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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

Handbrake Media Encoding

Encoding DVD-format multimedia to use on portable devices such as a SmartPhone is becoming very popular. Using a 22-minute long television episode (the show isn't important, and I don't want to give away my poor taste in television programming), I've used Handbrake to encode the DVD into MP4 format. To remove the optical drive from impacting test performance, all of the VOB files were moved to the local drive (Vertex SSD). The output file was also saved to the same system drive.


TEST SUMMARY: Intel's N330 Atom processor, albeit dual-core in nature, fails to compete with the others in terms of encoding performance and takes nearly a half-hour to complete the job. Hyper-Threading seems to help the HP Pavilion DM3-1044NR notebook (1.3GHz Intel Pentium SU4100/4500M GMA HD), but 21 minutes is nothing to brag about. It's not until we get to the ASRock Core-100HT HTPC (2.13GHz i3-330M/GMA HD) that encode times are more acceptable, and the 2.4GHz i3-370M paired with the GeForce GT 425M helps gives the ASRock Vision 3D HTPC a slight advantage. Intel's quad-core 2.8GHz Core i7-930 desktop processor with GeForce GTX 580 doesn't exactly encode in snap, but it does the same job in half the time.

Blender Layer Rendering

Blender is a free open source multi-threaded 3D content creation suite, available for use on all major operating systems under the GNU General Public License. Our tests use Blender to a very limited degree of its full capability (see for more detail), but the image rendering function serves its purpose well. Using the icetest project, we allow the processor in each system to render the image layers. This might seem like a fairly simple task, as I did at first, but that was before I realized how long it takes each system to render.


TEST SUMMARY: Blender does an excellent job of illustrating the difference in rendering power between mobile and desktop CPUs. The ASRock Nettop ION 330 HTPC (1.6GHz Intel Atom N330/ION GT9400) rendered the icetest project in 57.0 seconds, which in improved to 32.6 seconds with the mobile Pentium processor in HP's Pavilion DM3-1044NR notebook (1.3GHz Intel Pentium SU4100/4500M GMA HD). ASRock's Core-100HT HTPC (2.13GHz i3-330M/GMA HD) manages to render in 17.4 seconds, which is improved to 15.3 seconds using the ASRock Vision 3D HTPC (2.4GHz i3-370M/GT425M). With all the muscle and might of Intel's quad-core 2.8GHz Core i7-930 desktop processor, the icetest project is rendered in 12.4 seconds and demonstrates how closely the others are catching up.



# 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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