The first thing a media PC should be is quiet. In the past, media PCs have spoiled any enjoyment with a constant loud whirring of fans detracting from whatever you might be watching.
When we first unpacked the MediaJoy 3850, we were worried that it might suffer the same fate – we counted four fans attached to the case alone. Thankfully, when we turned the machine on, we found to be very quiet – and certainly unnoticeable when soundtracks are blaring.
Another thing that media PCs should be is attractive. We're not being shallow here – if the PC is going to be in your living room, you're probably going to want it to fit in. In this respect the MediaJoy 3850 isn't quite as successful.
While the horizontal SilverStone GD06B HTPC chassis looks like it could be part of home cinema or hi-fi separates, it's still bulky.
Finally, a media PC needs to be robust enough to handle any media you throw at it. The MediaJoy 3850 fares better in this regard, using the new Llano-based AMD A8-3850 quad core processor. While this gives the PC some heft power-wise, its reliance on the integrated Radeon HD 6550D GPU means that this PC struggles with games and intensive graphics – managing only six frames per second in our graphics benchmark tests.
Elsewhere the MediaJoy 3850 does well. It has a Blu-ray drive and comes with a 2TB hard drive. There are also two hot-swappable hard drive bays at the front of the machine so you can add extra storage quickly and easily.
It's not a bad PC by any means, and with a few choice upgrades it could become truly excellent, but the main competition for the MediaJoy 3850 isn't other PCs – it's the wealth of increasingly powerful set top boxes like the Humax HDR-FOX T2.
These come with dual Freeview HD or Freesat tuners, internet connectivity and other features, all in a much more attractive package for a lot less money. These leave media centre PCs feeling stuck in the past.
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