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Reviews - Featured Reviews: Notebook | Compact PC
Written by Olin Coles   
Wednesday, 24 November 2010
Table of Contents: Page Index
ASRock Vision 3D Blu-ray Compact HTPC
Closer Look: ASRock Vision 3D
ASRock 137B Detailed Features
ASRock Vision 3D Features
Vision 3D 137B Specifications
Motherboard Testing Methodology
PCMark Vantage Test Results
AIDA64 CPU Benchmarks
Passmark PerformanceTest
Cinebench R11.5 Benchmarks
Media Encoding and Layer Rendering
Video Game Performance
ASRock HTPC Final Thoughts
ASRock Vision 3D 137B Conclusion

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.

ASRock_Vision-3D_137B_Nettop_PC_Splash.jpg

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.
Product Name: Vision 3D Series
Model Number: 137B (Blu-ray Disc)
Price As Tested: $979.99 at NewEgg

Full Disclosure: The product sample used in this article has been provided by ASRock.



 

Comments 

 
# AwesomeShane 2010-11-24 09:22
I'm almost (well, barely) regretting having built my own HTPC earlier this year. This is hands down more powerful, better featured and less obtrusive than the system I put together. Thanks for the awesome review.

Question, and I apologize if you mentioned this, but which display(s) did you use during testing? Regular monitors at the resolutions mentioned, or did you use an HDTV for the 1080/720p tests?
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# RE: AwesomeOlin Coles 2010-11-24 09:29
Hello Shane:

I feel your pain, and also suffer from buyer's remorse for the hardware I purchased for an already inferior HTPC. There was a mix of displays used, and the exact models and details are listed in the "Motherboard Testing Methodology" section.
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# woops!Shane 2010-11-24 09:33
Reading while working FTL. Obviously glossed over the supporting hardware list. Thanks!
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# doubtFábio Leal 2010-12-14 08:28
it´s possible use the dvi for video 3D (connected on 3D LED TV) and the HDMI for audio (connected on receiver)?
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# RE: doubtOlin Coles 2010-12-14 08:31
That depends on the capabilities of your equipment. Most receivers will stream both audio/video to the devices, but if you connect an 3D LED TV via DVI the HDMI video will be ignored (not connected). It should also work via HDMI, although you may use NVIDIA 3DTV Play.
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# RE: RE: doubtFábio Leal 2010-12-14 09:09
My doubt is because my receiver is not 3d (hdmi 1.3a only), but my TV is 3D. So, if I want watch my 3D films, the audio needs stay connected on receiver via HDMI (audio 7.1) and the movies 3D connected on TV 3D via DVI to HDMI. Is this possible? Could I watch my 3D movies that way?
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# RE: RE: RE: doubtOlin Coles 2010-12-14 09:10
The DVI stream will not pass through the receiver, so it will not matter. The audio will work with 1.3a, so that should not be a problem.
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# RE: RE: RE: RE: doubtFábio Leal 2010-12-14 09:14
but it's possible pass the video 3D signal to TV via DVI port on ASRock Vision?
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# RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: doubtOlin Coles 2010-12-14 09:16
That depends on the display. If your 3D LED TV is 120Hz or faster and also has DVI, then it should work.
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# RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: doubtFábio Leal 2010-12-14 09:29
Wow, you're fast! Thanks. I thought the 3D video signal was possible only through the HDMI input. So even though my TV has no DVI input, I could use a DVI-HDMI adaptor.
Thank you, so much.
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# RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: doubtOlin Coles 2010-12-14 09:36
If your TV does not have native DVI, then I don't think a DVI-to-HDMI adapter will work.
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# RE: ASRock Vision 3D Blu-ray Compact HTPCFábio Leal 2010-12-14 09:45
Why? I will use ASRock this way:
the HDMI output connected on Receiver (audio) and the DVI-I output connected on HDMI input on TV 3D, using DVI to HDMI adaptor (video 3D). What's the problem?
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# can I stream to Xoom directly without using wifi network?js 2011-06-11 11:44
I want to be able to take my xoom, my digital headphones and a small media station like this on road trips. Can I set this up to broadcast w/o an actual wifi network around and pick it up with my Xoom?
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