|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 HM55-HT Detailed Features
When you task your design engineers with building on a micro-sized scale, component placement must be handled with the utmost efficiency for the system to work. ASRock has done an excellent job finding a home for everything needed to bring the HM55-HT platform to life on the mini-ITX form factor. From the overhead view illustrated below, you can see that there's very little open or available space inside the proprietary ASRock enclosure.
Compared to the recently tested ASRock AMCP7A motherboard, the ASRock HM55-HT motherboard is more directly designed for HTPC purposes. The component layout is completely different, with one additional SATA port and a mini-PCI Express port that is filled with a Atheros AR9287 wireless network adapter. These two features, along with the added eSATA port, Realtek RTL8168/8111 PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet adapter, and NEC uPD720200 SuperSpeed USB-3.0 controller all add up to reasons why the Core 100 series could be the ideal all-in-one HTPC Media Center solution.
ASRock has used its experience with previous HTPC designs to assemble the most complete all-in-one kit possible with the series. All-solid capacitors prolong component lifetime and can endure harsh operating conditions, and the thick PCB is quality made. Users are still given the freedom to choose and install the Operating System that best fits their needs, whether that OS is Windows or Linux, which helps cut down on production costs.
Engineers designed the ASRock HM55-HT motherboard inside the Core 100 HTPC to be completely silent. To reach this goal, unnecessary electronic components were stripped from the design and remaining hardware was orientated in-line with the enclosures front-to-rear airflow. Notice that the DDR3 DIMM modules and Intel Core i3-330M processor are positioned directly in-line with the airflow channel between a front bezel vent and the only exhaust fan inside this compact case.
The ASRock Core 100 series all feature the 2.13GHz dual-core Intel Core i3-330M mobile processor. The i3-330M includes 3MB (128KB L1 per core, 512KB L2 per core, and 3072KB shared L3) of Intel Smart Cache memory on a 32nm process, and includes Intel's 64-bit instruction set. The i3-330M maintains a 35-watt TDP, which operates separately from the 45nm Intel HD Graphics integrated 367MHz Ironlake-M GPU. The CPU processor measures 81mm2 while the GPU measures 114mm2, and both are cooled by a low-profile heatsink and silent blower fan assembly.
Conversely, the mobile Intel HM55-Express chipset is cooled by a basic alloy heatsink by way of passive airflow cooling. Storage is managed by Intel's 5-series/3400 chip, and offers four SATA-3Gbps data channels. High-definition audio is available through the VIA VT2020 chip, as well as Intel's Ibex Peak PCH via HDMI.
ASRock includes two dual-channel 2GB SoDIMM modules of ASint Technology SSZ3128M8-EDJ1D DDR3-1333 (667MHz), which offer the following latency timings:
The ASRock HM55-HT motherboard supports only 1.5 volt DDR3 SoDIMM memory, so upgrades to 8GB (maximum allowed by motherboard and Intel i3 limitations) will need to maintain JEDEC standards.
One particular perk included with the ASRock Core 100HT kit is a included Windows Media Center remote control, which transmits to the integrated Microsoft eHome Infrared Transceiver on the HM55-HT motherboard. The remote is full-function, and supports all MCE functions. While some users may consider a separate remote unnecessary, since most HTPC users will undoubtedly utilize a Media Center specific keyboard such as the nMedia HTPCKB, it helps transition the PC into a fully-integrated home theater component.