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.
- 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
- 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.