ASRock CoreHT-252B HTPC ReviewnVidia_Freak -
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General Usage, Blu-ray Playback, & Gaming:
It may come as no surprise that ASRock's CoreHT-252B sails through everything thrown at it. Internet, Java, Flash, word processing, number crunching, the 252B eats it up and asks for more. Thanks in large part to its second generation Sandy Bridge processor, the CoreHT-252B is much more than an HTPC. Rendering and crunching are also well within this rig's realm.
Blu-ray playback is smooth and lovely, and the only downside is that PowerDVD seems still to be the only software that can playback Blu-ray movies in Windows. Of all the things the CoreHT-252B can do, the one thing it can't do particularly well is game. This ought not to come as a surprise since the graphics chip this second generation Sandy Bridge processor has is Intel's HD Graphics 3000. This is, of course, a decent performer considering how far Intel's integrated graphics have come, but it still lacks some features of outboard cards and its performance is still comparatively lacking.
That said, if one is thinking of playing Crysis 2, one should look elsewhere. However, this little machine is capable of running Minecraft reasonably well, with some stuttering whilst chunks are loaded. Admittedly, this is most of the time in Minecraft, but, once the chunks are loaded, Intel's graphics solution has no issue handling what's on screen. Anything similar or lower in quality than Minecraft (think: old games), will play just fine. The CoreHT-252B truly is a multi-use mini PC and not simply an HTPC to be tucked into a corner.
Temperatures were measured while idling at the desktop and while running the Prime95 FPU stress test on all four threads to get an idea of what temperature range the processor will perform in. All temperatures were recorded in an environment with an ambient of approximately 25.5° centigrade.
Hot! Hot! Unfortunately, the i5 2520m gives off quite a bit of heat. Part of this is due to the fact the ambient temperature is much higher in my household, however, the i5 will still idle and load a little higher than an Atom will. This is no shock since the Atom is not geared toward spectacular performance and is geared toward minimum power consumption.
Fortunately, however hot the i5 2520m was during testing, a 20° centigrade buffer is still left over. When the processor gets this hot, however, both the CPU and exhaust fan ramp up to full speed and are actually rather loud. They are small, 40mm fans, and I am pleased that they aren't louder than they are. What does all this mean? It means one just might be able to bring this with to Hell should one find one's self in such a plight.