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Hush E2-MCE - Silent Media Center PC - Hush E2-MCE
Talking of the graphics card, it's mounted horizontally along with the TV Tuner card to ensure that the height of the PC is kept as low as possible. Hush has used a single riser card that plugs into both the AGP slot and a PCI slot, allowing an AGP card and a single PCI card to be used in the system. This configuration does limit the amount of PCI cards you can use, but it's an acceptable compromise to achieve a décor friendly form factor. It's also worth remembering that there is so much functionality integrated into modern motherboards these days, that the need for more than one PCI card is shrinking.
Now, if you've read any of my other media PC reviews, you'll know that I believe that wireless networking is a vitally important feature in a machine like this, so is the single PCI slot too much of a compromise to satisfy my media PC requirements? Thankfully the answer to that question is a resounding no, since those guys at Hush are a pretty clever bunch and have ensured that the E2-MCE has integrated WiFi functionality. Hush has wisely invested in the WiFi adapters that Shuttle uses in its small form factor boxes - not only are these adapters tiny, but they also connect to a USB 2.0 header on the motherboard, so there's no need for a spare PCI slot. There's a screw in antenna that attaches at the back, that enabled the E2-MCE to connect up to my WiFi access point without any problems.
The FIC motherboard has four DIMM sockets, two of which are filled with 256MB 400MHz DDR modules for a total of 512MB of system memory. You could boost the memory up to 2.5GB if you went for 1GB modules, but really a PC like this doesn't need masses of memory. The hard disk is a 200GB SATA model which should keep you happy for a while, although Hush does offer hard drive options up to 400GB for the truly storage hungry. The hard disk is mounted in an acoustic casing to keep the noise down, and this is mounted against the left hand side panel to ensure that the heat generated by the hard disk is efficiently dissipated.
Below the hard disk is the power supply, which is also mounted against the side panel to allow the heat to flow away and out of the machine. Because the PSU is mounted at the front of the case instead of the rear, there is a power cable that runs through the case to a socket that's mounted in the centre of the rear backing panel. There was some concern from one of my colleagues that this would cause interference with other components in the PC, but there wasn't any evidence of this whatsoever.
Hush has used a notebook optical drive to save space, but that doesn't mean that functionality has been limited. The optical solution is a DVD writer that will burn to both DVD+R/RW and DVD-R/RW standards, making it an ideal partner for MCE, which allows you to export recorded content to DVD.
The front fascia of the Hush E2-MCE looks superb, in a kind of Tag-Mclaren minimalist/industrial HiFi component kind of way. On the left is a single, round power button that's circled in blue light (what else?) when the unit is powered on. The right hand side is dominated by the optical drive and the front mounted ports. The optical drive tray is long, with rounded edges - there's a single eject button, an activity light and a manual eject hole. Below this is a row of ports, mounted on a long, rounded fascia that matches the optical drive. Here you'll find two USB 2.0 ports, two six-pin FireWire ports, headphone and speakers jacks, and the IR receiver for the Media Center remote control. Basically, from the front the Hush E2-MCE looks like a very expensive piece of HiFi or home cinema equipment, which, to be honest, is exactly what it is.