Media centre PCs don’t necessarily have to conform to the sleek, low-profile looks of games consoles, nor do they have to be ultra-mini like the Dell Zinio or Mac Mini. However, being low profile or offering something similar in that design certainly goes a long way to helping sell it to the punter after a unit for under their TV.
Within its diminutive case, you’ll find an Intel Core i5 3320M dual-core 2.6GHz CPU, 4GB of DDR3 1600MHz SO-DIMM RAM and a 5400rpm 2.5″ 500GB hard drive. Graphics are handled by the motherboard’s integrated Intel HD 4000 chipset, and other features include a 2-in-1 card reader, built-in wi-fi, Bluetooth 4.0, four USB 3.0 and a pair of USB 2.0 ports. HDMI and Mini-DisplayPort and a set of built-in SonicMaster speakers. There’s also, oddly enough, a serial port present.
It’s a rather flash design and is available with either a traditional black, metal finish or a more tantalising polished aluminium throughout. Popping the lid off reveals the storage compartment for the hard drive, which slots nicely into place through the use of a set of four rubberised supports that keep down vibration and suppress any sound, as well as holding everything in place. There’s a caddy available that will allow you to fit smaller SSD-sized drives without them rattling around should the unit be moved.
Naturally, aside from the RAM and hard drives, there’s not a lot of upgrade potential here, making the VivoPC more laptop in nature than desktop. But the base spec is reasonable enough to enjoy a wealth of media.
The benchmark scores weren’t as high as the other PCs in the group, with a PCMark7 score of 3020 and 3DMark score of 695. Our own tests proved to be good enough for most uses, with 1080p media performing well enough, with some minor glitching and tearing during Michael Bay-like action sequences and seasickness-inducing camera action. Unfortunately, though, the poor VivoPC didn’t take too kindly being hooked up to a 4K TV and force fed ultra-high definition content.
The Asus VivoPC VC 60V isn’t a bad media centre PC, provided you don’t try to push it beyond its limited resources -although to be fair, it’s far from being the best of the media centres in this group test. It’s certainly stylish enough to be place under a TV, and we think the addition of a decent-sized SSD would deliver a far more sprightly outcome to the media tests, along with faster RAM too. perhaps?
But the cost of the base specification will probably only appeal to those who require its niche design and looks, instead of performance and practicality.