June is the month to get your business organised. Enter today.
Medion Akoya P4400 (MD 8374) desktop PC
Medion puts a focus on media with its latest, AMD-based desktop PC
- Comes with a Blu-ray drive and a digital TV tuner
- Comes with 802.11n Wi-Fi
- Good overall CPU and graphics performance for the price
- Doesn't have DVI
This Medion Akoya P4400 PC goes on sale at Aldi on 24 August and it's well worth considering if you're after a basic PC that can also be used as a media centre. It comes with Blu-ray, a digital TV tuner and remote, Wi-Fi, and its AMD APU offers decent processing performance for office tasks and basic games.
Price$ 599.00 (AUD)
AMD doesn’t get much of a run in today’s desktop PCs and notebooks, but you’ll be able to find an AMD-based PC on sale at Aldi on 24 August. It will be in the shape of Medion’s Akoya P4400 (MD 8374) desktop PC, which is designed to be a bit of a media centre, and it costs just $599. Should you consider buying it?
If you’re after a basic desktop PC for the home, then you most certainly should. It has a good configuration that’s powerful enough for most office-style tasks, as well as heavy Web browsing, viewing streaming and local videos, watching digital TV, and it can also be used for some basic gaming — we’re talking mostly about simple games such as many titles downloaded from the Windows Store, rather than the latest 3D shooters, though it will do fine with older titles. Medion is aiming this PC at users who want a PC for entertainment, and to this end it ships with a USB-based digital TV tuner, a Blu-ray player, and a remote control.
The PC has a glossy fascia that looks attractive, though some of you might find reflections off the plastic to be a little annoying, especially if the PC is placed in a prominent position in the living room. The shape and available features of the case hasn’t changed since the last Medion desktop that we reviewed (the Akoya E4075 8320); you still get a couple of USB ports at the front (one USB 3.0, one USB 2.0), an SD card slot, and microphone and headphone jacks. At the top you will find the custom dock for Medion's external hard drives, which we've yet to see in action after all these years reviewing Medion desktops.
Moving to the back of the system, you'll find six more USB ports (two of those are USB 3.0), a Gigabit Ethernet port (based on a Realtek PCIe controller), analogue audio ports (7.1), S/PDIF audio output, and HDMI and VGA ports. PS/2 ports are also available. We're a little disappointed at the lack of a DVI port, but there's no doubt that HDMI is the better option for the purpose of this PC, which, as media centre, will allow it to be plugged directly into a flat-panel TV. Conveniently, the PC is shipped with 802.11n Wi-Fi pre-installed, and this means you can be online immediately, without having fiddle with networking cables. The performance of the Wi-Fi will depend on how far from the router you place the PC; we tested in the same room as our router.
Medion supplies a little, portable antenna with the digital TV tuner, which can be used if you don't have a rooftop antenna — however, you will want to plug it in to your rooftop antenna for the best possible reception. To our surprise, the portable antenna managed to pick up channels Seven, Ten, ABC, and NITV very well. We can't normally get so many channels with this type of portable antenna in our Test Centre's location in North Sydney, so this was a pleasant surprise.
Because Windows 8 doesn't have Media Centre built in by default, Medion ships the Akoya with Arcsoft TV instead. The supplied remote control, which has a USB-based radio receiver, is set to bring up this software when its Media Centre button is pressed. Arcsoft TV itself is easy to use, though its interface does look a little primitive when compared against the more modern-looking Windows 8 Desktop; the Arcsoft name in the titlebar is jaggy, and a big, green 'recording' label is shown on the screen at all times when you are recording a program.
The remote control works with Arcsoft TV (as well as PowerDVD, and it also controls the system volume), but if you view Arcsoft TV in windowed mode rather than full-screen mode, then it will only command the program when the Arcsoft TV Window has focus (that is, when you click on it with the mouse to make it the active window on the Desktop). You can pause live TV, change channels, access the EPG and play back recorded TV shows swiftly, all by using the remote control. It's a good software interface, and it helps to make the Medion Akoya P4400 quite an attractive proposition (especially for the price) if you want a PC that can be used in your living room as a media centre. You can play Blu-ray discs and DVDs through the installed Blu-ray combo drive, and CyberLink PowerDVD is used to facilitate this, but it is a clunky experience, mostly due to the load times for discs and their menu systems.
What enables all of this functionality is an AMD A8-5500 APU (AMD's term for a CPU that has graphics built in), which has four cores and a frequency of 3.2GHz. It's cooled by a half-height heat sink and fan, and there is a shroud that funnels in cool air from the side of the case. You probably won't be able to hear it running unless you place the PC on your desk and sit right next to it.
The AMD A8-5500 isn't the fastest CPU for a desktop PC, but its performance is still more than adequate for common tasks, including media transcoding and MP3 encoding. In our Blender 3D rendering test, it recorded a time of 45sec; in our iTunes test it took 1min 7sec to convert 53min worth of WAV files to 192Kbps MP3s, and in our HandBrake test it took 21min 42sec to turn a DVD file into an MP4. To put all this in perspective, these performance results are comparable to the latest high-end, Core i7 ultra-low voltage Ultrabooks; but, of course, you aren't paying a premium price (and you can't use the desktop PC on the bus or at a cafe).
The AMD A8-5500 is surrounded by 4GB of DDR3 SDRAM, a 1TB, 7200rpm hard drive, and AMD Radeon 7560D graphics are built right into the chip. The performance of this integrated graphics chip isn't too bad. In our old 3DMark06 test, it recorded a mark of 7518, which is a high score for a PC that doesn't have discrete graphics. It shows that some old games can be run on it quite well. In the latest 3DMark, the Ice Storm test recorded 44183, the Cloud Gate test got 4376, and the Fire Strike test mustered 732. These are also solid results.
Storage is handled by a 7200rpm Seagate hard drive that has a 1TB capacity. It's perfect for storing lots of recorded TV shows and other media, and it also proved to be quite quick in our tests (at least, it was quick while it wasn't heavily populated with data). In CrystalDiskMark, it recorded a read rate of 182.3 megabytes per second (MBps), and an almost identical write rate of 182.5MBps. It's the first time we've seen a mechanical drive write sequential data faster than it could read it, albeit by a couple of hairs.
We found the overall performance of the AMD-based Medion to be more than adequate for daily Web browsing habits and multitasking, and we think it will serve well as a family or ‘homework’ PC in addition to a media centre. Some expansion is possible, too. Mainly, there is one 3.5in drive bay free at the front of the case, and you can add a discrete graphics card through the free PCIe x16 slot on the microATX motherboard. The power supply is 350W with a 20-pin power connector, and the machine consumed a maximum of 97W when it was under a full load (it consumed between 32W and 36W when idling).
The Akoya P4400 (MD8374) also ships with a USB keyboard and a USB mouse for its $599 price. It will be going on sale at Aldi stores on 24 August and, as with most Medion PCs that we’ve reviewed, we think it’s worth considering if you want an inexpensive desktop PC for the home.
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