Last year we examined the Vision 3D, the successor to the Core 100HT and Asrock's first mini PC to stray from the norm by dropping Intel's Atom processor for a much snappier Core Mobile chip. With significantly more CPU power, the results were impressive, but the Core 100HT still had one major weakness: Intel's HD Graphics.
To give you a quick rundown of Asrock's previous models, the Core 100HT used Intel's HM55 chipset and without the support of a discrete graphics card, it was forced to use the integrated graphics exclusively. Unsurprisingly, this resulted in by far the worst graphics performance we had seen in recent time from an Asrock mini PC.
Thankfully, Asrock got its act together with the Vision 3D, outfitting the system with Intel's Core Mobile processors (the flagship model carried a Core i5-560M). The company also kept the HM55 chipset but made one noteworthy change with the Vision 3D: the inclusion of an Nvidia GeForce GT425M discrete graphics card.
Granted, if you're serious about gaming, the GeForce GT425M doesn't have much to offer you. But it's good enough for casual gamers, as it provides the bare minimum for playable performance. The Vision 3D was a huge step forward in becoming the perfect HTPC in our opinion, as it allowed users to do a bit of everything.
In the end, we crowned Asrock's Vision 3D the ultimate small form factor computer and with that, we looked forward to what the company would deliver next. More than six months later, we now have the CoreHT Series, which promises to be the most powerful yet as it adopts the latest Sandy Bridge mobile processors.
The CoreHT Series includes three models that mostly vary based on the processor and the optical drive. The flagship is known as the 252B and it sports the Core i5 2520M along with a Blu-ray drive. The 231B gets a slower Core i3 2310M but keeps the Blu-ray drive, while the 231D is outfitted with the 2310M and a DVD drive.