Thanks to the guys at my-htpc for supplying a test machine for us to review.  We’ve been in contact with my-htpc for quite some time about their HTPC’s as we’ve had our readers asking for us to include more HTPC’s on our site.

HTPC’s by their very nature tend to spend a lot of their time swirched on, and it’s not uncommon for them to be ran 24/7.  With an ever increasing need to consume media in smarter ways the HTPC (Home Theatre PC) has really come to the forefront of the living room as well as the teenagers bedroom.  Being able to store and playback your media collections as well as the desire to watch live and recorded TV means the HTPC really is a one stop shop.

The specification of our review machine

  • Zeno TX-2000 HTPC chassis. Dimensions: 270mm (Deep), 295mm (Wide), 100mm (High)
  • Power Supply: 100w external DC power unit
  • Intel i3 2100 3.1Ghz Dual Core Processor
  • Sandybridge H61 chipset motherboard
  • 4Gb DDR3 1333 Mhz RAM (expandable to 16GB. 2 slots, 1 used)
  • PCI slots: 1x PCI Express X16 (running at x16)
  • 4x SATA 6GBs (2 Used)
  • 128Gb Crucial M4 SSD
  • Slimline Bluray drive
  • on Board HD Graphics card with DVi, D-SUb, and HDMI
  • Audio Line In
  • Audio Line out
  • Microphone port
  • 4x USB 2.0, 2x USB 3.0
  • Gigabit LAN
  • 64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium Edition
  • Microsoft Security Essentials virus checker
  • My Movies for Media Centre (rip BluRay & DVDs and catalogue your collection)
  • Total Media Theatre 5 for full BluRay menus and dts-MA and Dolby True HD
  • Virtual CloneDrive
  • Full remote control
  • wireless keyoard with trackerball
  • Power, HDMI, and network cables supplied

First Impressions

The first thing that struck us when unboxing the HTPC was how stylish the case was.  The case is in effect a giant heatsink and is finished off with a black brushed aluminum finish.  Down each side of the case are the fins that are used to dissipate the heat from the PC.  This means that there isn’t a single fan in the unit which is a major advantage with a machine that will spend a lot of time in a living room or bedroom.

On the front of the unit is the slimline optical drive as found in a laptop as well as a single button to power on the PC.

At the back of the PC is the usual array of output ports and if you check the specification above you can see the type of connectivity that this mighty HTPC crams in.

Powering up the computer is very eerie for anyone who hasn’t experienced a totally passively cooled machine equipped with an SSD hard drive. Normally you would expect lots of whirring and clicking as your machine boots up but those noises on a traditional PC/HTPC are caused by the numerous fans and mechanical hard drives.  This machine makes the customary BIOS beep when powered on but then it’s totally silent as it speeds to load up Windows 7 and takes you straight into Microsoft Media Center (WMC).  The machine is configured to log you straight on and launch Microsofts inbuilt media centre front end.

 What Can it Do?

Using the supplied My Movies software you can slip in a DVD or Blu-Ray disk and transfer the contents of the movie or TV series directly onto the computers hard drive.  This allows you to store your movie and TV series media libraries digitally and saves the hassle of having to find the correct disk whenever you fancy watching a particular show or film.  This makes HTPC’s very partner and kids friendly as they can easily navigate via the supplied remote control or keyboard and trackball!

Here are a few pictures of the Movies and TV Series views available within WMC

Movie Collection

Movie Details

TV Series Collection

TV Series Details

TV Episode Details

Pairing My Movies with Windows Media Center makes a great home media hub and is great value add piece of software that My-HTPC have bundled into their custom made systems.

Music Collection

When it comes to music then your iTunes library or windows media player mp3 collection are all brought together into the music library

 

Live TV and Recording TV

Due to the passive nature of this particular system My-HTPC don’t recommended that you add an internal TV tuner card which would increase the internal core temperature.  You could add a USB based tuner or as we prefer you could use a network TV server.  However you supply your TV signal you’ll be pleased to know that WMC can handle up to 8 tuners and includes a full 7 day electronic programme guide (EPG).

So how energy efficient is the HTPC in use?

We ran a series of standard HTPC tests using the our tried and tested efergy energy monitoring socket .

As a machine like this will often spend large periods of times idle, waiting for the next task to be kicked off, the idle power usage of the machine is incredibly important.  For the Zeno Passive HTPC we measured the average idle power usage as 29 watts.

If you put the HTPC to “sleep” between operations then the unit consumes and impressive 1.7watts when sleeping.

High usage functions such as watching a HD broadcast or when copying down a movie sees the power rise to only 34 watts at it’s maximum and with the excellent intel i3 processor our tests showed that we could transfer a 110 minute DVD in 20 mins.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a low power HTPC that’s both stylish and performs well then the Zeno cased HTPC from My-HTPC ticks a lot of boxes.  The supplied software compliments the well chosen hardware requirements and the support offered by My-HTPC means that you will be up and running in no time.  This energy efficient HTPC punches above it’s power consumption weight and delivers great performance for the power that it consumes.

If you’ve got a bespoke requirement then we can’t recommend My-HTPC enough.  These guys are able to offer HTPC solutions that match the clients requirements and will go the extra mile to deliver the best possible system.

Contact Details

You can call, Skype or e-mail My-HTPC via their website at www.my-htpc.co.uk

 

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