Assassin’s Elite HTPC: Three Months In (About.com Review) - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 19 Old 05-19-2012, 01:34 PM - Thread Starter
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Link to Review on About.com

Quote:


You might remember my review of Assassin's Elite HTPC from a few months back. The company has allowed me to hold on to the device for an extended period to really put it through some paces and I've decided to come back and report on the findings.

No matter what you've read about Media Center in Windows 8, the version most people currently use (Windows 7) will continue to work well into the future so no, the Home Theater PC isn't dead quite yet and the Elite shows it.

Power and Stability

After my initial review, I decided that it was time to really push the Elite system to ensure that it could hold up as a daily driver for anyone looking for a pre-built HTPC solution. With that in mind, I installed two different Ceton InfiniTV tuners (A 4-tuner USB and a 6-tuner PCIe device). This gave me a total of 10 tuners to use at any time. I also went ahead and installed Total Media Theater 5 for Blu-ray playback. Other software included RecordedTV HD and Media Browser. The entire system was installed in my living room and connected to our family's Windows Home Server where archived TV shows and movies are maintained.

Over the course of several months we've used the Elite as our daily Media Center PC in our living room. It also serves content to four Xbox 360 extenders throughout our home. During this time, the Elite has been nothing but exceptional when it comes to the demands we've placed on it. The system has yet to lock up, dump running programs or have any sort of hardware issue while in use.

Recording and viewing television is the main function for our family and the Elite never hesitates when accessing all of the content we record. When you consider that this includes all of the metadata associated with the recordings, this is no small feat. Accessing and displaying this much data can pound on an HTPC and the Elite never stutters or drops the ball when it comes to pulling content.

The same can be said when accessing our archived media. With full gigabit support to the server, movies and TV shows load quickly and playback begins almost instantly. Once Total Media Theater 5 was installed, Blu-ray playback within Media Center (though not perfect) was excellent. Any issues during playback had everything to do with TMT5 and not the hardware running it.

The whole point here is that no matter what I've asked the Elite HTPC to do, it has done the task without issue. From streaming Netflix to pushing HD TV to three extenders at a time to recording up to six HD shows at once, nothing has phased the system. It doesn't even seem to blink no matter what is asked of it. (And yes, we are heavy TV and movie watchers.)

The Single Downfall

If the Assassin Elite has one knock against it, it would have to be the fans. More than likely this is mainly due to the fact that I've installed a six-tuner Ceton InfiniTV CableCARD tuner. These devices tend to run a bit hot and in a smaller case like the one surrounding the Elite, heat is going to be an issue. That means the fans need to run on a pretty constant basis. Still, for a device that's designed to go in the living room, being as silent as possible is important it's probably the one improvement that could be made to this particular PC. I should note however that I can only hear the fans running when nothing is playing back on the TV. Once you're actually viewing content, you shouldn't notice the fans. Suffice to say that they're much quieter than the original Xbox that I run in my kitchen.

Long-term Conclusion

Overall, I've been nothing but happy with the Assassin Elite. So much so that instead of returning the HTPC to the company that produced it, I'm now looking to purchase it so it can have a permanent home. After years of using custom built PCs which worked well, it's nice to have a device that runs so smoothly without having to deal with quite as many issues as something that's home built.

While the Elite will run you $799 (without a tuner), the stability and power that it brings to the table are well worth it. Simply being able to use your system and not spend your time adjusting and tweaking is worth the extra money you'll spend over buying the hardware and assembling it yourself.

As well, though the $799 might seem steep, remember that a TiVo Premiere XL4 (with a lifetime subscription) will run you $900. If you combine an Assassin Elite with a Ceton InfiniTV4, you're getting the same features plus great Media Center software for the same money.



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post #2 of 19 Old 05-19-2012, 02:03 PM
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Congrats on the excellent review, Assassin. Well deserved!
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post #3 of 19 Old 05-19-2012, 02:07 PM
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Ceton has a 6 tuner pcie card?

Congrats btw.
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post #4 of 19 Old 05-19-2012, 06:41 PM
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Originally Posted by whiteboy714 View Post

Ceton has a 6 tuner pcie card?

Congrats btw.

That's what I was wondering. Maybe he is beta testing it.

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post #5 of 19 Old 05-19-2012, 07:08 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by kegobeer View Post

Congrats on the excellent review, Assassin. Well deserved!

Quote:
Originally Posted by whiteboy714 View Post

Congrats btw.

Thanks. My team thanks you as well.


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post #6 of 19 Old 05-21-2012, 11:36 AM
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Great review there! Congrats!
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post #7 of 19 Old 05-21-2012, 11:59 AM
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Maybe you should build an HTPC that is water cooled, then you will have 0 negatives

GJ as always.
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post #8 of 19 Old 05-21-2012, 12:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bryansj View Post

That's what I was wondering. Maybe he is beta testing it.

The only 6 tuner I know of is the Q...
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post #9 of 19 Old 05-21-2012, 12:38 PM
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Great review. Congrats. You're on a roll.

Looks like you may need to buy a case of Noctuas though.

(As an aside, I found a terrific fan the other day that moves a lot of air and is very quiet and solid called the "Gentle Typhoon" by Scythe. Ordered it from Amazon on a whim, and really like it, but wouldn't you know, it looks like Scythe doesn't make it any more. Figures.)
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post #10 of 19 Old 05-21-2012, 12:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HunterX82 View Post

Maybe you should build an HTPC that is water cooled, then you will have 0 negatives

GJ as always.

With water cooling you are trading fan noise for pump noise.

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post #11 of 19 Old 05-21-2012, 01:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bryansj View Post

With water cooling you are trading fan noise for pump noise.

