The ASRock Vision 3D has proven to be a well balanced small form factor PC which will make an ideal partner for enthusiast users requiring an extremely powerful system. Many people are happy with an Atom powered HTPC, and others find them painfully slow – everyone has a different outlook on what they need (or want).
The Intel Core i3 370M is an exceptional processor with low power demands meaning it doesn’t run too hot, even with limited airflow. The ASRock heatpipe based cooling system is capable, even if it can get a little loud when pushed hard. We certainly weren’t expecting this processor to achieve 3ghz in such a confined space, but it ran happily 24/7 with a 600mhz overclock. Whether you would want to keep this level of overclock is going to be a very personal choice, as the fans tended to intrude more on the overall experience. If you have this system enclosed inside a cabinet in your living room, make sure there is plenty of airflow at the rear or things could get nasty.
If you often use a portable media player, then the Vision 3D is a fantastic source unit, as the USB ports are capable of charging devices with the same proficiency as a dedicated mains power socket. USB 3.0 connectivity offers a high level of future proofing for new media devices coming to market in 2011. With nVidia hardware acceleration, video conversion times were tested to improve by almost 100 percent, meaning you dont need to waste much time getting your films and tv shows ported across to the player.
The nVidia Geforce GT 425M proved to be a capable partner for the Intel Core i3, helping it to power through conversions and it handled many of the newest games, abeit sometimes with reduced IQ settings. Under load it did seem to get a little hot, but we wouldn’t forsee any long term issues. HDMI 1.4a support is also a strong selling point for discerning media users.
The Asrock HM55-MXM motherboard is a great design, with an all solid capacitor implementation evident for long term stability and a well researched layout covering all the possible bases: with eSATA, Wireless, USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 all on offer.
We really do feel that ASRock have this market covered, and every time we review one of their products we are left with a very positive feeling. They certainly appear to put a lot of time and effort into their designs and we are quite sure that this system will be a viable, future proofed media center for many years to come.
Pricing in the UK right now is £689.99 inc vat, but do remember you need to purchase an OS, monitor, mouse and keyboard to get the full system up and running.
KitGuru says: Extreme jaw dropping design from ASrock. Well worth checking out if you are in the market for a new, wickedly fast media system.