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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 HTPC Final Thoughts

Computers are at a constant struggle with scaled performance, and the PC is ground zero for innovation. CPU's and GPU's have both become much smaller, while fitting many more transistors into them. The opposite is true for their total package size, as evidenced by the growing dimensions for heatsinks and printed circuit boards. These things directly relate to HTPCs, primarily because personal entertainment enthusiasts demand oversized performance inside of undersized enclosures. While CPUs have scaled accordingly, as has storage media with the SSD, it seems that GPUs are just now arriving at a point where compact size doesn't necessarily mean limited performance.

Intel and AMD each offer dual-core mobile processors, and they offer excellent performance with very low power consumption demands. Seagate offers a 500GB Solid State Hybrid Drive that outperforms some of the fastest desktop hard drives while remaining notebook-sized. SoDIMM-sized system memory has made 4GB RAM modules available to compact computers, breaking a barrier that has held notebook computers back for years. Even motherboards have shrunk to miniature proportions, such as the micro-ITX form factor seen with the ASRock HM55-MXM. The only remaining holdout has been the graphics processor, up until now.


Modern integrated graphics (such as Intel's GMA HD) are sufficiently powerful enough to display high definition video content at 1280x720p or 1920×1080p resolutions, but expectations change once 3D video games are added into the equation. It takes a more powerful mobile GPU to share the same gaming experience equal to desktop PCs or gaming consoles. The problem is power, as all mobile devices must adhere to a strict power consumption threshold. This is why development on new compact discrete mobile graphics solutions moves so slowly, and products like the GeForce GT 445M (and especially the yet to be mass-produced NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460M) only see implementation in platforms with a looser power envelope.

As we've just discussed in the previous section, the ASRock Vision 3D HTPC offers ample gaming performance thanks to the GeForce GT 425M video card. Perhaps they've read the writing on the wall? The desktop computing segment shrinks by the day, ever woefully losing market segment to compact computing devices like this one. It's not my place to tell someone how to run their business, but one would think that selling leaded fuel in the hydrogen age would be a losing proposition. Intel has conceded defeat to NVIDIA in the GPU industry, and has returned to doing what they've always done best. Perhaps it's time for AMD and NVIDIA to seriously focus themselves on the mobile graphics market, and place their development in this sector ahead of desktop graphics. Doing things incrementally better each time is not nearly as important as doing things that the industry needs.



# 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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