Although Home Theater PCs have been around for quite some time, they are still somewhat tough to define. For some, the term HTPC conjures up images of an ultra small form factor, low-power system that will be used for nothing more than accessing multimedia files. But for others an HTPC is more akin to a hardcore piece of A/V and entertainment equipment that can do it all—play back virtually any file type, browse the web, play games at 1080p resolutions—you name it.
The muddled state of the HTPC market is compounded further by OEMs and DIYers as well. Pre-Built home theater PCs are as varied as can be; compare the diminutive and affordable Zotac ZBox AD03 to something like an extravagant Okoro OMS-GX3000 and you’ll see what we mean. Similarly, do a quick search for HTPC in our pricing engine over there in the right margin and you’ll find a dizzying array of case options available. For the uninitiated, choosing the right HTPC setup can be daunting to say the least.
There may not be a "one size fits all" HTPC. However, there are some HTPC features that are universally (well, almost universally) desired. For one, it’s our opinion that an HTPC should be as quiet as possible. It should also be capable of any multimedia related task, it should be easy to install and use, and it should look like it belongs in its environment. Even with those guidelines in mind, an HTPC can be many things. However, it looks like ASRock, has struck a great balance between performance, form factor, and features with one of their HTPC lines and have come up with a solution that will likely please a wide swathe of potential HTPC consumers.
The ASRock Vision 3D HTPC, with NVIDIA 3DTV Play technology, is an attractive home theater PC on many levels. We show you why and how in the video below and will step through many of its features and performance on the pages ahead.
|CPU||Intel Core i3-370M Mobile Processor
Support Intel Core i7 / i5 / i3 Mobile Processor Family
|OS||Microsoft Windows 7 / 7 64-bit / Vista / Vista 64-bit / XP / XP 64-bit compliant
*Due to VGA driver limitation, 3D function only supports Windows 7 / 7 64-bit / Vista / Vista 64-bit.
|Chipset||Mobile Intel HM55 Express chipset|
|Memory||2 x 2GB DDR3 1066MHz
Support DDR3 1066MHz, 2 x SO-DIMM slots, Max. up to 8GB*
|VGA||NVIDIA GeForce GT425M Graphics, NVIDIA 3D Vision, 3DTV Play Capable|
|HDD||500GB, 7200 rpm
Support 2.5" SATA HDD
|Front I/O||2 x USB 3.0
1 x MIC
1 x Head Phone
4-in-1 Card reader (MMC/SD/MS/MS PRO)
|Rear I/O||1 x HDMI
1 x DVI-I (Dual-Link)
5 x USB 2.0
1 x S/PDIF
1 x eSATAII
1 x USB 3.0
|Sound||7.1 CH HD Audio with THX TruStudio Pro|
|WiFi||2T2R WiFi 802.11b/g/n|
|Remote Controller||MCE Remote Controller|
|Power Unit||90W/19V Adapter|
|Dimension||200mm(W) x 70mm(H) x 200mm(L)|
|Software||NVIDIA 3D TV Play software and CyberLink PowerDVD 10 OEM BD 3D|
The ASRock Vision 3D HTPC offers a host of connectivity options on its front and rear. The front of the machine houses headphone and microphone jacks, two USB 3.0 ports, an optical drive, flash card reader, a drive activity indicator and a lighted power button. On the back of the machine, users will find an HDMI output, a DVI output, an eSATA port, six more USB ports (5 x 2.0, 1 x 3.0), various audio inputs and outputs, an RJ45 LAN jack, a Kensington lock port, and a power port. About the only thing “missing” here is a Firewire port, but with USB 3.0 and eSATA available, that’s not much of a concern to us.
There are a number of accessories included with the ASRock HTPC. Along with the PC itself, ASRock throws in an IR MCE Remote Control, basic 3D glasses, a VGA to DVI adapter, a 19v power brick, user’s and quick installation guides, and a couple of CDs. One CD contains all of the drivers and utilities necessary to properly set up the machine and the other is a copy of Cyberlink PowerDVD 10.