Watching digital content in your living room, it remains a challenge sometimes. Of course there are plenty of media players, settop boxes, smart TVs, intelligent Blu-ray players and the old favourite, the HTPC. The home theatre PC is the most flexible, but until now also the largest in size, which can be a drawback in the living room. Arctic has attempted to solve that problem, by creating an HTPC that is the size of a media player. Hardware.Info tested the Arctic MC101.
A year ago at the IFA fair Arctic displayed HTPC products in the midst of their processor and graphics card coolers. Like other manufacturers, Arctic is also trying its hand at diversifying the products it has on offer. In this case it's applying its experience in the area of coolers in other products. The Atom- and Fusion-based HTPCs from 2011 were entirely passively cooled, but the MC101 reviewed here has a small fan, along with much more powerful hardware.
Atom- and Fusion-based systems fell short as HTPC, but the MC101 does not. Neither processor had enough processing power to be able to do the video post-processing needed, which is a disadvantage especially for interlaced and standard definition content still frequently broadcast on 'HD' channels.
For the MC101 Arctic used the mobile version of AMD's Trinity platform, and the A10-4600 processor is more than fast enough to be able to handle the various post-processing techniques. The MC101 comes barebone in different versions, with different processor models. You can also buy it as a complete system, but that will cost you about £520 for a model with 8 GB of memory and a 1 TB hard drive. It does include a license for Windows 7 Home Premium.
The Arctic MC101 is characterised by a stylish design, with a thick aluminium cover. It makes it look very solid and nice, but Arctic could have done something with the edges and corners because they are quite sharp. The front has an IR receiver, and an on/off button at the top that lights up in blue when the device is active. On the right there is an SD memory card reader, a combined eSATA/USB 2.0 port, a USB 3.0 port and an 3.5 mm audio jack.
You can find the rest of the review on Hardware.Info.