ASRock CoreHT-252B HTPC ReviewnVidia_Freak - July 28, 2011
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Tight fit! Only a little 40mm exhaust fan keeps air moving between the little nooks and crannies that are inside. So what specifically does ASRock put inside the CoreHT-252B? The optical drive is the DS-4E1S from Lite-On and is indeed only a 3x Blu-ray combo drive. The 4GB kit of DDR3-1333 SODIMMs are provided by ASint with a timing of 9-9-9-24. Not blazingly fast, but by no means slow. A 2.5" Western Digital Scorpio Black 500GB HDD has been chosen, and I don't quite care for this. Although using a 7200RPM, 16MB cache HDD does offer more performance over a 5400RPM, 8MB cache HDD such as those from the Scorpio Blue line, it does put out quite a bit more heat. With something so hot inside such a small space with little ventilation, directly above the processor heatsink, it makes high temps the norm, and overheating not an entirely unlikely occurrence. Nonetheless, there is indeed space for an additional 2.5" storage drive underneath the Scorpio Black. Since the Scorpio Black will get hot enough, and its already so close to the processor's heatsink, I wouldn't recommend adding a second drive unless both are solid state drives.
Although it's rather crowded inside the CoreHT's case, use of an external power brick rather than an internal power supply not only keeps the size small, but also keeps the heat inside the case as low as possible. Despite using a mobile Sandy Bridge chip, a small, low profile heatsink is used and there isn't a lot of airflow inside, so this is a necessary change. Underneath that small heatsink from Sunon lies the belly of the beast - a dual-core, Core i5 2520m. These second generation, 32nm Sandy Bridge processors are a little cooler than the first generation, and that's certainly a nice touch. The motherboard inside is also from ASRock, and is labeled as the HM65-HT, and the Northbridge underneath that small aluminum heastink is an H65 chipset. As ASRock allows upgrades, however, know that first and second generation mobile Sandy Bridge processors use different sockets (G1 and G2 respectively). Though sockets G1 and G2 are both 988-pin sockets, the layout differs slightly between them, and processors for one will not fit the other. An easy way to tell which you have, is that socket G2 processors will only work with H65 and H/P67 chipsets. And near the front left corner the Aetheros 802.11n mini-PCIe wireless card rests. Theoretically, you ought to be able to remove it and use the slot for anything else you might want, such as a third solid state drive.