Hush E2-MCE review
As the most expensive Media Center PC on test, we were expecting something special from Hush. Taking the E2-MCE out of the box (being careful to avoid the sharp heatsink side-panels), it’s immediately striking for its all-black minimalist design.
Remove the cover and you’re greeted by a maze of heatpipes to and from every imaginable nook and cranny, showing you exactly where a large wedge of your money has been spent. This effort isn’t in vain, as when idling this is an extremely quiet machine, measuring just 27dBA – second only to the aptly named Tranquil. However, the quietness doesn’t quite extend to the DVD drive, which produced almost 35dBA and can be noticeable during silence in a movie’s dialogue. For the majority of everyday purposes, though, the Hush lives up to its name.
The quietness is even more impressive when you realise that the components are relatively powerful – there’s a 2GHz Athlon 64 3200+ and 1GB of fast DDR2 memory. Together they put the E2-MCE at the top of the performance table with a 2D score of 0.88. There’s also a Radeon 9600, which will just about handle the latest games at reduced settings; we saw Far Cry running at 31fps after switching off AA and AF and lowering the resolution to 1,024 x 768.
Storage is catered for by a 200GB Serial ATA hard disk and a dual-layer DVD writer. There are two FireWire and six USB 2 ports, optical and coaxial S/PDIF outputs plus eight-channel mini-jack outputs. DVI, VGA and S-Video outputs are all present, but there are no video inputs, and a single digital TV tuner is a disappointment at this price. You can upgrade to dual analog tuners for an extra £57, but like the Hi-Grade there’s currently no dual-digital option.
There are a couple of other shortcomings too. We were surprised not to find wireless capabilities; you’ll need a network cable for EPG updates and Internet access, or spend extra for a USB Wi-Fi adaptor. A more puzzling omission is that the price doesn’t include even a keyboard or mouse, which is inexcusable when you’re spending this kind of money. You do get a Media Center remote control, but the system can’t be exclusively controlled by this.
To be fair to Hush, we should point out there are a whole host of options on its website to rectify these omissions – this is one of the most customisable systems in the group. However, we can’t see many people wanting to spend even more on top of the already high price, and there isn’t much need to. Tranquil’s system is quieter and costs significantly less. It isn’t as powerful, but for pure Media Center use it’s the better choice if you want absolute silence.