Arbico and CyberPower have submitted very similar larger-size media PCs in almost identical cases, both using AMD processing power. See all media centre PC reviews.

Arbico’s eXcel A2540 Media Centre is built using Silverstone’s Grandia GD04 small form-factor PC case. At 440 by 150 by 323mm, it’s reasonably compact, but still considerably larger than most of the systems reviewed here. You certainly won’t be throwing it in a bag and taking it with you on visits to friends. Go to Group test: What's the best media centre PC?

The Grandia GD04 is designed to blend in with your existing AV equipment and its minimalist, brushed-aluminium fascia is better looking than a standard Windows PC. Only the pair of exposed front-facing USB 3.0 ports betray it as a PC at all. This panel is also home to power and reset buttons along with a tray-loading Blu-ray writer. Take a look at Apple Mac mini (Late 2012) review.

Inside the system is powered by a dual-core AMD A6-5400K Black Edition processor which integrates Radeon HD 7540D graphics. It’s not the most powerful of chips, but entirely appropriate for a media centre which won’t be doubling up as a gaming PC or performing other more demanding duties. It feels responsive to use, thanks to the 120GB SSD which complements a 2TB hard disk. Gaming performance is also faster than the Intel-based systems thanks to AMD’s graphics expertise.

A single-tuner Freeview HD card is included. The usual selection of outputs includes HDMI, audio line out and S/PDIF audio. Arbico has provided a Windows Media Center remote and Logitech K400 Wireless Touch Keyboard. This adds a 3.5in touchpad so you can operate the PC comfortably from your lap.

Although adequate for media-centre use, the performance of this system isn’t great. PCMark returned an overall score of 3332 points, but the Entertainment section scored a disappointing 2395. Low benchmark scores are not terminal, but this disappointing result is ironically allied to continuous and conspicuous fan noise. It’s quieter than a standard PC, but chances are this PC will make its presence known in your lounge.

Arbico eXcel A2540 Media Centre: Specs

  • Processor: AMD A6-5400K Black Edition APU (3.6GHZ) 2 cores,2 threads
  • CPU Cooler: Scythe Shuriken CPU Cooler
  • Installed memory: 8GB Corsair Vengeance DDR3 1,600MHz
  • Storage: 120GB OCZ SATA 6Gbps SSD, Seagate 2TB SATA HDD
  • Power supply: Xigmatek 400W PSU
  • Motherboard: ASUS F2A85-M LE
  • External USB ports: 4 x Back USB 2.0 Ports, 2 x USB 3.0 Ports
  • Graphics card: AMD Radeon HD 7540D integrated graphics
  • TV card: Compro VideoMate T220 DVB-T TV Tuner Card
  • Networking: gigabit ethernet
  • Audio outputs: S/PDIF,Headphone,Mic, Line out
  • Audio inputs: Line in, S/PDIF, mic, HDMI audio
  • Video outputs: 1 x VGA, 1x DVI, 1 X HDMI
  • Other ports: 1 x PS/2 Port, 1 x eSATA Port
  • Case: Silverstone Grandia GD04 Case
  • Keyboard & Mouse: Logitech K400 Wireless Touch Keyboard
  • Remote control: TV Tuner / Media Centre Remote
  • Optical drive: LG Blu Ray Writer/HD DVD Reader/DVD+/- RW (GGW-H20L)
  • Operating system: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • Processor: AMD A6-5400K Black Edition APU (3.6GHZ) 2 cores,2 threads
  • CPU Cooler: Scythe Shuriken CPU Cooler
  • Installed memory: 8GB Corsair Vengeance DDR3 1,600MHz
  • Storage: 120GB OCZ SATA 6Gbps SSD, Seagate 2TB SATA HDD
  • Power supply: Xigmatek 400W PSU
  • Motherboard: ASUS F2A85-M LE
  • External USB ports: 4 x Back USB 2.0 Ports, 2 x USB 3.0 Ports
  • Graphics card: AMD Radeon HD 7540D integrated graphics
  • TV card: Compro VideoMate T220 DVB-T TV Tuner Card
  • Networking: gigabit ethernet
  • Audio outputs: S/PDIF,Headphone,Mic, Line out
  • Audio inputs: Line in, S/PDIF, mic, HDMI audio
  • Video outputs: 1 x VGA, 1x DVI, 1 X HDMI
  • Other ports: 1 x PS/2 Port, 1 x eSATA Port
  • Case: Silverstone Grandia GD04 Case
  • Keyboard & Mouse: Logitech K400 Wireless Touch Keyboard
  • Remote control: TV Tuner / Media Centre Remote
  • Optical drive: LG Blu Ray Writer/HD DVD Reader/DVD+/- RW (GGW-H20L)
  • Operating system: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

OUR VERDICT

The Arbico eXcel offers some great features such as a Blu-ray writer, capacious 2GB disk storage, and a 120GB SSD for real responsiveness. However, processor performance is lacklustre and audible fans make it undesirable when quiet systems are available.

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