ASRock CoreHT-252B HTPC ReviewnVidia_Freak -
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Should you buy it? The answer depends on what your needs are. If you need something to act simply as a playback station, I might suggest looking elsewhere. An Atom or even a lower-end Intel Core series HTPC, of which ASRock offers several, would suit those requirement much better.
If, on the other hand, you want an HTPC that can also act as a desktop replacement, look no further. There's adequate power for rendering of all sorts and the included RAM ought to cover most non-professional needs, but, if more is required, the board does support 8GB. Storage can be upgraded to include another 2.5" storage drive, and the included WD Scorpio Black could easily be replaced with an SSD. If more power is needed, the board will support the Core i7 2720m for more processing power (two more cores and threads!). A Blu-ray drive and wireless 802.11n wireless are included as standard. The CoreHT-252B could very well be the best potential desktop replacement capable of all sorts of media playback and streaming no matter where you are.
Unfortunately, all the performance geared equipment inside does make for a rather toasty rig. Only one 40mm fan takes care of airflow and for the most part it does the job well enough and does it quietly. Ramp the activity up, however, and things start to get a little bit loud and quite a bit hotter. Certainly the temperatures remain in spec - just remember not to shove it into a poorly ventilated area.
Finally, price and availability may be of a concern. At this moment only a few shops in the UK and Europe stock the CoreHT-252B with an average price of £570. Using a direct conversion this works out to $918 USD, but, prices between the USA and the rest of the world rarely match currency for currency. Once this does start to be sold here I imagine that it would sell for around $750-800 USD. It's a little pricey, particularly considering no operating system is included in that price, but, it does put it in line with the rest of ASRock's HTPC offerings.
Recommended? It depends on where you are. For those that are in Europe or the UK, I might suggest waiting for the price to go down a bit or looking for any open-box sales. For those of you in North America, all I can say is wait and see. On performance, features, and overall coolness, it's a great little thing and I would recommend it on that alone. Unfortunately, no matter what price the CoreHT-252B ends up selling for here or anywhere, more will have to be put into it for an OS. Recommended? Maybe.
- Very compact
- Excellent included hardware and features
- Top-notch performance
- Very upgradable
- OS not included
- Excessive heat
- Possibly rather pricey