HP Media Center PC m300y review: HP Media Center PC m300y

3D graphics performance
A true home-entertainment platform should also include capabilities for powerful 3D gaming. With its Nvidia GeForce FX 5200 graphics card, the m300y gets you at least halfway there. The system's 3D graphics performance is capable, especially if you keep your game's screen-resolution setting low, but it lacks the zest of a more powerful graphics engine, such as Nvidia's GeForce FX 5900 line. The bottom line: Most games will play on the Media Center just fine, but high screen resolutions and advanced graphics features will slow it noticeably.

3D graphics performance (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Futuremark's 3DMark2001 Second Edition Build 330 (16-bit color)
Futuremark's 3DMark2001 Second Edition Build 330 (32-bit color)
ZT Home Theatre PC A5071 (ATI Radeon 9800 Pro)
19,956
19,620
Gateway 700XL (ATI Radeon 9800 Pro)
18,686
18,607
ViewSonic NextVision M2100 Digital Media Center (Nvidia GeForce FX 5600)
9,684
9,293
Dell Dimension 4600C with Media Center (ATI All-in-Wonder 9000 Pro)
8,268
7,409
HP Media Center PC m300y (Nvidia GeForce FX 5200)
8,058
7,283

To measure 3D graphics performance, CNET Labs uses Futuremark's 3DMark2001 Pro. We use 3DMark to measure a desktop's performance with the DirectX 8.0 (DX8) interface at both 16-bit and 32-bit color settings at a resolution of 1,024x768. A system that does not have DX8 hardware support will typically generate a lower score than one that has DX8 hardware support.

3D gaming performance (in fps) (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Quake III Arena
ZT Home Theatre PC A5071 (ATI Radeon 9800 Pro)
335.2
Gateway 700XL (ATI Radeon 9800 Pro)
329.4
ViewSonic NextVision M2100 Digital Media Center (Nvidia GeForce FX 5600)
205.2
HP Media Center PC m300y (Nvidia GeForce FX 5200)
149.4
Dell Dimension 4600C with Media Center (ATI All-in-Wonder 9000 Pro)
134.8

To measure 3D gaming performance, CNET Labs uses Quake III Arena. Although Quake III is an older game, it is still widely used as an industry-standard tool. Quake III does not require DX8 hardware support--as 3DMark2001 does--and is therefore an excellent means of comparing the performance of low-end to high-end graphics subsystems. Quake III performance is reported in frames per second (fps).

Performance analysis written by CNET Labs technician David Gussman.

Find out more about how we test desktop systems.

System configurations:

Dell Dimension 4600C with Media Center
Windows XP Media Center Edition 2004; 2.8GHz Intel P4; Intel 865G chipset; 512MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; ATI All-in-Wonder 9000 Pro 64MB; Seagate ST3120026A 120GB 7,200rpm

Gateway 700XL
Windows XP Home; 3.2GHz Intel P4; Intel 875P chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; ATI Radeon 9800 Pro 128MB; two Seagate ST3160023AS 160GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA; integrated Intel 82801ER Serial ATA RAID controller

HP Media Center PC m300y
Windows XP Media Center Edition 2004; 3.2GHz Intel P4; Intel 865PE chipset; 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; Nvidia GeForce FX 5200 128MB; Maxtor 6Y200P0 200GB 7,200rpm

ViewSonic NextVision M2100 Digital Media Center
Windows XP Media Center Edition 2004; 2.8GHz Intel P4; Intel 845GV chipset; 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; Nvidia GeForce FX 5600 128MB; Maxtor 4R160L0 160GB 5,400rpm

ZT Group Home Theatre PC A5071
Windows XP Media Center Edition 2004; 2.2GHz AMD Athlon 64 FX-51; Nvidia Nforce-3 Pro 150 chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; ATI Radeon 9800 Pro 256MB; Seagate ST3160023AS 160GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA

The Media Center PC 300 series includes a standard one-year warranty on parts and labor. HP doesn't offer onsite service, though some resellers do if you purchase one of the retail models. Alternatively, HP will cover the cost of shipping both ways should you need to return the system for service. Depot service is always available at an authorized repair center.

HP provides toll-free telephone, e-mail, and live online chat support for the life of the product. Phone support is available 24/7 for the duration of the warranty; afterward, you pay a per-incident fee. Our test system did not include the final printed documentation, but we remember liking the thorough, straightforward documentation in previous versions of the HP Media Center. Useful online resources include FAQs and software updates. Finally, we were very impressed with the Windows Media Center 2004 setup process, which simplified complex tasks, such as programming the remote, and should cut down on the need for support.

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