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Arctic MC101-A10 Home Entertainment Centre Review

Housed in an elegant and stylish brushed aluminium chassis, The MC101-A10 is an efficient home entertainment system which has the power to handle all types of media requirements.

AMD’s A10-4600M processor offers good performance, given its price range. Users looking for a system that has the ability to handle CPU intensive tasks such as media encoding will be pleasantly surprised by the AMD Trinity abilities. FutureMark’s synthetic benchmarks also show that the CPU has the potential to offer reasonable gaming performance.

Media playback is one of the main tasks intended to be coupled with this CPU. While it has the processing power to playback 1080P MKV files and Flash HD media, the processor usage was often quite high.

8GB of fast 1600MHz memory and a large 1TB hard drive will keep storage lovers and enthusiast users happy for a long time to come.

At $749, We feel Arctic could have budgeted a small SSD for use as a boot drive with the MC101. A cheap and basic 60GB SSD would greatly improve the system’s general speed and, with current pricing, add less than 10% to the end cost (and that’s at retail value!).

Expansion is a positive point for Arctic’s MC101. Should any of you film-fanatics stuff the 1TB hard drive to the brim, you can simply open up the chassis and use the remaining SATA 6GB/s slot to install a second HDD.

As previously mentioned, the lack of a SSD is disappointing. Thankfully, it isn’t disastrous as Arctic provide an upgrade path by using a motherboard which features the increasingly popular mSATA connector.

Connectivity is always an important factor for HTPC and small-form-factor systems alike. 3x USB 3.0 ports, 4x USB 2.0 ports, powered eSATA, a HDMI connector, a TV Antenna and plenty of audio connections distributed between the rear and side panels ensure that MC101 users aren’t going to be left stumped when trying to connect a device.

Another crucial feature for a home entertainment centre is quiet operation. The MC101-A10 doesn’t disappoint in this regard. When idling, the system is literally inaudible thanks to Arctic’s non-aggressive fan speed profiles which decrease the RPM. Noise levels increase by only a modest amount when a more demanding load is applied. Acoustic levels of 36.4 dBa will not be noticeable over even the quietest of films.

Gaming certainly isn’t a strength for the MC101. The HD 7660G GPU and its 512MB of video memory are simply inadequate for 1080P performance in modern games. Older or less-demanding titles such as Minecraft will play perfectly, leaving a separate system to handle the high-resolution gaming duties.

Heat is an issue for the MC101-A10 home entertainment centre and some user pre planning is required. Leaving space around the chassis for air flow is a wise idea.

Component temperatures can quickly reach high levels, but these are nothing to worry about. Problems arise from the heat-transferral properties of the brushed aluminium chassis which prove too effective. It acts as a giant heatsink and can reach temperatures of over 45°C very quickly.

Arctic include a DVB-T/ ATSC TV tuner which they state is HD compatible. This is not the case for the UK and some other European countries such as Sweden. In these locations, DVB-T is only capable of displaying SD channels as the HD signal requires a DVB-T2 capable device. This is frustrating for users who are limited to SD broadcasts. A DVB-T2 HD compatible device would have been the preferential choice.

Arctic’s MC101 isn’t supplied with any type of input device. This means that users will either have to use their keyboard/mouse – remote devices or, if you are lucky enough to live an area where it’s distributed, use Arctic’s remote MC Android and iOS App. A cheap infra-red remote would have been welcomed and have almost no impact on the price.

At $749.00 Arctic’s MC101-A10 8GB is expensive, there’s no denying it. We feel it is a solid system, ideal for media duties, but ARCTIC could have improved overall system performance by including a small SSD for boot duties. As it stands we feel it is slightly overpriced.

Pros:

  • Very quiet.
  • Low power usage.
  • Extremely compact design.
  • Aesthetically pleasing.
  • Fast processor.
  • DVB-T/ ATSC TV tuner.
  • 3x USB 3.0 ports.
  • 8GB memory.

Cons:

  • High price.
  • Chassis gets ridiculously hot.
  • No SSD.
  • No input device.
  • Currently not available in the UK.
  • TV tuner is not HD compatible for the UK (where HD requires DVB-T2).

KitGuru says: An attractive and petite home entertainment system which is good at its job, but could use a price drop.

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Rating: 7.5.

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