Sunday, September 4, 2011

ASRock CoreHT 252B Review

The small form factor (SFF) HTPC market has been steadily growing over the last few years. As mobile processors become more and more powerful, it is becoming easier for users to be satisfied with their performance even in desktop configurations.
 The DIY HTPC crowd has a marked preference for mini-ITX motherboards and cases. However, the excessive TDP of desktop CPUs resulted in complicated thermal designs and noisy results. Thermal designs for systems with mobile CPUs with 35W TDPs are fairly straightforward and not very noisy. In fact, it is even possible to create systems which are fully passively cooled.
 ASRock has three HTPC families catering to the entry level, mid-range and high-end markets. While the ION based HTPCs form the entry level, the Core series serves the mid-range and the Vision series caters to the high-end. Today, we will be looking in detail at the CoreHT 252B, the second generation Core series HTPC from ASRock. First off, let us take a look at the configuration of the review unit sent to us by ASRockASRock CoreHT 252B HTPC Specifications
Processor  Intel Sandy Bridge Core i5-2520M
 (2 x 2.50 GHz (3.20 GHz Turbo), 32nm, 3MB L2, 35W)
Chipset  Intel HM65
Memory  2 x 2GB DDR3-1333
Graphics  Intel HD Graphics 3000
 650 MHz / 1.3 GHz (Turbo)
Hard Drive(s)  500GB 7200RPM 2.5" HDD
 (Western Digital Scorpio Black WD5000BEKT)
Optical Drive  Blu-ray/DVDRW Combo
Networking  Gigabit Ethernet
 802.11b/g/n (2T2R Atheros AR5B97 in AzureWave AW-NE121H mini-PCIE card)
Audio  Microphone and headphone/speaker jacks
 Capable of 5.1/7.1 digital output with HD audio bitstreaming (optical SPDIF/HDMI)
Operating System  Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit (Retail unit is barebones)
Extras  THX TruStudio Pro Audio Certification
 IR receiver and MCE remote
Pricing  TBD

 ASRock has three configurations of the CoreHT series available. Two of them have the Core i3-2310M processor (one with a Blu-ray drive - CoreHT 231B, and the other with a DVD drive - CoreHT 231D). The review unit is the CoreHT 252B with the Core i5-2520M processor. This comes with a Blu-ray drive.

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