ASROCK COREHT - One-box entertainment solution

4/28/2012 11:34:03 AM

Is this the one-box entertainment solution we've been waiting for?

Depending on how you measure it, ASRock's all-in-one CoreHT is smaller than a Mac Mini. Plus it comes with a built-in Blu-ray drive and front-facing USB B.O ports for other media. So is this the perfect living room companion for your telly?

Description: Description: ASROCK COREHT

It certainly looks good, in its tiny tin enclosure lacquered in glossy black. Attach a USB TV card and it's realistically a replacement for most set-top boxes in a chassis smaller than most Freeview tuners.

The ASRock  CoreHT 252B, then, really is a media box par excellence. The Core i5 2320M processor also features Intel's higher-end HD3000 graphics tech and Creative's THX ProStudio audio is built into the slim box.

It seems flawless: the ultimate NAS box, entertainment device and workstation all in one. Have we finally found the one-box future of the digital home?

Silence is golden

The more you prod and push the CoreHT, the more there is to like about it. For the most part, it’s near silent. The only noisy component is the Blu-ray drive. The tiny box is power efficient too. The whole system idles at just over 26 watts. At no point did it consume more than 80 watts. That's a lot of power-hungry technology you can recycle to make you feel good about your carbon footprint.

Sadly, its strengths are also its weaknesses. The no-compromise components are right on the edge of what it's possible to put in a box this size, and they run hot. The CPU never dropped below 60°C in our tests, and once the Blu-ray fires up or a CPU-intensive task starts, it’s a furnace in there and the fans kick in. There's room for an extra hard drive, but you’d think twice before fitting one. It's noticeably loud, even if it is Red October compared to an older Xbox 360.

More critical, however, is the price. You'd struggle to build a system like this, but only because getting hold of a Socket 1155 mini-ITX motherboard and case this small would take a lot of diligently hunting down.

Doing so probably wouldn't save you much - all things considered - but at this price, there are certain things we would expect included. Like an IR receiver, without which the included remote is so much wasted plastic, or Blu-ray playback software so you can watch films on your new drive. Critical, you might argue, but missing from the CoreHT.

More importantly, you need to supply your own copy of Windows, which takes the total price to almost $1120. That's a lot of money considering the alternatives out there.

There are many good streaming devices for less than $160: an Atom-based media centre is $400, a Mac Mini is $976 and Core i5 laptops start at $800. Plus internet-enabled Blu-ray players, TVs and PVR boxes make media centres slightly irrelevant anyway.

The CoreHT appeals to almost every one of our senses because it’s a good looking, do-everything box. But that's not essential enough to justify the price.


Price $1004.8

Manufacturer ASRock


Product code CoreHT 252B-4G50/B

CPU Intel Core 15 2520M


Storage 500GB HDD

Optical drive Blu-ray

Dimensions 195 x 180 x 70mm

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