PC Specialist's Aurelia is a compact Windows media centre PC that tracks the design of the Apple Mac mini.
For storage, the PC Specialist Aurelia Media Centre uses a 160GB 2.5in hard disk, and takes 2GB of memory, both more generous than the Mac mini's allocation of 120GB and 1GB respectively. Graphics controller is courtesy of Intel, a simple GMA X4500MHD integrated chip that's not exactly noted for excellence in playing modern 3D games.
The construction of the PC Specialist Aurelia Media Centre certainly feels solid, based around a well-finished brushed aluminium case sporting high-quality black anodising, all topped with a glossy black plastic lid.
Small enough to fit in any lounge - the PC Specialist Aurelia Media Centre PC
Unlike the Mac mini, it's relatively easy to get inside the case. You just need a crosshead screwdriver and a little patience to tease the chassis apart, rather than the putty knife and plenty of perseverance that Apple's mini demands.
And once you are in, both RAM and hard disk in the PC Specialist Aurelia Media Centre are a little more accessible too, although the miniaturised construction and fine interconnecting wires within still make user upgrades somewhat fraught.
For most customers, the simplest option is to have the Aurelia Media Centre built to your requirements using PC Specialist's online ‘configurator'. For example, hard discs up to 500GB and memory of up to 4GB can be specified at time of purchase. You can also add a Blu-ray ROM/DVD±RW combo drive for an extra £122.
We put the PC Specialist Aurelia Media Centre to the WorldBench 6 real-world speed test, and saw a score of 80 points - a good result and one typical for a modern 2GHz Intel dual-core laptop.
The latest Mac mini, by way of comparison, scored 72 points, but was hobbled here by its reduced 1GB of RAM; fine for Mac OS X, but not nearly enough for memory-hungry Vista, the environment we use for WorldBench testing. With more RAM on board, the same Mac mini hit 83 points.
The key point is that the CPU of either of these 2GHz PCs is up to the task of decoding high-definition video, earning their credentials as capable media hubs.
Gaming is not really an option for the PC Specialist Aurelia Media Centre though. We saw just 4 frames per second in our usual FEAR 3D-graphics game test. Even reducing every available quality setting to minimum, the framerate only reached an average of 19fps.
Power consumption of the PC Specialist Aurelia Media Centre, while low by tower PC standards, was a tad higher than the 15W Mac mini: 18W when idle, rising to 34W under peak draw.
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