Elonex Artisan LX review

£850
Price when reviewed

The Artisan is a Media Center aimed squarely at the AV enthusiast. The living room is its intended home, and it will fit into your hi-fi stack at 17in wide. The 450mm depth may be a problem for some, but it’s the unusual grey finish that probably won’t match your existing components. Fortunately, Elonex offers the Artisan in Piano Black as well.

Elonex Artisan LX review

Its fascia is neat, with just a large volume dial and power button visible. The blue LCD panel also helps with the hi-fi feel and displays track time when playing videos, DVDs or CDs. Two separate panels hide the less-used controls. On the left are mini-FireWire, two USB 2, optical S/PDIF in, mic and line-out ports. The right door conceals a 7-in-1 media card reader, the RF connect button (for the keyboard and mouse) and VCR-style playback buttons.

Removing the cover reveals a packed but tidy build. It also reveals why the Artisan is almost silent: there are no fans except for the twin 80mm units in the PSU. These barely make a whisper and draw heat away from the CPU heatsink, through the PSU and to the outside.

The CPU is a 3GHz Pentium 4 530 and Elonex installs 512MB of PC2700 memory. There are two free sockets – something not many systems boast. A plastic cage holds a 200GB Seagate hard disk, damping the seek noise nicely, and beside it sits a fast Samsung dual-layer DVD writer.

The ATi Radeon X300 SE doesn’t really provide enough grunt for gaming, although it managed 41fps in Unreal Tournament 2004. More importantly, in a PCI riser slot resides a Hauppauge PVR-500. This dual-analog TV tuner allows you to record one channel while watching or recording another.

Connecting the Artisan to your existing audio components won’t be a problem. Optical and coaxial S/PDIF outputs plus four dedicated mini-jack sockets mean you can have up to eight-channel sound. Visuals aren’t so well catered for, though – there are no scart or component outputs. There are, however, DVI, VGA and S-Video ports.

And, like the eXentia and Lumina, the Artisan has integrated IR and RF receivers, so you don’t need any extra boxes trailing around. Plus, there’s 802.11g, making it easy to connect the system to the Internet and share files with other PCs.

With a three-year, collect-and-return warranty, the Artisan is better specified than the Hi-Grade DMS, which costs £149 more. With the great balance of connections, quiet running and size, the Artisan is a clear winner, and is the Media Center we’d spend our own money on.

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