Specifications, Availability and Pricing
Above we get our first look at the specifications of the ASRock Core 100HD-BD nettop computer. As we just mentioned, this new generation system from ASRock marks the change from the low powered netbook Intel Atom processor to the more powerful Core mobile processors from Intel.
The system which we are looking at today is based on the Core i3-330M processor which comes clocked at 2.13GHz and 3MB of Intel Smart Cache. This Intel Socket PGA988 processor was launched at the start of this year and it is a dual-core Hyper Threading supported processor with a total of four threads. The chipset used is the Intel HM55 Express mobile chipset which comes with Intel HD Graphics. The system we received for review came with a total of 4GB of memory configured in dual-channel mode. The modules installed were two 2GB Elixir DDR3-1333 SO-DIMM sticks.
Along with the included Blu-ray optical drive was a Seagate Momentus 5400.6 500GB laptop sized 2.5-inch hard drive that spins at 5,400 RPM and uses a SATA 3Gb/s interface with 8MB of cache. It was a shame to see that a 7,200 RPM drive wasn't used, but that would only drive up the cost. If you want a speed boost, you would probably just replace it with a much faster SSD anyway.
On the audio side, you are very well covered. You not only get 7.1 channel HD audio with THX TruStudio Pro support, but thanks to use of the H55 chipset, you can also pass through HD audio over the HDMI connector for full Blu-ray HD audio support using bitstream. We have asked for this for a long time from nettop makers and it is fantastic to see ASRock listening. As far as networking goes, there is a single gigabit Ethernet port on the back and the unit also comes with 802.11n wireless for up to 300Mbps transfers. The system uses up to 90 watts of power (typically 50 - 80 watts according to ASRock, but we will measure that ourselves later in the review) and is nice and small with a volume of 2.5 liters and measurements of 195mm(W) x 70mm(H) x 186mm(L). The weight of the system with everything installed is only 1.72Kg; for a full computer that should be capable of some good things - impressive!
As far as price goes, we spotted the system on sale at Newegg for $699.99 USD with similar specifications as the unit we are reviewing here today. It's a bit rich for a nettop system, but keep in mind the Core 100HT-BD brings some vast improvements over previous models, so it only fits as to why it costs a couple hundred American bucks more. The cost of entry is set pretty high, but it could still turn out to be a very attractive proposition if it proves to be a solid home theater contender by performing well in our tests.