|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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Closer Look: ASRock Vision 3D
Despite its miniature size, the ASRock Vision 3D HTPC system actually contains more processing power than the majority of desktop computer systems currently in existence. Measuring 7.87"(W) x 2.76"(H) x 7.87"(L), the aluminum mini-ITX chassis is available in either black or silver with a plastic cover made to a gloss finish. In this review, we test model 137B that comes with a BD/DVD multi drive, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi adapter, and Media Center Edition remote control. The 137D model removes Blu-ray disc functionality and replaces it with DVD. ASRock offers a total of six different Vision 3D models, which come in Blu-ray or DVD with three different processor options.
All six models utilize the same mini-ITX enclosure in black or silver finish, and receive either the Intel Core i3-370M CPU (Vision 3D 137B/137D), Core i5-460M (Vision 3D 146B/146D), or Core i5-560M (Vision 3D 156B/156D). Our Core i3-370M HTPC packs an incredible amount of hardware inside a tiny 8-inch square enclosure. One look at our full hardware component report will reveal a much bigger picture, and help fill in the details for our closer look section.
The front panel on the ASRock Vision 3D HTPC offers a slim Blu-ray or DVD optical drive with slot-in disc opening, two SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports, audio input/output jacks, and a 4-in-1 card reader with support for SD, MMC, MS, and MS Pro. The aluminum chassis is finished with a fine grain texture that hides fingerprints and will not show light scratches. This is a swift departure from previous designs that featured glossy surfaces on every panel. Clearly ASRock has learned from experience, and the Vision 3D series is better for it.
ASRock markets the Vision 3D series as a self-contained HTPC system; just add Operating System. ASRock has used its experience with previous HTPC designs to assemble the most complete all-in-one kit possible with the series. Users are still given the freedom to choose and install the Operating System that best fits their needs, whether that OS is Windows or Linux, which helps cut down on production costs. Those willing to take risks might even consider building the Vision 3D system into a Hackintosh HTPC by using the Apple Mac OS, although 3D support for this platform is very limited.
One particular perk included with the ASRock Vision 3D kit is a included Windows Media Center remote control, which transmits to the integrated Microsoft eHome Infrared Transceiver on the HM55-MXM motherboard. The remote is full-function, and supports all MCE extensions. While some users may consider a separate remote unnecessary, since most HTPC users will undoubtedly utilize a Media Center specific keyboard such as the nMedia HTPCKB, it helps transition the PC into a fully-integrated home theater component.
In the next section, Benchmark Reviews will detail some of the more advanced features hidden inside this Intel Core-i3 HTPC platform...