The Mini PC isn't very well equipped, isn't particularly fast and is a blatant Mac Mini rip-off. However, it has the potential to be an exceptional multimedia PC, thanks to its petite dimensions, quiet operation and use of Windows XP Media Center Edition
The Dimension 5150c is one of the first PCs to use the Intel Viiv specification, and it makes a good first impression. Its BTX chassis almost achieves the Holy Grail of silent operation. Useless at running games, its Pentium D processor gives it strong performance elsewhere, and it is surprisingly inexpensive. Some users will be disappointed at the lack of a TV tuner, but if recording television isn't a priority then the 5150c is a winner in almost every respect
The Aspire E300 is a massive departure from the Alienware and Dell offerings that dominate the gaming arena. It's nowhere near as expensive and its contemporary styling should appeal to a broader audience. It can't compete with high-end gaming rigs, but Acer has used relatively high-performance components. It'll whiz through most everyday applications, so it's ideal if you're after a cheap desktop that covers all bases
The Apple iMac G5 gets trimmer and cheaper as it ups its performance and adds a handful of multimedia features, resulting in an all-around first-rate home PC.
If you're not the kind of person that likes to dig components up from graves and solder them together while Futurama plays on a far-off television set, then a boxed extreme gaming machine may be the answer to your lust for high polygon-count online multiplayer games. While the Dell brand won't bring you elite status at a LAN party, the components inside will
It does exactly what it says on the tastefully white-coloured tin. The 5100 is ready to be dropped into the heart of any house as a general purpose email, Web and office task platform
The 9100 is really what you make of it. The basic model, with an ATI Radeon X600 graphics card, is competent but unspectacular, while a more heartily equipped model with a powerful graphics card and a RAID array could make a decent Photoshop machine. Although the 9100 has few tricks up its sleeve, it's a solid machine with plenty of potential
This is a solid home-theater PC with basic features, but if you're finicky about audio, you'll want a more configurable system.
Serious gamers fall into two categories. The first type is those who enjoy hotwiring together obscure components dug up from graves, adding liquid cooling systems and squeezing the last iota of heat tolerance out of an overclocked P4. The second lot are the ones who buy a gaming PC like they buy a console: pre-configured for max performance. The Aurora 7500 is for them
The Artisan looks and feels like it belongs in the living room. Performance is similar to all Media Center PCs once you've got them up and running, but the joy of the Artisan is the relative simplicity of its setup. We're never sure what to expect when we sacrifice our living room to a Media Center machine, but this one left us pleasantly surprised
A bold attempt to emulate Apple's iMac G5, the Elonex Lumina falls just short in the design stakes. Nevertheless, its PVR functionality and large LCD makes it the most convincing reason yet to let a Microsoft Windows machine into your living room
Despite our problems getting video to output from the ebox, as long as you don't move the system, it'll require little maintenance. In the world of Windows Media Centers the ebox is no slouch. But the world of Windows Media Centers is a pretty depressing place to be, so this is no great compliment
Some will like the Hi-Grade's retro look. If your other audiovisual equipment is from the 1980s, this won't spoil the vibe. Beneath its facade lurks a capable Media Center PC with a semi-pro graphics card that will cope with most games
The Medio definitely looks the part -- a Robocop of the PVR world. The chassis won't be to everyone's taste, but it looks right at home stacked on top of THX power amps. Because it runs Windows Media Center Edition, the user experience is pretty much the same as with every other Media Center PC. Nevertheless, quality components and incredible attention to detail make this a very desirable home entertainment PC
With a nod to the design of Apple's iMac G5, Sony has attempted to conceal a desktop computer behind an LCD screen. The result is significantly bulkier and more cluttered than the iMac. But despite its inelegance, the VAIO has a good screen and lots of video input options