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ASRock Vision 3D Blu-ray Compact HTPC E-mail
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 137B Detailed Features

When you task your design engineers with building on a micro-sized scale, component placement must be handled with the utmost efficiency for the system to work. ASRock has done an excellent job finding a home for everything needed to bring the HM55-MXM platform to life on the mini-ITX form factor. All-solid capacitors prolong component lifetime and can endure harsh operating conditions, and the thick PCB is quality-made. Engineers designed the ASRock Vision 3D platform to be completely silent, emitting only 23 dBA under normal operation. As a result, the only fan on this system efficiently exhausts heated air out through a deflector vent at the rear of the chassis.

ASRock_Vision-3D_137B_Nettop_PC_Back_Angle.jpg

On the back panel ASRock outfitted the Vision 3D kit with native HDMI 1.4a audio/video output for uncompressed high-definition displays, along with Dual-Link DVI output for standard and 120Hz digital monitors. External storage devices can be attached by the 3.0 GB/s eSATA port, five Hi-Speed USB 2.0 ports, or single SuperSpeed USB 3.0 port. A digital optical audio TosLink output compliments the 5.1-channel analog audio outputs, and Gigabit Ethernet allow for network connectivity.

ASRock_Vision-3D_137B_Nettop_PC_Back.jpg

The ASRock HM55-MXM motherboard is directly designed for HTPC purposes. The component layout is completely different for this platform, which offers one spare SATA 3Gb/s port and a mini-PCI Express port (filled with an Atheros AR9287 wireless network adapter). These two features, along with the added eSATA port, Realtek RTL8168/8111 PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet adapter, and NEC uPD720200 SuperSpeed USB-3.0 controller all add up to reasons why the ASRock Vision 3D series could be the ideal all-in-one HTPC Media Center solution.

This particular ASRock Vision 3D (model 137B) features the 2.40 GHz dual-core Intel Core i3-370M mobile processor. The i3-370M includes 3MB (128KB L1 per core, 512KB L2 per core, and 3072KB shared L3) of Intel Smart Cache memory on a 32nm process, and includes Intel's 64-bit instruction set. The i3-370M maintains a 35-watt TDP, which operates separately from the 45nm Intel HD Graphics integrated 500 MHz Ironlake-M GPU. The CPU processor measures 81mm2 while the GPU measures 114mm2, and both are cooled by a low-profile heatsink and silent blower fan assembly. Unlike the ASRock Core 100HT series, the Vision 3D does not make use of Intel's integrated HD Graphics because of the installed discrete graphics card.

ASRock_Vision-3D_137B_Nettop_PC_Top.jpg

The NVIDIA GeForce GT 425M mobile graphics card plays a huge role in the ASRock Vision 3D platform, and could arguably be the centerpiece to this HTPC. Using NVIDIA's GF108M GPU, the GeForce GT 425M delivers 96 Unified Shaders over 8 pixel pipelines with one TMU per pipeline. The 560 MHz GPU (1120 Shader clock) supports DirectX 11 extensions and offers a 256MB GDDR3 video frame buffer at 800 MHz. Located on the motherboard's only PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot, the 40nm GF108M GPU occupies 114 mm2 and is cooled by a copper plate with a single attached heat-pipe rod.

Kingston-KVR1333D3S9-DDR3-Memory.jpg

The ASRock HM55-MXM motherboard supports only 1.5 volt DDR3 SoDIMM memory, so upgrades to 8GB (maximum allowed by motherboard and Intel i3 limitations) will need to maintain JEDEC standards. ASRock includes two ASint Technology SSZ3128M8-EDJ1D dual-channel 2GB DDR3-1333 (667MHz) SoDIMM modules, which offer the following latency timings:

  • 609 MHz: 8-8-8-22 (CL-RCD-RP-RAS) / 30-68-4-10-5-5 (RC-RFC-RRD-WR-WTR-RTP)
  • 533 MHz: 7-7-7-20 (CL-RCD-RP-RAS) / 27-59-4-8-4-4 (RC-RFC-RRD-WR-WTR-RTP)
  • 457 MHz: 6-6-6-17 (CL-RCD-RP-RAS) / 23-51-3-7-4-4 (RC-RFC-RRD-WR-WTR-RTP)

ASRock_Vision-3D_137B_BD-Optical-Drive.jpg

A steel drive tray assembly houses a slim-line internal SATA optical drive (DVD or Blu-ray), and 500GB Seagate Momentus 5400.6 SATA hard disk drive (unformatted). Regardless of HTPC or Nettop application, the high-capacity drive inside the ASRock Vision 3D system will easily handle the storage needs demanded of it. For power users who want more performance without sacrificing capacity, the Seagate Momentus-XT Solid State Hybrid Drive is an excellent alternative.

ASRock_Vision-3D_137B_Drive_Tray.jpg

The internal drive tray pulls out away from the enclosure once two retaining screws are removed, allowing for motherboard or drive access. The HM55-MXM motherboard has a third SATA and power connection add-on, should you need it, but the drive tray does not accommodate mounting. Luckily, there's just barely enough room beneath the tray for another 2.5" SATA notebook drive.



 

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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