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ASRock ION3D (152B with Bluray) Review featuring Cyberlink

Rating: 9.0.

Defining a ‘media PC’ is a difficult proposition, everyone has a different view on what makes a perfect HTPC computer. Some users will aim for high performance components in a large chassis while others will opt for the smallest possible physical footprint with virtual silence.

Today’s review of the ASRock ION3D computer falls firmly into the latter category as it features a low power Intel Atom D525 processor with nVidia graphics.

The ASRock ION3D will be a media ‘purists’ wet dream. It is only slightly larger than the diminutive Macintosh Mini but features a slimline Bluray drive. While I have a soft spot for Apple, their substandard Bluray support has certainly not helped them gain a substantial foothold in the demanding media PC sector.

ASrock sell other models in this range: The 152D, featuring a DVD Supermulti drive with an MCE Remote Controller and the 152DL with the DVD Supermulti Drive without Wifi and MCE Remote Controller. We were informed of a £399 inc vat price point but I don’t have pricing information at this stage for the cheaper 152D or 152DL.

ION 3D 152B
CPU – Intel® Atom™ D525 Dual core Processor
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® ICH8M chipset
Memory – 1x 2GB DDR2 800MHz
– Support DDR2 800MHz, 2 x SO-DIMM slots, Max. up to 8GB*

*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.
VGA – NVIDIA® GT218-ION Graphics
HDD – 320GB, 5400 rpm
– Support 2.5″ SATA HDD
ODD – BD Combo
Front I/O – 2 x USB 3.0
– 1 x MIC
– 1 x Head Phone
Rear I/O – 1 x HDMI
– 1 x DVI-I
– 6 x USB 2.0
– 1 x S/PDIF
– 1 x D-Sub
LAN – Gigabit LAN
Sound – 7.1 CH HD Audio with DTS
WiFi – 802.11b/g/n
Remote Controller – MCE Remote Controller
Power Unit – 65W/19V Adapter
Dimension – 195mm(W) x 70mm(H) x 186mm(L)
Volume (liters) – 2.5L

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  • Tim

    Damn, this is very nice indeed. price is good as the bluray drive adds a fair chunk to it.

  • Eric K

    Got to say, i love this system, I trust your views on the Atom Zardon, but the last one I played with was terrible, a few years ago. slow as molasses.

  • Tri Color

    I had heard the recent atoms were much better for this. seems to be a well built product from ASROCK. ive been reading favourable reviews on a few sites for their products lately.

  • Serpine

    Looks great, does it get dirty easy? looks like an ipod style finish, those take some maintanence.

  • Harry

    Excellent review KG. very detailed. USB 3 on the front is a nice extra. they covered all bases with this puppy.

  • Thomas Jun

    Wow that nvidia ion rocks. the encoding boost is awesome.

  • Garry

    I remember when ASrock first were on the scene, they got a terrible name for quality. they have certainly changed it around in the last year with some great mobos and this looks to be one of the best small form media pcs ive seen under 500.

  • Joe Soap

    When is it out ? dont see it listed on any stores ? id be curious to get this for my wife for the bedroom for the holidays as she downloads her tv shows and we end up downstairs at night when we are both tired.

  • Raymond Stevens

    How does it run with more powerful games like Crysis? id also be interested in WOW performance?

  • You might be able to get away with Crysis at very low settings at a low resolution, but it wouldn’t look too hot. I can look at it if you really want but its not an ideal system for performance gaming. WOW will run fine on it. if you can run Left4Dead at the settings we did, WOW will be good also.

  • Raymond Stevens

    WOW At 1080p be alright?

  • Tech Head

    Hey Zardon, how hot is the air coming out of the back of the system, warm or hot ? curious just.

  • Brad Delp

    Will they do a version with an OS installed for more with everything installed? im a n00b to this and I hate the thought of having to install an OS and mess it all up 🙁 they should also sell a luxury model with 80gb SSD and OS.

  • @ Raymond Stevens – yes 1080p no problem.

    @ Tech Head – warm, never hot, not in this room anyway.

    @ Brad Delp – only three versions right now as listed im afraid. Have you no friends to help? its really not difficult. You could take it to a local computer store and ask them to install the system and drivers/software and swap out the drive. will cost you however.

  • John

    IT should be marked down on price. £400 for this without an SSD or OS. ends up nearer £600 to get it the way you got it in the conclusion. 🙁

  • Tech Head

    You dont need to install an SSD, nor do you need to install an OS at £150. it will take a cheap home edition. Im sure most people have an OS at home, makes sense to let the user save the extra cost rather than pay more for a windows license they dont need.

    use your head man.

  • Sarah

    wow that asrock charger idea is awesome, how the hell does that work? also the graph says USB 2.0 takes 7 minutes+, does the app charger driver only work from the front usb 3.0 ports at the fast time?

