Home Toys Review
- October 2006 -
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Creature HTPC Scylla S301 Media Server
Overall the Scylla S301 is a great choice for both a media PC and a high end gaming machine.
Creature HTPC's Scylla S301 is a top of the line media pc with a great set of hardware items including a whopping 1 terabyte of hard drive space and a Nvidia 7800GTX 3D card for all your modern gaming needs. The system includes a AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core 3800+ with 1 gig of ram housed on a Asus A8N-SLI Premium nForce4 motherboard.
Here is the complete feature list of the Scylla S301:
The Scylla comes housed in either a black or silver SilverStone horizontal case. The front plate is elegant and simple and looks great along side modern high end audio and video equipment. Additional USB, audio and firewire connection are available through a fold down panel.
Compared to desktop pcs the silverstone case seemed much quieter even with the large video card fan and dual rear fans. High end pcs can be noisy but the Scylla wasn't audible from my couch when positioned below my television.
For video, the system comes with a PCI Express NVIDIA GeForce 7800GTX video card with 256 megs of RAM. The card is more than capable of running the current generation of 3D PC games at a smooth frame rate in HDTV resolution and wide screen when the game supports it. It also supports high dynamic range lighting and has full DirectX® 9.0 Shader Model 3.0 Support so all of the next generation visual are supported.
For audio the Scylla comes with a really neat sound card from Auzentech called the Digital X-Plosion. The Digital X-Plosion has a feature known as Dolby Digital Live which converts any audio signal into a Dolby® Digital bit stream for transport and playback through a home theater system. This is great for games because it converts in realtime any games sound into Dolby 5.1.
The system also has another PCIExpress slot so in the future you can get a second 7800GTX and connect them with SLI.
The Scylla comes with a Hauppaauge PVR500 dual television tuner card and Beyond TV software. The PVR500 has two 125 channel cable ready TV tuners and using Beyond TV you can record the two streams simultaneously in Divx, MPEG-2 or WMV formats. You can also watch one channel while recording an other. Beyond TV's interface works great with the included Snapstream Firefly remote and their scheduling and listing service is completely free. The software alerts you of any recording conflicts and allows you to search for future programs based on title, actor etc.
The PVR500 also has a FM radio receiver.
Along with Beyond TV the Scylla also comes setup with Snapstream's Beyond Media Suite which manages all your music, photos and dvds. Using a front end similar to Microsofts Windows Media Center you can navigate through all of your media using wireless mouse and keyboard or the Firefly remote. Beyond Media's font is large enough to view from a distance and simplifies all of your media maintenance to one common interface.
With a giant 1 Terabyte of storage you can use the Scylla 301 as a home for your entire families media catalog. With this much available space I decided to encode all of my music with the lossless format FLAC. On average a full length CD took up 300 megs of hard drive space. Using standard MP3 encoding a CD takes up less than 100 megs. Either way the Scylla has plenty of room to store it all.
Communication with the people at CreatureHTPC was definitely a pleasure. Early on I had a few questions regarding video connections and monitor performance and they cleared up my confusion as well as pointing me to additional information online. With a highend system like the Scylla S301 you want to make sure its setup up optimally using the best available hardware and CreatureHTPC seems to know their stuff.
The Scylla arrived with Windows XP and all the necessary drivers and software already installed and configured. All that was left was was connecting the two cable streams, speakers and video to my home system. Creature HTPC already had the television scheduler configured for my area and the whole system was up and running within minutes.
They also included backup mirror DVDs of the system in case you need to do a complete re-install. In addition, they also install the application that lets you create restore disks. So once your system is all setup and exactly the way you want it, you can create a restore disk to return it to that state if you ever need to. You can also use the software to backup all your pictures and other priceless information to DVD and store it in a safety deposit box or other safe and convenient location.
Overall the Scylla S301 is a great choice for both a media PC and a high end gaming machine. I found 1 Terabyte of hard drive space more than enough space for any media I plan to have in the near future and the system's speed is definitely above almost all other media PCs currently available. Playing a first person shooter like ' Prey' or Battlefield 2 from my couch took a little getting use to but Nvidia's 7800GTX is a top of the line card and is capable of getting great frame rates at even 1280x768.