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BIOS, AIWI, And General Use

ASRock Core 100HT-BD Home Theater PC

The Core 100HT-BD boasts a surprisingly robust BIOS, considering it’s based on a mobile chipset. We’re not used to being able to tweak low-level laptop settings, so this BIOS offers a refreshing degree of control.

The next page contains ASRock overclocking options, the first being Turbo 30, which can be used as a quick way to boost system performance by 25% or 30% depending on the selected option. After this, we see EZ OC settings that can modify specific components like the CPU, memory, or GPU clocks to pre-selected levels. After the EZ OC settings, there are more specific low-level controls for individual frequencies and ratios. All of these are really nice to have, but obviously, if your primary goal is overclocking, you should consider a desktop system with a lot of airflow and a capable CPU cooler. Having said that, a power user looking for a slight performance tweak has the option to alter the Core 100HT-BD’s options.

The Advanced page offers the usual access to detailed CPU, chipset, ACPI, storage, and USB menus. A BIOS flash option is also available. Additionally, there is a setting to disable the extremely bright LED power and standby lights, something you will appreciate if the Core 100HD-BD is used in the bedroom.

The rest of the BIOS includes standard hardware monitoring, boot, and security selections that we won’t spend a lot of time on. Instead, we'll fire up one of the Core 100HT-BD’s niftier options: ASRock’s AIWI software.

The AIWI utility allows your PC to use an iPod Touch or iPhone as a game controller. We couldn't seem to get the iPod Touch to connect using the Core 100HT-BR as an ad-hoc network host, but it works fine when we used a wireless router to host both the iPod Touch and the Core 100HT-BD.

For the feature to work, the game needs to be supported by AIWI, and there aren’t a lot of games that feature this yet. We don’t have any of the higher-end compatible titles like Street Fighter IV on hand, so we tested the feature using some free-to-play Flash games. It works well enough--while it probably is not quite as responsive as the Wii-mote, the feature lives up to its promise as a fun value-add. Just don’t throw your Wii away until you try it.

Aside from the specifics, how does the ASRock Core 100HT-BD stand up as an HTPC? With the unit set to automatically launch Windows Media Center on startup, no keyboard is necessary--the included remote does all that you need for HTPC duty. Sometimes a mouse and virtual keyboard come in handy, but we have no qualms recommending the Core 100HT-BD for less tech-savvy folks, assuming it’s set up properly. The system does everything asked of it in a simple and speedy fashion and doesn’t leave the user waiting. But enough with the generalizations--let’s see how the Core 100HT-BD’s concrete benchmark results compare to those of a desktop Core i3 system.

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