Arbico’s little media centre packs plenty into a small case too. Inside, Asus’ E35M1-I Deluxe motherboard comes with an AMD E-350 processor pre-installed and is fitted with a huge heatsink which covers most of the motherboard’s surface, keeping all components cool without the need for a fan.
This Mini ITX motherboard is suited to Arbico’s compact Zippy system case. It’s the only PC in this round-up designed to stand vertically rather than horizontally, and has the Blu-ray drive also mounted vertically – making it fiddly to use.
As a Media Centre, the Zippy X35 performs adequately, but if you want to put it to any general-purposes computing tasks you will find it to be considerably slower than any of the competition. Our WorldBench 6 test returned a score of only 57 points – more than two times slower than most PCs in this category.
The system consumes relatively little power, idling at around 27W, considerably less power-hungry than all but Apple’s Mac mini. Graphics processing is integrated within the E-350 processor, providing Direct X11 capabilities and accelerated playback of HD content.
A Compro E750 dual-tuner DVB-T card provides recording and playback facilities on two stations simultaneously from Freeview digital terrestrial. It also comes with an infrared remote control, enabling you to operate Windows Media Center from your sofa.
Equally sofa-friendly is the included Logitech K400 Wireless Touch Keyboard. Its diminutive proportions find room for a built-in touchpad and mouse buttons which can be operated easily with a thumb while holding the keyboard in mid-air.
Despite the motherboard’s entirely silent cooling solution there are small fast-spinning fans built into the Zippy case that add enough noise to make the PC as a whole louder in use than Chillblast’s Fusion Avatar Media PC.
- Group test: What's the best £1,000 PC?
- Group test: What's the best desktop PC?
- Apple Mac mini (Early 2012) review