|ASRock Vision 3D Blu-ray Compact HTPC|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Notebook | Compact PC|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Wednesday, 24 November 2010|
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ASRock Vision 3D 137B Blu-ray Disc HTPC
Benchmark Reviews has tested several products designed for the Home Theater PC segment, from fancy HTPC enclosures to efficient compact computer systems. Of them all, only ASRock has ever really delivered on the packaged HTPC concept, and they inch closer towards desktop performance levels every time. In previous articles we've tested the ASRock ION 330 and Core-100HT HTPC's, and while both small form factor computer systems provided decent results, neither could be considered a rival to desktop graphics performance. Sure, they could play movies at 1080p, but that's an expected feature by today's standard.
Armed with NVIDIA's GeForce GT 425M PCIe graphics card, this HTPC can support NVIDIA PhysX, NVIDIA 3D Vision, and NVIDIA Optimus technologies for the first time. The ASRock Vision 3D HTPC updates video output from HDMI 1.3 to HDMI 1.4a and replaces the analog VGA connection with a digital dual-link DVI output. This allows the ASRock Vision 3D to play back 3D Blu-ray Disc movies, or play video games using NVIDIA's 3D Vision technology. The list of 3D applications is growing, evidenced by our 3D Resource Guide. The ASRock HM55-MXM motherboard is a mini-ITX mobile Intel HM55-Express DDR3 platform full of desktop-level potential.
The Vision 3D system offers powerful NVIDIA DirectX-11 graphics, dual-core Intel Core-i3 processing, slim Blu-ray Disc optical drive, THX audio output, and even includes SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports on the front and rear of the unit. With HDMI 1.4a support, the ASRock Vision 3D also supports Bitstream audio pass through (Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master audio) 7.1 channel surround sound with THX TruStudio PRO, making this the ideal Home Theater PC solution. The ASRock Vision 3D Blu-ray HTPC could be the first solid example of a compact Home Theater PC that finally poses a threat to desktop computers. I've gone on and on about the Death of the Desktop PC Platform in our editorials section, but perhaps a system like the ASRock Vision 3D HTPC will be what finally replaces the platform.
Despite of the high-tech features mentioned above, ASRock's Vision 3D also offers elegant looks to match modern home decor. Encased in aluminum and available in black and silver color with sleek high-gloss contours, the ASRock Vision 3D delivers big inside a compact 2.8 liter enclosure. With an understanding that noise is unacceptable, ASRock designed the Vision 3D HTPC to operate at whisper-quiet levels, creating only 23 dBA under normal operation. In terms of power consumption, the ASRock Vision 3D HTPC uses a 90W power adapter similar to most modern notebook computers. This translates into lower utility costs for electricity, and cost savings over desktop solutions.
For many years I've searched for the perfect home theater PC, and every time the 'perfect' combination was within reach a critical drawback would snatch it away. My criteria wasn't very strict, but a man's home theater is a trophy onto itself. The ideal HTPC needed to allow wireless Internet access, comfortable web browsing, fast file transfers, properly display multimedia content over native uncompressed HDMI, and also play PC video games. Not a very tall order, but still no short order by anybody's measure. So while past HTPC projects have come close, the size and functionality have continued to create limitations. ASRock combines the mobile 'Arrandale' Intel Core-i3 370M 2.40 GHz processor and H55 platform to NVIDIA's GeForce GT 425M video card to create a system that appears to meet my requirements for the ideal HTPC on paper. Testing will prove if this idea rewards their design.
Manufacturer: ASRock, Inc.
Full Disclosure: The product sample used in this article has been provided by ASRock.