  • @ Sarah – no, all the ports work with the faster charge time. I altered the graph to read USB 2.0 port (on other system). sorry for confusion.

  • Sarah

    Thanks for letting me know !

  • Flo

    Great looking media player this, looks very small, ideal for next to a TV in the living room.

  • Stupido

    Very very nice little box… 🙂 me like… 😀

    however, is there are such a machine with all this bells & whistles but based on i3?

  • http://www.asrock.com/nettop/overview.asp?Model=Vision%203D%20Series

    yes, but they cost quite a bit more…..

  • Frank

    Hi, I would like to see a review of the i3 one as well, its probably out of my price range, but the extra CPU horsepower might make it more usuable as a main system ?

  • Benjamin

    I think I will buy this when it is available here. I would like to see more in this range also as I love this design from ASrock. I never thought of them before but ive seen some great reviews here for their products and they look to be very well designed.

  • Stupido

    Zradon, thanks for the reply 🙂 (I could have done it myself I guess)
    +1 on the proposal of Frank

    I read some time ago (if i remember correctly on Tom’s Hardware) where they benched atom against i3 and in the end i3 was much better power wise. In the sense that when CPU is pushed with certain task, i3 finishes much quicker than Atom and total power consumed for the task is actually lower on i3 than on Atom, while from a power consumption point, i3 is much more hungry than Atom…
    This point of view also adds to the Frank’s comment of this little baby being a main computer for most of the people… including some of the HTPC users 🙂

    I have never worked with Atom based computers, so it is bit difficult to “get a feeling”…
    Would it be good enough for just browsing the net and occasional youtube and alike?

  • This Atom processor is much more responsive than the previous models I used in the past. It still is no powerhouse, but they aren’t sold for rendering or design work, so people need to think accordingly beforehand.

    That said, the biggest issue I had was the hard drive, which I found slowed the whole system down a little, its not a problem just isolated with this product. I notice it now with many laptops. adding a low cost SSD can really transform these systems and when I added the Intel drive it felt like a very capable little media product.

    Surfing youtube, watching 1080p movies, checking email, and even office work is fine. Even casual gaming at modest settings is possible as I think the review showed.

    its all very much down to personal taste, perhaps if people are unsure they can play with an ATOM powered system in a local store, but make sure the system you use is one of the newer models. the single core atoms of yesteryear are painful.

  • Stupido

    Zardon, 10x (thanks) a lot! I really appreciate your answer 🙂

    I was wondering if it is worth to go with Atom based machine because I will have to find a suitable replacement of my girlfriend’s old (and f%$#@ sh#@%) laptop… 😉
    and she is one of those persons that mainly uses browser, email client and from time to time Office… I’m try to convince her to go with machine like this instead of laptop, because I can re-use it as media playback and home storage machine… 😉 (that how little she uses her PC)

  • If you can, get a little SSD for her, it makes much more of a difference than anything else in those systems. the new atoms sound ideal for what she needs, but if she complains then you know the SSD route will work wonders!

  • Jimbo

    Excellant review Zardon, I can’t agree more on using an SSD. I’m building a similar nettop based on the D525, minus the BD. I’m hoping to use Ubuntu LInux for the OS, do you know of any issues with doing that?

  • Clean Master

    Received my ION 3D last week. I’m very impressed with the video capabilities. I’m able to stream 3D Bluray from my NAS to my 3D TV!

    I’m having some driver issues. Do you also experienced the Nuvoton CIR BSOD? See http://forums.tweaktown.com/asrock/42252-ion-3d-152d-nuvoton-cir-bsod.html

  • NO, I never saw that problem. are you using the latest system bios ?

  • Clean Master

    Bios 1.10 was loaded when I received it.
    1.10 is the only bios currently available.

    Maybe my box has an hardware issue?

  • nfuse

    Same problem here i also have a bsod with nuvoton-cir on the ion 3d (152d) i try’d windows 7 x86 and 64bit version both have the same isue so there is definitly someting wrong with the driver. anyone spotted a newer release already? i got version 20091016 from there website but this doesn’t fix the problem strange thing is that i have also the vision 3d (137d) with same driver and that one doesn’t have any problems with cir at all.

  • Finetune

    Excellent review – thank you – persuaded me into buying one of these fine machines. Trouble is, after a fresh install of Win 7 Ultimate 64bit, it’s taking 17mins to boot – gets stuck with no HDD activity, but then runs fine. I’ve tried reinstalling Windows, tried safe boot, run boot log, and disabled all unnecessary service at boot but nothing helps. I’m suspecting a driver issue or hardware fault. Anyone else experienced this problem?

  • Daniel

    I’m experiencing the same problem. Did you find a solution?

  • Sam

    Was advised by ASRock to use the 32bit not the 64bit version for best results

  • Pete


    Any of you guy that are able to confirm whether this version is able to playback 1080p rips with no problems??