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Hi-Grade is one of the few independent PC companies surviving from the 80s. Like others of its ilk, Hi-Grade has been making and designing Media Center systems since the outset of the platform. Last year Riyad looked at its DMS II and while he was reasonably impressed he did have issues with the way it looked. This new DMS Extreme system will have its work cut out in that regard with the Sony Media Center I looked at recently easily taking the plaudits as one of the best looking media systems I've seen.
The look of PC might not be an important factor to all but when you're buying a system that will be visible in your living room it is a genuine consideration. Of course, if you're planning on hiding all your tech inside a cupboard, then it's not really as much of an issue.
The Sony didn't grab the headlines just for being a looker though - it also featured a Blu-ray drive and what do you know, so does the Hi-Grade. We've got a couple of notebooks with HD-DVD drives built-in (full reviews soon), but in terms of desktop systems so far it's 2-0 to Blu-ray. Like Sony, Hi-Grade has a non Blu-ray version of this machine available at a far more reasonable price. Aside from the Blu-ray drive, the extra cash gets you a faster CPU, twice the RAM complement and double the hard disk capacity. However, whether it's enough to justify the huge £935.30 difference between the two machines is debatable - especially since you can buy a stand alone Blu-ray player for around £850.
The DMS Xtreme range is more powerful than the standard DMS range and features Intel’s flagship Core 2 Duo processors. However, Hi-Grade has decided to go with the mobile ‘Merom' variant of the chip in the guise of a T7200. This sports two cores running at 2.0GHz sharing 4MB of Level 2 cache. The difference with the standard desktop Conroe is that the front side bus is limited to 667MHz, rather than 1,066Mhz., though it’s still enough to handle multiple room access to the system.
The reason that Hi-Grade has gone with the mobile chip is that it ensures that the heat and noise are kept to a minimum (34W TDP compared to the desktop part’s 65W), which is definitely an important consideration for a media centre system. However, the downside is that mobile motherboard and memory parts cost more than standard desktop components, which inevitably has pushed the price up of the this system.This is the only explanation I can think of as to why this system is more expensive that the lavish looking Blu-ray equipped Sony Media Center.