Late last year, we took a look at the ASRock CoreHT 252B, a Sandy Bridge-based midrange HTPC. We liked the CoreHT quite a bit, noting that the small form factor HTPC was a solid choice for most users in this segment. It was hit all the key points, though it didn’t do anything in particular to set itself apart from the rest of the SFF crowd. Our main complaints centered around the hard drive performance, and to that end comes the ASRock CoreHT Server.

It’s very similar to the CoreHT we reviewed before, even sharing nearly the same specs. The one major difference: there’s two 500GB HDDs in the place of one, configured in RAID 0. Other than that, there’s the same mobile Sandy Bridge internals, headlined by the HM67 chipset and Core i5-2410M processor.

ASRock CoreHT Server Edition HTPC Specifications
Processor Intel Sandy Bridge Core i5-2410M
(2 x 2.30 GHz (2.90 GHz Turbo), 32nm, 3MB L2, 35W)
Chipset Intel HM67
Memory 2 x 2GB DDR3-1333
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 3000
650 MHz / 1.2 GHz (Turbo)
Hard Drive(s) 2 x 500GB 7200RPM 2.5" HDD (RAID 0)
(Western Digital Scorpio Black WD5000BEKT, Hitachi HTS7250)
Optical Drive Blu-ray/DVDRW Combo
Networking Gigabit Ethernet
802.11b/g/n (2T2R Atheros AR5B97 in AzureWave AW-NE121H mini-PCIE card)
Audio Microphone and headphone/speaker jacks
Capable of 5.1/7.1 digital output with HD audio bitstreaming (optical SPDIF/HDMI)
Operating System Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit (Retail unit is barebones)
Extras THX TruStudio Pro Audio Certification
IR receiver and MCE remote
Pricing TBD

ASRock’s Core HTPC line is their midrange model, slotting between the entry level ION-based machines and the high-end Vision 3D units. The Server is externally exactly the same as the 252B, so I’ll refer you back to that review for more details on the unboxing experience. The CoreHT case is glossy black, mostly angular, but the industrial design is understated and fits well in an A/V cabinet. I like the two USB 3.0 ports on the front, as well as the understated nature of the design. The industrial design isn’t premium by any means, but it’s generally inoffensive and doesn’t bring attention to itself, which is perhaps the most important visual trait for an HTPC.

There’s a decent array of ports on the back, with four USB 2.0 ports, another pair of USB 3.0 ports, eSATA, SPDIF, Gigabit Ethernet, VGA, and of course HDMI. Cooling is handled with an intake vent on the front of the system and a small exhaust fan at the back.

ASRock CoreHT Server Edition - Internals
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  • legolasyiu - Thursday, February 16, 2012 - link

    Aopen has HTPC called Digital Engine 67 (DE67) that can have same performance with 24/7 up-time and industrial grade design. Mini PC 67 (MP67) is good comparison with this unit. I hope Anandtech can test it some day.

    ASRock has 2x500GB HDD which will be fast HDD performance.
  • ZRohlfs - Thursday, February 16, 2012 - link

    Since when is an HTPC server going to have all of 1 terrabyte?

    Secondly, why is there no SDD?

    This is just an expensive poor excuse for an HTPC, especially since the CPU cannot properly perform the video tasks it needs too.

  • cknobman - Thursday, February 16, 2012 - link

    Then no llano no bueno. HTPC needs to be able to handle media better than Intels pathetic integrated gpu.

    Waste of build materials and a waste of time reviewing it.
  • pirspilane - Thursday, February 16, 2012 - link

    My Core 100HT is a nightmare. It has been defective since day one, and ASRock can't fix it. I am on my fourth RMA and they have just issued a fifth one. They've replaced the motherboard twice, and each time it would not boot straight out of the box. It will not boot even with nothing installed except the out of date drivers from their CD. It has blue-screened and hung on boot since I got it.

    Their technical support is incompetent (I'm being generous here). Once, they suggested the problem was caused by my TV. Then they said it was a problem with the video card even though it doesn't have one. Then they blamed it on Windows Update. Taking them at their word (which I don't recommend), you cannot update Windows 7 to SP1 or this will break the computer.

    Don't even dream of installing an SSD unless you're eager to break the Guiness Book of BSOD Records.
  • faizoff - Thursday, February 16, 2012 - link

    That does indeed sound like a nightmare. It's one of the reasons why I'm considering building my own HTPC. Not sure what to do yet.
  • pirspilane - Thursday, February 16, 2012 - link

    I just got off the phone with them and they are going to replace the entire unit and pay for shipping both ways. So while their tech guy is frustrating to deal with, the customer service people are more helpful.
  • pirspilane - Friday, February 24, 2012 - link

    I called them to find out the details about the replacement unit they promised to send, and they said they didn't have a replacement unit to send me.

    In other words, they were BSing me to get me sucked back into letting them try to fix it again.

    Their technicians cannot fix their products. Twice, they have asked me what repairs I want them to make on the unit. I guess that's so they don't have to take responsibility for diagnosing and fixing it.
  • shiznit - Thursday, February 16, 2012 - link

    raid 0 in a server?
  • siniranji - Thursday, February 16, 2012 - link

    if the cabinet has the heatsink kind of look and some nitrogen based cooling (like thin client) required. Moreover the look seems like amatureish./ needs amd / nividia graphics too
  • gamoniac - Thursday, February 16, 2012 - link

    Vivek, I skimmed over a few times but didn't notice any dimensions or measurements of the unit (I apologize if you did include it). It would also be nice if you can place another object (coin, ruler) in the picture to give us an idea of the actual size of the HTPC. Thanks.

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