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Arctic MC001-BD Entertainment Center Review (BD/passive)

We have reviewed many Intel ATOM based media centers over the last year, but the Arctic Cooling MC001-BD Entertainment Center is slightly different. It is the first ‘all in one’ system we have reviewed which is completely passively cooled. For this talking point alone, it has been an interesting review.

While we have tested many quiet systems in our labs in recent months, the MC001-BD is going to target a very specific audience – those who are exceptionally sensitive to noise emissions. Whether it is in a living room, or bedroom environment, this Entertainment Center will reside in the corner of the room and no one will ever know it is turned on. There are of course some safety precautions to take into consideration. It should not be installed inside a sealed cabinet with no air flow and the vents should have enough breathing room to passively transfer heat outwards. While this seems like ‘common sense’ there are some people who might not pay attention and position it in a rack under a television with several other pieces of audio equipment on top, blocking the vents. This could be a recipe for disaster, long term.

At the heart of this system is the Intel ATOM D525 processor. This has been designed for general ‘everyday’ duties and high definition media playback, and when used in this manner it is perfectly capable. When pushed hard you begin to see the limitations of the low power technology and it can prove frustrating, especially if you frequently use a media center for more demanding tasks. Equally so the AMD HD5430 is not the ideal solution for gaming, as our testing has indicated, failing to even generate playable frame rates at 720p with some of the less demanding engines on the market, at the lowest possible image quality settings. However, when used as a hardware acceleration device, such as for BluRay discs and HD media files, it helps ensure the smoothest possible frame rates.

Connectivity is first class, with HDMI, USB 3.0, Gigabit Lan, 7:1 audio and wireless capabilities all offered by default. The inclusion of a quality BluRay player and Windows 7 operating system also mean that the end user has very little to tweak or install before it can be used.

The Arctic Cooling MC001-BD is one of the best purchasing decisions if you are looking for a silent, high definition media device for a living or bedroom, but the hardware does limit it in other areas. A trade-off however that a specific audience will not mind making.

Pros:

  • Silent
  • Appearance is quite attractive
  • Windows 7 operating system is part of the bundle, so no install needed
  • low power drain
  • designed for high definition media playback
  • Wireless capabilities are integrated

Cons:

  • Far from ideal for gaming, even at lower settings
  • 32bit operating system, not 64 bit
  • Positioning is critical due to fanless design

Kitguru says: An excellent media center for those people who don’t want to deal with any fan noise at all.


Rating: 8.0.

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  • Peter

    No fans. id live with the lowish performance for that. looks quite nice too. Id best get entering the competition!

  • Frank

    This is purely for media and it works. win for me. I wouldnt buy it for gaming.

    No noise would be great. my girlfriend hates fans and this is quite nice looking. Its a bit bigger than the actively cooled media centers, but that is quite a heatsink over the CPU/GPU area.

  • Francis

    the two tone colour system is odd. Not sure if that would grow on me. you reckon its meant to allow people to ‘pick’ their favourite colour and to rotate it to suit in a living room?

  • Lancaster

    32 bit Windows 7? what a weird choice. the caching idea is unusual too. id rather have 64 bit and the memory for windows.

  • 8eet

    seems like a good enough deal, but id want my media center with a bit more grunt. not core i7, but something more capable.

    Nice idea however, its a great idea for them to produce something which doesnt make noise. Many people will embrace this.

  • Colin

    Its passive, I can forgive a few of the mistakes I think they made with this, just for that. because its extremely difficult to do.

  • Brooke

    I like the two tone idea, not sure its the prettiest looking media center, but its noiseless and has a bluray drive.

    I like my PS3 however for media, but a PC would be better overall for the codec support…..

  • procupine14

    I’m sort of surprised that they build a really capable system and then slapped in an Intel Atom and Windows7 32-bit. Maybe its just me but I think that they could have gotten something better as far as the processor goes and still kept the beast silent. All in all though it seems like a good idea.

  • ET

    Thanks for the review, this looks like an interesting product. One thing I’m worried about is heat. The temperatures for CPU and GPU looked pretty high, and I wonder what the temperature of the device itself is, and how high it can reach if the room is at 30c+.

    I have to wonder why they didn’t use an AMD E-350, though. Is the Atom + GPU combination lower power or provides more features?

    By the way, I’m sure I said it before, but the “view all pages” option is a great feature of KitGuru reviews, and I wish more sites had it.

  • procupine14

    ET,

    I have to agree with you on this. I want to know why they didn’t use an AMD APU for this build. The only thing that I can come up with is perhaps they were offered a significantly cheaper solution with the Atom and they took that route in an effort to keep pricing to a minimum.

  • Vince

    maybe not that bad to have the 32bits, the D525 only can address 4GB anyway, and with all the issues I met with the 64bits, I am actually happy that they use the 32bits.

    It should as well speed up the boot