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


Performance and Benchmarking

Benchmark Comparisons

In terms of the user experience, the ASRock Vision 3D was very quiet during testing, with the Blu-ray drive the main culprit on occasions when it drew our attention. While we could feel the heat emitting from the rear and the sides can get a bit warm, we felt that it was more than tolerable.

As usual, getting the appropriate comparison for pre-configured products like desktops and notebooks is a tricky task. More so when the ASRock Vision 3D probably has practically no peers in the high-end HTPC segment. Hence, we included the more budget friendly and widely available Dell Zino HD, which fulfills a similar entertainment HTPC role and to assess its general capabilities, we threw in a multimedia notebook from ASUS, the NX90Jq.

All three systems were tested on Windows 7 64-bit on various benchmarks like PCMark Vantage and Far Cry 2. The ASRock Vision 3D came with beta 260.66 ForceWare drivers that are slightly older than the just released 260.89 WHQL but we believe the performance shouldn't differ too much.

Comparing the ASRock Vision 3D
Specifications/Models
ASRock Vision 3D Dell Zino HD ASUS NX90Jq
Processor Core i3-370M (2.4GHz with 3M L2 cache) AMD Athlon Neo X2 6850e (1.8GHz with 1MB L2 cache) Intel Core i7-720QM
(1.60GHz, quad-core with 6MB L2 cache)
Chipset Intel HM55 AMD M780G Intel HM55
Memory 4GB DDR3 4GB DDR2 4GB DDR3
HDD 500GB SATA 7200RPM 500GB SATA 7200RPM 2 x 640GB SATA 7200RPM
Video NVIDIA GeForce GT 425M ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3200 NVIDIA GeForce GT 335M

 

Benchmark Results

Thanks to a better performing hard drive, the ASRock edged out the Core i7 powered ASUS NX90Jq in PCMark Vantage. The two systems were evenly matched for most of this benchmark with the decisive blow coming in the HDD segment. The AMD powered Dell Zino HD was predictably off the pace with its older, integrated graphics. 3DMark06 saw the ASUS getting the better of the Vision 3D but the results were very close and Far Cry 2 confirmed that the two had similar graphical performance.

 

Now About the 3D

Next, we tested the 3D Blu-ray support present. We were fortunate to have NVIDIA's 3D Vision kit with us and a suitable LG 3D Vision capable monitor to test. Using a similar test scenario that we outlined in our preview of 3D Blu-ray, we found the 3D playback of Monsters vs Aliens to be smooth and trouble-free. Setting up the 3D Vision was a matter of installing the proper drivers and software like the bundled CyberLink PowerDVD 10. Check out the low CPU utilization rates in the chart below.

With the recently released 260 drivers, NVIDIA brings 3DTV Play to its supported 3D Vision products. This means that 3D Blu-ray will work with any current 3D TV as long as the TV is HDMI 1.4 compliant. You can even use the 3D TV's own active shutter glasses instead of NVIDIA's solution. 3D games and 3D photos are also supported on the ASRock Vision 3D with these drivers.