Hiper Media Center PC HMC-2K53A-A3

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Test Results Continued

Comparison: Hiper Media Center H2 vs. A3
Activity
HMC-2K53A-H2
HMC-2K53A-A3
Avg. CPU Usage
System Power (AC)
Avg. CPU Usage
System Power (AC)
Off
N/A
2W
N/A
2W
Sleep (S3)
N/A
6W
N/A
3W
Idle
1%
~82W*
3%
~59W
1080p H.264
38%
~89W
31%
~79W
WMV3 VC-1
44%
~92W
43%
~80W
CPUBurn
100%
105W
100%
97W
* The H2 did not have Cool'n'Quiet support in Vista, resulting in higher idle power consumption.

Compared to the previous Hiper Media Center incarnation however, we see some nice improvements in power consumption: approximately 10 to 12W during moderate use. Idle power was much lower since Cool'n'Quiet did not function on the H2 with Vista. Video playback also improved slightly in terms of CPU usage, and there was absolutely no stuttering on the A3, unlike the H2, which stumbled at times in HD playback.

GENERAL IMPRESSIONS

VIDEO

The HMC A3 worked perfectly well with a BenQ FP94VW 19" LCD at 1440x900 resolution, connected via D-Sub. This monitor also has an HDMI port with audio available through a line-out jack. When we connected the HMC through HDMI, we were not able to get it working at the proper native resolution. The driver would only allow 1152x648, 1280x720, 1776x1000, and 1920x1080. At 1280x720, the desktop was cropped and we could move the mouse cursor past the edges of the screen. After fiddling with the drivers and sound control panel for some time, we were unable to get full audio functionality working through HDMI either. The sound came through fine when we tried the speaker diagnostic test, but we couldn't hear the audio from any video or music files, or from clicks made with the mouse. Since we did get some sound out of it, we assume it's either a Vista or driver issue, which may be worked out eventually.


At 1280x720, things didn't look quite right.

PERIPHERALS

The built-in WiFi card worked as it should, detecting and allowing easy access at 54 mbps to the wireless network in the lab. The included Vista remote control also worked to perfection, with a full of control for Vista's Media Center. It was a little thin, but very comfortable, and intuitive/easy to use. The range of the remote was approximately 3.5 meters (11.5 feet) with direct line-of-sight. This addition really cements the system firmly as a Media PC adding a level of usability and enjoyment lacking in the previous model. The front display and all its buttons were also fully functional.

NOISE

As none of the fans in the system have been changed from the previous model, the noise level remained the same. 31 dBA@1m when idle, and 35 dBA@1m during stress testing with CPUBurn as measured by our B&K sound level meter. It's an acceptable amount of noise for a home theater PC. The addition of the southbridge fan made the unit unbearable, even for a media center. If Hiper felt that the southbridge wouldn't be adequately cooled they could have requested MSI to use a larger passive heatsink instead. The sound the fan emitted was akin to a high-pitch optical drive motor spinning at moderate speeds or a very small vacuum cleaner. It was loud enough that we did not even bother measuring or recording its noise level.

COOLING

The CPU and Core temperatures did not exceed 50°C on load and 40°C when idle, which is fine performance. Still, it's a cramped system with limited cooling and airflow, so it's best to stick to 65W or lower TDP processors. Also make sure the system has plenty of breathing room — placing it on the top of the rest of your home theater equipment would be ideal as long as it is not enclosed in a cabinet.

The low profile heatsink is effective with the low 45W TDP processor, and in an open environment, it was barely warm to the touch with CPUBurn running. The northbridge and southbridge heatsinks on the otherhand were another story. The southbridge in particular, was scorching, and it makes sense that Hiper decided to include the optional fan this time around. We performed all our tests with the fan disconnected, however, to eliminate it's annoying noise, and no instability was noted.



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