Desktop Systems Guide

ASRock Vision 3D (Core i3-370M, Blu-ray Combo) review

ASRock Vision 3D - the Ultimate HTPC?

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Overall rating 9/10
Design:
8.5
Features:
8.5
Performance:
9
Value:
8
THE GOOD
Excellent performance
Plays HD content including 3D Blu-ray like a champ
Packed with features
THE BAD
Lacks an internal TV tuner option
Expensive


Conclusion

It's Just the Beginning 

HTPC fans will be extremely pleased with ASRock's Vision 3D. While many will continue to assemble their own systems since that is part of the fun for these hobbyists, others who wish to get right into watching their HD and Blu-ray content immediately will welcome the Vision 3D. A respectable, competent configuration that's more than equal to an above average multimedia notebook, the silent operation, relatively low power consumption and its rather unique (at the moment) novelty of having NVIDIA 3D Vision support should garner it a niche following. And it can even play modern games at medium settings.

If you remember, we said at the start that this is just shy of being the perfect HTPC. The reason is simply because there's no option for an internal TV tuner. One could of course get an external USB solution (DVB-T versions for example), but besides using up another port, it also means additional cost. These USB tuners are also not as powerful as the internal ones that could come with both analogue and digital TV tuners. Traditional TV programming may be less important in today's TV landscape with the advent of internet streaming but it's still significant enough that one expects the complete HTPC to have such functionality built-in.

The other sticking point would be the cost. While we don't have a retail price locally, the various prices floating online from other tech sites are in the range of US$1000. That's about the price of some notebooks, without a screen and the portability. Mind you, that's not factoring the cost of the operating system.

While the ASRock Vision 3D is a relatively high-end HTPC, we believe that 2011 will herald more 'mini PCs' targeted at the general population. With both AMD and Intel releasing very decent integrated graphics solutions next year with their new processors, the trend will be towards smaller, more power efficient desktops. Be it for work or leisure, for surfing the net or watching your videos, these small form factor PCs are here to stay and if the Vision 3D is any indication, they are anything but weak.