

It comes with full set of connecting ports including USB and IEEE 1394 ports, as well as a DV output, S-video port, and multi-channel audio output, which support the connection to most of the consumer electronics such as TVs and stereo sets. See image at right for details.

Full specs of the barebone on


The package includes a CPU cooler, the DVD player and a MCE remote type 2

A key component of the box is the Futaba DM-140gink PCB. It's a combined USB based device with the following functionality:

  • Vacuum Fluorescent Display (VFD). Referred to as "Fancy LED" on MSI's product description.
  • Infrared receiver (bundled with Microsoft Remote Control version 2-1039 with red/green/yellow/blue buttons; see the MythTV wiki MCE remote for details)
  • Wireless NIC (Optional) (Wifi 802.11 B/G (Ralink chipset RT2571WF))
  • Front panel buttons (Stop/Play/Replay/Rew/Fwd/Skip)
  • Bluetooth v2.0 + EDR

See the Futaba page for instructions on enabling the hardware listed above.

See the Configuring Digital Sound page for hints about configuring different audio out options.

BIOS Update

This unit is still shipping (as of 12/7/2008) with a beta version of the BIOS (as evidenced by a message that appears on power-up that says "not suitable for production"). Update to the latest BIOS version from MSI's website first thing before you do anything else.

The unit does not come with a floppy drive, and the only way to flash the BIOS using MSI's flash program is from DOS. Unless you have a bootable DOS CD-ROM laying around somewhere (doesn't everyone?) you'll need to create one, or even better, create a "DOS floppy" on a USB flashdrive. Neither of these options is simple, and I wasted about four hours figuring out how to do this on my own, so now you don't have to!

Download this handy USB key drive imaging tool from HP (for Windows):

It says it is for HP USB drives, but I used it with a non-HP drive, no problem. When you run the tool, be sure to choose the option to simulate a floppy. It will prompt you for a floppy image to put on the drive, and you can use the one I made which includes version 1.63 of the BIOS (the most current as of this writing).

Now just pop your USB drive in one of the available ports on your MSI Media Live, power up, and run the flash.bat file included in AMIBIOS folder on your flash drive and follow the on-screen directions.

NOTE: If a newer version of the BIOS becomes available, you can easily replace the version in this image by connecting your flash drive to your PC and simply copying the new files from MSI onto your "boot floppy".

Tested setups

MSI Barebone Media Live

AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ 2.0GHz HT 1MB AM2 65W Box

Hauppauge WinTV-PVR-500MCE Stereo Bulk

Kingston 1GB DDR2 SDRAM PC4200 CL4.0

Western Digital 400GB SATA300 16MB, WD4000KS

Trust KB-2950 wireless keyboard

Geeko head48.png openSUSE 10.2

MSI Barebone Media Live (GrahamMurphy)

AMD Athlon X2 BE-2350 2.1GHz HT 1M AM2 45W Box

Hauppauge WinTV Nova-TD 500 PCI

2x Crucial 512 MB DDR2 800 MHz PC2-6400 CL4

Samsung SpinPoint HD501LJ 500GB SATA300 16MB Cache

Mythbuntu.pngMythBuntu 9.04

MSI Barebone Media Live

AMD Athlon X2 5200+ 2.7GHz AM2 65N

Hauppauge PVR-500MCE

Mushkin DDR2-800 1GB RAM

Samsung SpinPoint 320GB 7200rpm SATA2 HD

Microsoft MCE Remote Kit

CentOSplus 5.1

MSI Barebone Media Live

AMD Athlon X2 4400+ 2.3GHz HT 1M AM2 45W Box

2x WINTEC 1GB 240-Pin DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) RAM

Western Digital Caviar GP WD10EACS 1TB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA2 Hard Drive

Mythbuntu.pngMythBuntu 8.04

MSI Barebone Media Live

AMD Athlon X2 4850e 2.5GHz AM2 45W OEM

Kingston 1GB (2 x 512MB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 667 (PC2 5300) RAM

Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 ST380815AS 80GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive

Mythbuntu.pngMythBuntu 8.10

Video out

Note 1

SCART Out Jumper: CN1 & CN2 (for SCART Out board)

The CN1 Jumper determines the aspect ratio of TV display. You can display external source with 4:3 aspect ratio by shorting 1-2 pin and display external source with 16:9 aspect ratio by shorting 2-3 pin. The CN2 jumper determines the external video source display. You can display external composite video source by shorting 1-2 pin. see manual 2-18

Note 2

TV Mode support in the Bios

Select the TV standard which is used as the video signal format of your TV if you have connected a TV to the system. Setting this may force the output to S-Video, which could cause loss of colour if you use a composite connection. Available setting options are:

Setting Description
[NTSC_M] This format is used in United States, Canada and Taiwan.
[NTSC_J] This format is used in Japan.
[PAL_M] This format is used in Brazil.
[PAL_BDGHI] This format is used in Singapore and Asia.
[PAL_N] This format is used in Argentina and Bolivia.
[PAL_NC] This format is used in Argentina.
[Default] The value that the operating system assumes.

