As its name suggests, Hush is pioneering the quiet PC. The company's mini-ITX and ITX systems have led the way, defined by their precision engineering and techno-industrial good looks. Its ATX-based E3 MCE is the biggest of the bunch, 15kg of anodized aluminium Media Center that's double the price of an Evesham eBox or Elonex Artisan.
But the E3 MCE is no style whore system, although the spectacular hi-fi design and the outrageous cooling fins on the chassis might suggest otherwise. It's got a rock-solid base specification, founded on a partnership between an Athlon 64 4000 processor, 1GB of main memory and an ample 400GB hard drive. Its Radeon X800 card is a full-fat pixel-pusher that makes this machine a satisfying all-rounder.
A PC this powerful should sound like a hairdryer that's about to explode, as whirring fans go all-out to keep the Athon 64 and the X800 cool. But thanks to Hush's clever design, all you can hear is the faint hum of the power supply and the soft tick-tick-tick of the Seagate hard disk.
There are no fans here. Instead, the components that generate the most heat - i.e. the CPU, the Northbridge and the graphics card - are passively cooled, with heat radiated away from the PC via the blade-like fins on its edges.
Supplied without a monitor, keyboard or mouse, there's an expensive arrogance about the E3 MCE that's strangely appealing. You're paying for the engineering, not the extras. Although the internal layout is tidy, this won't be an easy machine to upgrade and with no free PCI slot to add a second TV tuner, this Media Center isn't as talented as it could be.
Nevertheless, the E3 MCE represents what all Media Center PCs should be - powerful, versatile and satisfyingly silenced. But where should you put it? While it's got the elegant looks of a living room PC, it's unbelievably hefty and slightly too large to fit on the average TV stand. Unless you've got a high-resolution flat-panel TV, preferably with a DVI connection, it's a waste to treat it like a set-top box.
Instead, this beautifully engineered PC deserves to be your main machine - Media Server, not Media Center. It could easily sit at the heart of the home, invisibly and reliably recording TV, storing your music and photos, then (by plugging it into Xbox 360s or Media Center Extenders) making the digital content available to everyone in the house.
Also available in bronze or black, the E3 MCE reaffirms your faith in the whole Media Center ideal, so much so that it's easy to forget about the £2K asking price. Superbly kitted out and capable of resuming from/dropping into standby in about two seconds, only the lack of twin tuners taints the E3 MCE's performance.
If Hush gets any better at building PCs, it'll need to change its name to 'Shhh'.