The foci of Arctic’s MC001-BD are summed up with two words: video and silence. This is the only passively-cooled nettop in our roundup, and the little noise it does generate comes from the hard disk; if you choose to upgrade that to an SSD, it's completely silent. The system is driven by a dual-core Hyper-Threaded Atom D525. But instead of leaning on the integrated Intel GMA 3150 graphics core, the engineers opted to add a Mobility Radeon 5430 with 512 MB of dedicated DDR3 memory. This is the only nettop in our roundup with dedicated graphics RAM, and AMD's Radeon GPU is the key component that should make the MC001-BD a capable media center.
Arctic's entry sells for $714 at www.arctic.ac. That price is higher than some of the other models in our round-up, but keep in mind that it includes Windows 7 (the Home Premium 32-bit flavor). It also comes with 4 GB of DDR3 RAM, a 500 GB hard disk, and an LG slimline Blu-ray ROM drive.
The aluminum and glossy black finish is simultaneously classy and understated. Arctic Cooling's MC001-BD certainly looks at home in the living room. At 10.5” x 5.5” x 1.5”, it consumes the most shelf space of any unit in our round-up, but it’s certainly not large compared to more familiar desktop PCs.
On the back, we see HDMI and VGA video outputs, an optical S/PDIF audio output, five USB ports, a gigabit Ethernet port, six 1/8" analog audio jacks, and the power supply input. This is a lot of connectivity options for a nettop, especially in regard to all of the USB ports.
The unit's front side hosts a memory card reader, two USB 3.0 ports, and requisite front-panel speaker and microphone jacks.
Arctic's MC001-BD comes with an external DC power supply, an HDMI cable, a wireless antenna, a manual, and the CyberLink BD Blu-ray playback software. There is no remote, which we consider inexcusable for a media-oriented PC. You can always add a third-party solution later, though. Arctic Cooling is also in the process of certifying a remote control application for Android-based phones and Apple's iPhone. We weren’t able to try the iPhone app, since it isn't available, but we expect it in the App Store soon.
The inside of the MC001-BD is dominated by its heat sink, which is no surprise considering that the unit is passively cooled. Otherwise, upgradeable components like the hard drive and memory are relatively easy to access.
They are small form factor PCs or home theatre PCs, but they are not nettops.
btw: Mac mini should be in this lineup.
Mac Mini should be in this lineup? Actually, a good idea. I'd love to see how it compares to similar Wintel boxes.
I'm through with these small boxes because they're a pain in the a$$ to service and the hardware isn't good for the price ($800?! gimme a break!), but I see value in them for people who are ready to pay more for the small size.
If I would build a small form-factor box myself, I'd use something like this new Lian Li case which was in Tom's news recently - it can fit proper PCI/PCI-E cards.
Again, lovely article. Keep it up.
P.S. The ASRock box is great.