I will say that 90% of the time external mounting will be a gain.
There are several reasons for this.
1) Smoother airflow in the box
2) Smoother airflow between the air mass inside the box and the air mass in the port
3) Easier tuning changes (which can greatly increase your score)
The one big BIG thing you need to test with an external port is different lengths. This can GREATLY affect your score. Just because a box is "tuned" to a certain frequency does not mean it will peak at that frequency. I've had some boxes gain anywhere from 1-4 dB just by changing the port length.
The nice thing about having the ports mounted externally is that they are easily changeable. Also, when you change the length you won't be changing the net volume of the enclosure like you would be if the ports are mounted internally. Just one other benefit of externally mounting them.
As for 45's and bracing, I advise to test the enclosure absolutely PLAIN before doing anything to it. This includes resin. You won't know what hurts or helps you if you don't have a baseline number to go off of.
Also, don't neglect the outside of the box as well. Rounding off corners, resin, etc. on the outside the enclosure can help as well.
10 inches of terror
One DD 9510F + one kicker zx2500=150+ db
One Sundown SA-8 + 2 mb quart 2000's = 150+ db
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-2006, 2007, 2009, and 2010 MECA World Champion
-2008 Bassrace 130-139.9 National Champion