4 of the best Windows 7 media PCs

msi wind top

MSI Wind Top AE2220

The AE2220 features an Nvidia Ion-powered graphics chip and 2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T6600 processor, both neatly contained behind the back of a 21.5-inch widescreen monitor. It has a hybrid analogue and digital terrestrial tuner built in and the 16:9 LCD widescreen display offers full HD (1080p) resolution and pseudo-5.1-channel SRS Premium Sound.

The machine's 4GB of DDR2 system memory means that it is quick and responsive, and its 640GB hard drive is enough to store a decent number of recordings.

Distinguishing features

You can opt for either a white or black bezel, which is in turn wrapped around by a transparent frame, giving the PC a pretty distinctive look. We particularly liked the simple and well-positioned operating buttons running down the right-hand side of the screen.

Round the back are a D-Sub VGA and an HDMI 1.3 input (the latter ideal for HD receivers,
perhaps). With six USB 2.0 ports (two down the side and four hidden at the back) you are also unlikely to run out of places to plug in your gadgets.

Touchscreens are becoming an increasingly important feature on Windows 7-powered PCs and the multi-touch capability of MSI's net-top is shown off perfectly by the MSITouch3D software. We soon found ourselves ditching the cheap-looking wireless keyboard and mouse that ship with the machine and instead relied on a combination of touchscreen with the Media Center remote control.

Freeview pictures look good but the portable aerial bundled with the tuner proved ineffective at finding channels, leading us to use a rooftop antenna.

Audio quality is excellent. Watching a HD movie with the sound cranked up high still gives out a decent, warm surround sound effect, even in a lounge. The machine is pretty silent, though heated-air exhaust at the top of the screen did get rather hot after long periods of use.


Adam Hartley