And somehow I doubt if most people to whom Assassin is trying to sell HTPCs really have in mind having a liquid cooled computer in their living room, TV room, or bedroom. Hardly seems destined to increase sales.
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post #12 of 19 Old 05-21-2012, 03:07 PM - Thread Starter
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I think its pretty impressive that he has a hard drive, SSD, optical drive and Ceton card in a ITX build and can barely hear the fan.

I will take that criticism any day.


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post #13 of 19 Old 05-22-2012, 06:58 AM
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Yeah, I'm really loving mine. I kinda wish I didn't "cheap out" when upgrading from my Boxee Box and instead of buying a Dune D1 just buy one of your HTPCs. I would have saved the $300 or so I spent on the Dune and put that towards adding an SSD and a bluray drive to the PC I bought from you. I would have probably upgraded to a dual tuner as well since right I have to switch inputs to use my TV's built-in tuner if I'm recording something.

I have PowerDVD set up as an external player in XBMC for my bluray ISO rips but I'll most likely keep the Dune to play them since I can't get PowerDVD to output the uncompressed PCM soundtrack on some of my rips like Kill Bill and Apocalypto. Either way, this has been one of the best HT investments I've made and I really wish I had gotten into this sooner instead of wasting time and money with media streamers that either did one thing really great while sucking at another or just doing a mediocre job all around. Now I pretty much have the best of all worlds since I get great DVR functionality, online streaming media from a wide variety of sources, and great handling of my local media all with fully customizable and beatiful user interfaces.

Just because I don't care, doesn't mean I don't understand.
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post #14 of 19 Old 05-22-2012, 07:35 AM
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Great review and Congratulations.
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post #15 of 19 Old 05-22-2012, 11:01 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe 6 Pack View Post

Yeah, I'm really loving mine. I kinda wish I didn't "cheap out" when upgrading from my Boxee Box and instead of buying a Dune D1 just buy one of your HTPCs. I would have saved the $300 or so I spent on the Dune and put that towards adding an SSD and a bluray drive to the PC I bought from you. I would have probably upgraded to a dual tuner as well since right I have to switch inputs to use my TV's built-in tuner if I'm recording something.

I have PowerDVD set up as an external player in XBMC for my bluray ISO rips but I'll most likely keep the Dune to play them since I can't get PowerDVD to output the uncompressed PCM soundtrack on some of my rips like Kill Bill and Apocalypto. Either way, this has been one of the best HT investments I've made and I really wish I had gotten into this sooner instead of wasting time and money with media streamers that either did one thing really great while sucking at another or just doing a mediocre job all around. Now I pretty much have the best of all worlds since I get great DVR functionality, online streaming media from a wide variety of sources, and great handling of my local media all with fully customizable and beatiful user interfaces.

Thanks. I am really glad you are enjoying your HTPC!


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post #16 of 19 Old 05-22-2012, 11:03 AM - Thread Starter
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I received this in a PM from an AVS member this morning and thought I would share.

I really liked the bolded part as it make me chuckle!

Quote:


My review of your product on Amazon

Asssassin,Here is the review I wrote on the HTPC
I purchased from you guys in April. I am very
happy with my HTPC. Best success to you and
your brother.


"Slash Your Cable TV Bill!! (It's easy), May 21, 2012
By Skully
This review is from: Assassin HTPC PROFESSIONAL (Personal Computers)
High speed internet is the future of home entertainment! I Ordered my Assassin HTPC
and received it in April of 2012. I became
very intersted in connecting a computer to
my Sony HDTV/Paradigm surround sound system.
We all are aware of the vast entertainment
options on the internet: Netflix, youtube
etc etc. I wanted a system to use in my
living room. I also wanted to CUT my $120
a month cable bill.

My Assassin HTPC fits this bill and so much
more. I ordered my system and had "BEN" set
it up for me so I could use it right out of
box. I am a 55 year old salesman with only
basic computer skills. It worked exactly as
promised with only one minor glitch,which
was easily fixed by "Ben" via remote log-in.
The picture is upscaled via HDMI to my HDTV.
My AVR displays all the correct surround sound
codecs. It looks and sounds GREAT! The HTPC is
about the size of a shoebox.

I have learned how to copy my collection of
dvd's onto the huge Hard drive for easy access.
The dvds are now all boxed up in the attic now.
They are displayed on the Assassin HTPC in stunning fashion! I am now streaming TV shows,
mini-series,sports and movies too.

All of your entertainment needs can be found
on the internet-its easy! If I can do it,so
can you. My cable bill is now about $40 per
month, mostly because I live in the 'sticks'
and can't receive over the air 'free' TV.
I have not rented a movie or bought a pay-per-view since I got my HTPC. My HTPC will pay for itself in 6 months.

I like to tell the story of when my 'techie'
daughter and son-in-law came over to check out my set-up. They were stunned! My daughter
looked at me and said,"Dad this is embrassing,
we are supposed to be the ones showing you
how to do things like this,not the other way
around!"


Assassin HTPC's goal is to bring the HTPC to
the masses. They are a great bunch to deal with,
very patient and understanding.

I highly recommend you check them out!"



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post #17 of 19 Old 05-22-2012, 01:06 PM
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That's a really nice review. It's so great when technology ends up enriching peoples lives rather than frustrating them as is so common.
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post #18 of 19 Old 08-30-2012, 02:40 PM
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Hey Assassin. The website looks great, and love the "Let Assassin Help" links. I will be contacting you soon!
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post #19 of 19 Old 08-30-2012, 09:26 PM
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If I was going to buy instead of build, I know who I would buy an HTPC from.
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