Hiper Media Center PC HMC-2K53A-A3

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FINAL THOUGHTS

The Hiper HMC-2K53A-A3 is mostly an improvement over the H2. The now standard remote control was a pleasure to use; it's one thing all media PCs should probably have. It's the bridge that turns a PC into a home theater device, rather than just a computer using a TV as a monitor. Changing the motherboard to one using the 690G chipset with integrated Radeon X1250 graphics was an obvious improvement. It provides superior high definition playback, better energy efficiency, and also allows users to use HDMI, which has become the defacto standard in digital TV/video.

Unfortunately, at least with this particular MSI board, the HDMI connection came with its own problems. The video resolution wouldn't match our LCD monitor. Since it gave us the option of several resolutions outside of our monitor's range, we can assume that these are all the resolutions (1152x648, 1280x720, 1776x1000, and 1920x1080) it supports. This will force users to pick the resolution that matches closest to their display. It's not horrible to use 1280x720 instead of 1366x768, but it's far from ideal. We were unable to get the audio through HDMI working properly either. Without audio, the benefit of HDMI is limited. It also takes the place of DVI and component connectors, reducing its overall versatility. Granted, all of this could be possibly solved in the future with updated drivers.

We are also unimpressed by the implementation of power for the built-in IR receiver, through a circuit board plugged into one of the memory slots. The motherboard has only two memory slots, which effectively reduces the maximum memory to 2GB in single-channel. To use the included remote, you require Vista, and Vista happens to be a bit of a memory hog. 2GB is just about the minimum we would recommend for a fully functional system running Vista, so giving up the second memory slot to power the IR seems a dubious compromise.

Though the fan control is better than in the previous model, its usefulness is minimal since the fans in the PSU remain the loudest noise source under all conditions. The power supply remains our biggest complaint about the Hiper Media PC. The addition of the previously optional southbridge fan actually makes the A3 a bit louder overall than the previous H2.

The Hiper HMC seems to have taken two steps forward, two steps sideways, and then two steps back. The improvements of the A3 over the H2 on paper looked promising, but the implementation introduced a few more problems. The underlining capability is there; getting it to function quietly still requires some work on the part of the end user.

PROS

* Excellent Vista remote now included
* HDMI now included
* Improved high definition playback
* Improved power consumption

CONS

* No change in power supply
* Loud southbridge fan added.
* No DVI or component connectors
* HDMI issues
* IR module occupies a memory slot

Our thanks to Hiper Group for this product sample.

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EndPCNoise/SPCR Model Eleven: Media Center PC

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