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Reviews - Featured Reviews: Notebook | Compact PC
Written by Olin Coles   
Thursday, 01 July 2010
Table of Contents: Page Index
ASRock Core-100HT Intel i3-330M HTPC
ASRock Core 100 Features
Core 100HT Specifications
Closer Look: Asrock Core 100HT
ASRock HM55-HT Detailed Features
Motherboard Testing Methodology
PCMark Vantage Test Results
EVEREST CPU Benchmarks
Passmark PerformanceTest
Cinebench R11.5 Benchmarks
Street Fighter IV Benchmark
Lightweight Gaming Performance
ASRock HTPC Final Thoughts
ASRock Core 100HT Conclusion

Lightweight Gaming Performance

While most readers will understand that comparing integrated video on the ASRock Core 100HT HTPC to any NVIDIA GeForce or ATI Radeon add-in graphics solution would be unfair, and at the same time it's also unfair to match the integrated Intel HD Graphics chip to NVIDIA's GeForce 9400 GPU on the ION platform. While discrete graphics have the advantage of large memory buffers and powerful dedicated graphics processors, they can never fit inside the micro-size package an integrated or mobile GPU can. So what kind of games can the mobile GPUs play?

Benchmark Reviews has tested frame rate performance using several video games displayed at 720p (0.92 MP) and 1080p (2.07 MP) HDTV resolutions, and the ASRock Core 100HT HTPC platform proved itself capable of every streaming video and 2D application we threw at it. While playing 3D games the results were considerably different, even with relatively low-demand titles such as Team Fortress 2, World of Warcraft, or Fallout 3. These games were not very enjoyable when played on a 1080p HDTV, even with all of the settings turned down. At 720p (1280x720) the performance perked up, and frame rates made the video action more fluid. Perhaps I was being unrealistic, and expecting that people would actually pass-up their gaming console or PC just to play these games on an HTPC in the first place. After all, this still amounts to comparing integrated graphics against add-in video cards.

Battlefield_Heroes_Splash.jpg

Since most intense action and first-person shooter games are best experienced on high-resolution monitors and not HDTV resolutions, I decided to change my format and play some of the more entertaining titles that depend less on graphics power. The first was Battlefield Heroes, an online-only first-person shooter that requires very little graphic processing but still offers outstanding game play and hours of fun. Comparing the desktop gaming experience of playing Battlefield Heroes on high-resolution monitors (1680x1050 or 1920x1200) against the integrated Core i3 GPU experience on my 1080p HDTV actually offered no perceivable difference, which is exactly what desktop graphics should begin to fear.

When it came to games like Spore, The Sims, or parlor games such as Mahjong, Bejeweled 2, Solitaire, online Poker, or puzzles, the integrated Intel HD Graphics will work just fine. It's not uncommon for someone to play these games on a desktop computer, but it's much more comfortable to relax on a couch or recliner and take it all in with your feet up. The Intel Core i3-330's HD graphics chip certainly doesn't threaten gaming consoles since they've got advanced graphics processors and a proprietary format, but then again consoles don't have WoW, Spore, or The Sims to their credit. The bottom line is that integrated graphics on ASRock's Core 100HT system will handle all the streaming video content you can ask of it, but desktop-level graphics detail is reserved for 2D and entry-level 3D titles.



 

Comments 

 
# RE: ASRock Core-100HT Intel i3-330M HTPCv_lestat 2010-07-01 16:57
It is a home theater pc. Not a gaming machine or anything even remotely close to it.

On the other hand AsRock needs to have their heads examined... the intel 4500hd video chip...wtf.... you cant do hd decoding with that without crushing the cpu ...

Go back and use a nvidia chipset and watch it pur like a kitten thru Ll the hd content you have.
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# Cpu overhead when decoding HD ?Stef 2010-07-02 01:22
This looks nice enough to sit under my TV , but what about HD media ? Quality , cpu overhead , etc ?
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# Gaming on HTPCOlin Coles 2010-07-02 05:51
I think that many people would like to play video games on their HTPC, which is why we test graphics performance. You don't know what a product can do until you test it.

As for HD quality and CPU overhead, they were difficult to demonstrate because each media changed the outcome. DVDs were clean and lossless, MKV and flash each performed extremely well but had different CPU usuage depending on the source. Overall I didn't have any problems with HD media playback.

Encoding was not tested, aside from the included encoding tests that PCMark and Passmark perform.
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# They Can't Use Nvidia with Core i3Ryan 2010-07-07 11:24
Unfortunately to move to the Core i3 based processor, they cannot use an Nvidia chipset, which is how the Ion is packaged. They must use the Intel HD GPU that comes with the Core processors, or accept a separate GPU board through the PCI-e slot.

This is an Intel restriction, and a quite anti-competitive one at that.
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# intel HDmikeccuk2005 2010-07-03 08:30
GMA HD is a different story to hd4500 and other predecessor.
Just look at the score at hwbot.org 3000 3dmark06:
#hwbot.org/hardware/videocard/gma_hd?tab=rankings#/manufacturer.rankings.do?applicationId=12&manufacturer=intel&hardwareTypeId=GPU_1645&hardwareType=GPU&tabid=gpubenchmarks
compared to ion 1.9k:
#hwbot.org/hardware/videocard/nvidia_ion?tab=rankings#/manufacturer.rankings.do?applicationId=12&manufacturer=nvidia&hardwareTypeId=GPU_1530&hardwareType=GPU&tabid=gpubenchmarks
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# $400.00?????Swamp 2010-07-17 15:00
##newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16856158013

hmmmm......didn't quite make that
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# Thank youOlin Coles 2010-07-17 15:28
I appreciate the pricing update... that's quite a difference from the ION-330 series. I've updated the article with all the prices.
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# XBMC media centerHenrique Ferreira 2011-02-26 09:24
My ideia is to setup one of these in my house as a media center, running windows 7 64 bit and XBMC. Will i be able to playback 1080p and 720p movies and videos with 5.1 dts audio in this device properly???

Thanks in advance!!
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# RE: XBMC media centerOlin Coles 2011-02-26 11:56
Hello Henrique:
Yes, you can easily play back 1080p video with this and stream via HDMI for full DTS sound. I might suggest something that could play games, too:
benchmarkreviews.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=620
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# RE: RE: XBMC media centerHenrique Ferreira 2011-02-26 12:35
First of all, thanks for the fast reply! ;)
What are the main diferences between this and the Vision 3D?
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# RE: RE: RE: XBMC media centerOlin Coles 2011-02-26 13:56
Please read the Vision 3D review, because I explain it there in more detail.
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