HDMI Video out

The following xorg.conf settings provides HDMI video output for me. The settings are not optimal and possibly flawed, but they should get X11 started after which you can optimize the settings with nvidia-settings.

 Section "Screen"
   Identifier     "Default Screen"
   Device         "Generic Video Card"
   Monitor        "Generic Monitor"
   DefaultDepth    24
   Option         "DPI" "100x100"
   Option         "UseEvents" "1"
   Option         "AddARGBVisuals" "1"
   Option         "AddARGBGLXVisuals" "1"
   Option         "NoLogo" "1"
   Option         "UseDisplayDevice" "DFP-0"
   Option         "ConnectedMonitor" "DFP-0"
   Option         "UseEDID" "TRUE"
   Option         "TVOutFormat" "COMPONENT"
   Option         "metamodes" "CRT: 1280x720 +0+0" ##720p##
   Option         "TVStandard" "HD720p"
   SubSection     "Display"
    Depth       24
    Modes      "1920x1080+60" "1280x720_60" "1024x768" "720x480" "800x600" "640x480"

The screen identifier should match the ServerLayout Screen setting.

HDMI Audio Out

To get the HDMI Audio working I did this

(1) Upgraded the bios to the latest version (1.61 - not checked with earlier versions but they may work)

(2) Set Enabled 8ch Audio to DISABLED in the BIOS.

(3) Unmute 'IEC958' in 'alsamixer'

(4) Then in Myth set the audio output as ALSA:spdif (under Utilities/Setup -> General


MythTV support is good as far as tested

- HDMI video working. HDMI audio working (see above)
- ACPI Wakeup works fine.
- Update using the latest BIOS file from the MSI website. There are still shipping with pre-release BIOS versions.  
  - (Look for "unsuitable for production use" message on boot instead of MSI logo). 
  - It appears newer versions of the BIOS disable Firewire by default. Re-enable if you need it.
- Some adjustment of the DVD drive may be necessary for smooth operation. Remove the front panel to access the screws.
- See note below on reversing CPU cooling fan flow.

Things to do if you are going to use this set-up:

- Make sure you use the lasts IVTV drivers if you have type B tuners on the PVR-500

- Get the latest from the mythTV NVidia Proprietary Driver page

- Get drivers for the wireless device from the Futaba DM-140gink page

Note about the built-in IR receiver:

Reports[1] indicate that the built-in IR receiver appears to have limited range/response. At distances of 6-8ft, even though the receiver's red LED indicates that it is receiving the IR pulse, the transmitted code is often 'heard' by lircd after a few second delay. Increasing the distance between the transmitter and receiver further, or transmitting at angles over 15-20 degrees away from center-axis in any direction causes the code not to be heard at all (though red LED confirms receipt).

Update: The IR receiver problem is actually a problem with the enclosure, not the driver or hardware. If you pop out the charcoal lens from the front panel, the IR receiver works fine.

Hardware "Optimisations"

Cooling system

The Media Live is designed to operate with just two quiet fans, keeping the overall level of noise down. However the CPU cooler provided is designed to suck cold air in through the top of the case, and then exhaust the heated air into the case. For lower power processors, this may not be the most effective cooling. The fan in the cooler can be flipped through 180degrees in order to exhaust the hot air through the top of the case, rather than into the case. To do so, carefully unclip the large black plastic surround from around the top of the radiator assembly and pull off. This will allow the fan and its capture assembly to slide out sideways. Remove the fan capture assembly from the fan, flip the fan through 180 degrees and realign the capture assembly. Putting it back together is simply a case of re-inserting the fan assembly under the radiator and then clipping the black plastic housing back on again.

Dependant on the CPU, this can result in lower internal temperatures, which can be useful, given how hot some tuners run.

PCI/PCI express

The motherboard provided has a 1x PCI express socket, but this is masked by the PCI riser. It MAY be possible to replace the PCI riser with a PCI express riser and thus use the PCI express functionality. This hasn't been tested yet (to my knowledge).

Possible Pricing / Parts Needed

I (Moosylog) am planning on using this case to replace my Xbox frontend. This list of parts might help others. Newegg has been within a couple of dollars on all parts, and I trust them and would rather buy everything from one place - hence all the newegg links. With four Gigs of RAM, I will likely load the whole OS into RAM and just use the USB drive for booting. I'm also considering just PXE booting the whole thing and not having any disk at all.

Part Link Price Description
Open Box Case $279.99 MSI Media Live AMD Socket AM2 NVIDIA GeForce 6150LE Barebone
Processor $44.99 AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ Windsor 2.0GHz 2 x 512KB L2 Cache Socket AM2 65W Dual-Core Processor - OEM
4GB RAM $71.98 (2x$35.99) (2x) A-DATA Value Series 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory - Retail
4GB Flash Drive $14.99 A-DATA 4GB Flash Drive (USB2.0 Portable) Model RB1 2.0 4G - Retail
HDMI cable $6.99 KINGWIN 6 ft. (1800 mm) HDMI Male to HDMI Male Cable Model HDMIC-01 - Retail
Total $418.94 (plus shipping)

External Links