Asrock CoreHT 252B HTPC Evaluation

Asrock had a frantic show during this year's Taipei Computex, armed to the teeth with various new products including motherboards based on new chipsets like the Intel Z68 and AMD 990FX. While we showcase a wide variety of boards, our interest was piqued by the latest in the company's long line of mini-PCs.

Last year we researched the Vision 3D, the successor to the Core 100HT and Asrock's first mini PC that deviated from the norm by ditching the Intel Atom processor for a much faster Core Mobile chip. With significantly more CPU power, the results were impressive, but the Core 100HT still had one major weakness: Intel's HD graphics.

To give you a quick overview of the previous Asrock models, the Core 100HT used the HM55 chipset from Intel. Without the support of a discrete graphics card, only the integrated graphics had to be used. Unsurprisingly, this resulted in by far the worst graphics performance we've seen from an Asrock mini PC in recent times.

Fortunately, Asrock teamed up with the Vision 3D and equipped the system with Intel's Core Mobile processors (the flagship model was equipped with a Core i5-560M). The company also kept the HM55 chipset, but made a notable change with the Vision 3D: the inclusion of a discrete Nvidia GeForce GT425M graphics card.

Granted, if you're serious about gaming, the GeForce GT425M doesn't have much to offer. But it's good enough for the casual gamer as it offers the bare minimum for playable performance. The Vision 3D was a huge step forward in our opinion to become the perfect HTPC as it allowed users to do a little of everything.

In the end, we crowned Asrock's Vision 3D as the ultimate small form factor computer and looked forward to what the company delivers next. More than half a year later, we now have the CoreHT series, which promises to be the most powerful yet as it uses the latest Sandy Bridge mobile processors.

The CoreHT series comprises three models that differ depending on the processor and optical drive. The flagship is known as the 252B and has the Core i5 2520M as well as a Blu-ray drive. The 231B gets a slower Core i3-2310M but keeps the Blu-ray drive, while the 231D comes with the 2310M and a DVD drive.

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