ASRock Vision 3D 252B HTPC Review
Introduction and Specifications
When we first took a look at the ASRock Vision 3D 137B with NVIDIA 3DTV Play last year, we were quite impressed with the machine. It offered excellent all-around performance for a system in its class and had an extensive feature set that included Blu-Ray and 3D video playback capabilities, all wrapped up in what we considered to be an attractive enclosure. So, when ASRock came to us with an updated model outfitted with a newer CPU, GPU, and other components, we were eager to check it out.
Once it arrived we were pleased to see ASRock hadn’t messed around with the system’s aesthetics and after prepping it with an OS and various other apps, the system took residence in our home theater setup for some real-world testing. Since its arrival, the ASRock Vision 3D 252B HTPC we’ll be showing you here today has been our primary playback device for Blu-Ray discs—including 3D titles—, DVDs, a host of videos and movies stored on a multi-terabyte NAS array, and for streaming content from the web. And in all the time we’ve had it running, the ASRock Vision 3D 252B HTPC has done nothing but deliver. The component choices, connectivity options, and form factor all hit the “sweet spot” and the system hasn’t left us wanting for anything else in an HTPC. We’re going to show you the system up close and personal on the pages ahead, and will of course offer up a host of benchmark results, but we hope that last sentence resonates with you. As far as HTPC systems go, ASRock’s got the goods. The Vision 3D 252B does what most all tech devices should do—get out of the way and just work. Of course, we're geeks around here, so using a PC for all-things digital media comes second nature, but we digress.
Check out the full list of features and specifications below and then take a look at the rest of the rig on the pages ahead. We think you’ll like what you see...
|- Intel Core i5 2520M Mobile Sandy Bridge Processor
- Supports 2nd Generation Intel Core i7 / i5 / i3 Dual-Core Mobile Sandy Bridge Processor Family
|- 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.
|- Mobile Intel HM65 Express chipset
|- 8GB DDR3-1333MHz (2x4GB)
- Supports DDR3 1600*/1333/1066 MHz, 2 x SO-DIMM slots, Max. up to 16GB**
*DDR3 1600 is only supported with Intel Core i5 and above CPU.
**Due to the operating system limitation, the actual memory size may be less than 4GB for the reservation for system usage under Windows 32-bit OS. For Windows 64-bit OS with 64-bit CPU, there is no such limitation.
|- NVIDIA GeForce GT540M Graphics (with 1GB GDDR3 VRAM), Supports Blu-ray 3D playback, NVIDIA 3D Vision, 3DTV Play Capable
- Intel HD Graphics 3000, Supports Lucid Virtu Switchable Graphics
*Lucid Virtu only supports Windows 7 / Windows 7 64bit.
|- 750GB, 7200rpm, 2.5" SATA HDD
|- BD Combo
|- 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x MIC, 1 x Headphone, 4-in-1 Card reader (MMC/SD/MS/MS PRO)
|- 1 x HDMI 1.4a, 1 x DVI-I (Dual-Link), 4 x USB 2.0, 1 x S/PDIF, 1 x eSATA3, 2 x USB 3.0
*For eSATA function, Hot Plug function is supported in AHCI mode only. IDE mode does not support Hot Plug function.
|- Gigabit LAN
|- 7.1 CH HD Audio with THX TruStudio
|- 2T2R 802.11b/g/n
|- MCE Remote Controller
|- 90W/19V Adapter
|- 200mm(W) x 70mm(H) x 200mm(L)
Before we dive in and check out the system itself, here’s a look at what ASRock includes with the Vision 3D 252B HTPC's bundle. There are a number of accessories that come with the machine, including an IR MCE Remote Control, 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. The utilities and other software on the first CD include NVIDIA’s 3DTV Play, LucidLogix Virtu, trial versions of Cyberlink MediaEspresso 6.5 and DVD Suite and the MAGIX Multimedia Suite. Note, however, that an OS does not come installed on the system. While many free OSes work very well on the ASRock Vision 3D 252B HTPC, some of the features, like 3DTV Play for example, only work under Windows.