|ASRock Core-100HT Intel i3-330M HTPC|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Notebook | Compact PC|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Thursday, 01 July 2010|
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ASRock Core 100HT HTPC System Review
Benchmark Reviews has maintained a secret love affair with Home Theater PC hardware for many years, and the ASRock nettop series of compact HTPC systems continues to maintain its seductive allure. As multimedia standards are improved to handle larger bit rate formats, so does the hardware that produces them. The latest updates add SuperSpeed USB-3.0 functionality for attached storage devices, and THX TruStudio PRO technology to deliver a realistic audio experience. Other additions come in the shape of a wireless media center remote control, and uncompressed digital HDMI audio/video output.
It's been one year since we last tested an ASRock HTPC: the ION 330 AMCP7A HTPC armed with the NVIDIA GeForce 9400M GPU. Now equipped with Intel's Core i3-330M 2.13GHz dual-core mobile processor and Intel GMA HD integrated graphics on an ASRock HM55-HT mini-ITX HM55-Express motherboard with 4GB of DDR3, Benchmark Reviews tests high-definition video playback and gaming performance for the ASRock Core 100HT HTPC system.
For many years I've searched for the perfect home theater PC, and every time the 'perfect' combination was within reach a critical drawback would snatch it away. My criteria wasn't very strict, but a man's home theater is a trophy onto itself. The ideal HTPC needed to allow wireless Internet access, comfortable web browsing, fast file transfers, properly display multimedia content over native uncompressed HDMI, and also play PC video games. Not a very tall order, but still no short order by any measure. So while past HTPC projects have come close, the size and functionality have continued to create limitations. ASRock combines the mobile Intel Core-i3 processor and H55-Express platform to create a system that appears to meet my requirements for the ideal HTPC.
The problem has always been size and performance. High-performance notebook computers have evolved to the point where they can now replace desktop PC's, so it seems the age of large heavy-weight HTPC has come to pass. Equipped with a capable dual-core Intel Core i3-330M 2.13GHz CPU for processing power, the Core 100 series easily outpaces most other mobile/compact alternatives. Up to 4GB of 1066MHz DDR3 is supported by a 128-bit bandwidth lane from the ASRock HM55-Express motherboard.
Intel's Auburndale/Arrandale Integrated Graphics Controller (IGC) is termed 'Intel HD Graphics', and resides on the Core i3-330M processor die. The full hardware acceleration of MPEG-2, VC-1, and AVC formats is perfect for streaming video content over a native HDMI 1.3a connection at high-definition 1080p (or larger) resolutions, but a small 128MB shared video memory buffer and limited OpenGL 2.1 compatibility have me concerned about 3D gaming functionality.
About ASRock Inc.
ASRock Inc., established in 2002, target at entry to mainstream segment MB business, is an energetic company with the combination of technology and humanity. Devoting efforts to bring customers the innovative and reliable motherboards with the design concept of 3C, "Creative, Considerate, Cost-effective", ASRock has successfully established a well-known leading brand of the best price-performance motherboard in the industry. ASRock products' high recognition stems from company's devotion to bring the most cost-performance products to users.
Besides creative features and solid products, ASRock engineers also pay special attention to EMI, thermal, acoustics and details to achieve complete customer satisfaction. In addition to price-performance, creative and considerate features, ASRock also pay special on the issue of eco-environmental protection with the release of ROHS products and energy saving functions to save the environment.
To succeed in this ultra-competitive industry, ASRock provides great products with speed-to-market, cost and service to customers. Facing the constantly changing technologies of motherboard, ASRock will always keep the vision of the future and develop future-proof products upon our 3C design concept to our customers.