Watching digital content in your living room, it remains a challenge sometimes. Of course there are plenty of media players, settop boxes, smart TVs, intelligent Blu-ray players and the old favourite, the HTPC. The latter is the most flexible, but until now also the largest in size, which can be a drawback in the living room. Arctic has attempted to solve that problem, by creating an HTPC that is the size of a media player. Hardware.Info tested the Arctic MC101.
A year ago at the IFA fair we were surprised to see Arctic HTPC products in the midst of their processor and graphics card coolers. Like other manufacturers, Arctic is also trying its hand at diversifying the products it has on offer. In this case it's applying its experience in the area of coolers in other products. The Atom- and Fusion-based HTPCs from 2011 were entirely passively cooled, but the MC101 we are reviewing here has a small fan, along with much more powerful hardware.
Atom- and Fusion-based systems fell short as HTPC, but the MC101 does not. Neither processor had enough processing power to be able to do the video postprocessing needed, which is a disadvantage especially for interlaced and standard definition content still frequently broadcast on 'HD' channels.
For the MC101 Arctic used the mobile version of AMD's Trinity platform, and the A10-4600 processor more than fast enough to be able to handle the various postprocessing techniques. The MC101 comes barebone in different versions, with different processor models. You can also buy it as a complete system, but that will cost you about £520 for a model with 8 GB of memory and a 1 TB hard drive. It does include a license for Windows 7 Home Premium.