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Sam ChenJuly 31, 2012

ARCTIC’s Trinity Inspired HTPC Powerhouse

The supremacy a HTPC has over a DVD/CD player or a cablebox is evident. Being capable of extending its use beyond simply playing disks, more and more people are leaning towards HTPCs as the center of their home entertainment systems. Today, we’ll be taking a look at one such HTPC designed for just that purpose, the ARCTIC MC101 “Most Advanced Home Entertainment Centers“.

When ARCTIC first announced the MC101, I was extremely excited for the new product. It had a beautiful brushed aluminum design that I haven’t seen on any other device in the same class and even looked better in comparison to most popular Apple devices currently on the market. In terms of horsepower, ARCTIC made sure to pull all the stops as well by putting in one of the newest and most powerful AMD APU’s that (at the time) wasn’t even available on the market.

Despite it being months since its initial announcement, we were finally able to get a unit to put through its paces. Good? Bad? Read on my friends, read on…

ARCTIC MC101 Specifications

AMD A10-4600M – Codename: Trinity

The most interesting topic in the specifications here is that ARCTIC went with AMD’s 2nd generation A10-4600M APU, codenamed Trinity, for the MC101. Based on the second-generation Bulldozer micro-architecture, codenamed Piledriver, the A10-4600M APU is a 2.3GHz (3.2GHz max) quad-core mobile CPU packed in with the Radeon HD 7600G graphics processor on the same die. This effectively means that this APU should be capable of producing some seriously impressive CPU and graphics performance off of a thermal envelope of only 35w TDP.

About The Author
Sam Chen
Hardware and Technology Enthusiast. SSD Evangelist. Editor-in-Chief. You can find Sam's full biography here
  • Paulinchen

    1. Nice review of a very nice product.
    2. A 3570k as a reference to a mobile APU is really bad chosen. Looks like some of Intel´s PR stuff……..
    3. Who runs a HTPC/miniPC like that at 100% load anyway? You wont never reach these high case temps IRL.

    • 1. Thanks
      2. Agreed, but it’s all I have here. Would’ve loved to have an Intel Atom or AMD E350 to really show how well the Trinity performs, but I wasn’t about to buy one just for the review.
      3. True, but even after playing a full 1.5 hours worth of HD video puts the unit at around 50-55c ish in its stock config. Add in the fact that most HTPC’s are placed in small enclosed spaces (like in a shelf under the TV) and it could be much hotter. I did all my testing in open air spaces. Fact of the matter is that the case is being used as a giant heatsink. Great engineering cause it keeps the internals cooled, downside is that it gets really hot.

      • matt_helm

        Puts the CPU at that temp. I’ve never had the case more than very WARM, never hot enough to even turn my skin red, much less damage it.

  • Isn’t the fact that its radiating heat through the case a positive thing. It means less fan speed/noise is needed to keep it from overheating.

    • Depends on how you look at it. Yes it’s a good thing in terms of cooling/noise. No it’s not so good if you’ve got small children and pets who might burn themselves touching the cover.

      • matt_helm

        There must be something wrong with your unit, like I said, mine’s never been warm enough for me to need to remove my hand from the case.

        • That thought had crossed my mind. I really wanted to go in and reapply thermal paste, but I wasn’t allowed to open the unit.

  • matt_helm

    The problem with the HD isn’t Arctic’s Fault, but an issue with WMC. Because it honors DRM, all files must be local to the recording machine, so more HD space is more important than HD speed. I’m using mine as a SageTV client, and with an SSD, boot time is about 11 seconds with W7 64x. I know that isn’t fast, but not too bad.

  • matt_helm

    I do wish the BIOS had a few more options, like wake from USB, and I’d like to set the start of the fan lower than 40C. My game machine doesn’t reach that under full load!

  • deku

    Sam, really thorough review – I’m seriously considering buying this product. Would you clarify a point if you are able?
    I’d like to hook this up to an AV amp for music and film…does the MC101 ‘HD audio’ equate to ‘DTS-HD Master Audio’ or ‘Dolby TrueHD’ i.e. lossless?

    • It should be able to output both via HDMI. You’ll need some sort of software to do the output though, so PowerDVD or something of the sort. Unfortunately the sample has already been returned, so I can’t confirm this.

  • Leonard

    Great review – thanks! You said it takes two 2.5″ drives? Is the top-down view in the picture just blocking the second SATA connector from view?