ASRock's High-End Vision 3D 252B HTPC Reviewby Ganesh T S on May 7, 2012 6:15 AM EST
- Posted in
- Home Theater
- Sandy Bridge
- GT 540M
The small form factor (SFF) HTPC market has been steadily growing over the last few years. As mobile processors become more and more powerful, it is becoming easier for users to be satisfied with their performance even in desktop configurations.
The DIY HTPC crowd has a marked preference for mini-ITX motherboards and cases. However, the excessive TDP of desktop CPUs results in complicated thermal designs and noisy results. Thermal designs for systems with mobile CPUs with 35W TDPs are fairly straightforward and not very noisy. In fact, it is even possible to create systems which are fully passively cooled.
ASRock has three HTPC families catering to the entry level, mid-range and high-end markets. While the ION based HTPCs form the entry level (and have since been discontinued), the Core series serves the mid-range and the Vision series caters to the high-end. Today, we will be looking in detail at the Vision 3D 252B, the second generation Vision 3D series HTPC from ASRock. First off, let us take a look at the configuration of the review unit sent to us by ASRock
|ASRock CoreHT 252B HTPC Specifications|
Intel Sandy Bridge Core i5-2520M
(2 x 3.00 GHz (3.20 GHz Turbo), 32nm, 3MB L2, 35W)
|Chipset||Intel Cougar Point HM65|
|Memory||2 x 4 GB DDR3-1333|
NVIDIA GT 540M (1 GB VRAM)
650 MHz / 1300 MHz / 900 MHz
Intel HD Graphics 3000
650 MHz / 1.3 GHz (Turbo)
750 GB 7200RPM 2.5" HDD
(Western Digital Scorpio Black WD7500BPKT)
|Optical Drive||Blu-ray/DVDRW Combo|
802.11b/g/n (2T2R Atheros AR9287 in AzureWave AW-NE121H mini-PCIE card)
Microphone and headphone/speaker jacks
Capable of 5.1/7.1 digital output with HD audio bitstreaming (optical SPDIF/HDMI)
MMC/SD/MS/MS Pro Card Reader
Slot loading Blu-ray/DVDRW optical drive
2 x USB 3.0 Ports
Headphone and mic jacks
|Right and Left Sides||-|
AC Adaptor input
Optical SPDIF and analog audio jacks
RJ-45 connector (1 x GbE LAN)
2 x USB 3.0 Ports
Vent for airflow
1 x DL-DVI-I
1 x eSATA
1 x HDMI 1.4a
4 x USB 2.0
|Operating System||Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit (Retail unit is barebones)|
THX TruStudio Audio Certification
IR receiver and MCE remote
|Dimensions||20 cm x 20 cm x 7 cm|
|Pricing||Approx. £ 830 / $1190|
ASRock has three configurations of the Vision 3D 2nd Gen series available. While the 252B comes with a 750 GB hard drive and 8 GB of RAM, the 245B and 241B come with a 500 GB hard drive and 4 GB of RAM. The 245B uses a Core i5-2450M procesor while the 241B uses a Core i5-2410M. Other specifications remain the same.
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Southernsharky - Monday, May 7, 2012 - linkAs other people have noted, you could just buy a laptop with almost all of these specs, except for the 750 gb HD for 1/2 this price. You could buy a quad core laptop and an external hard drive for less than $800. This product screams rip off.
blackbrrd - Monday, May 7, 2012 - linkYou can get 1tb laptop hdds for around 100$, so that's not really a problem
BPB - Monday, May 7, 2012 - linkMy issue would then be speed. You can get 1TB notebook drives cheaper these days, but the speed is 5200rpm and 5400rpm. I wonder how they would handle recording 3 HD shows?
blackbrrd - Monday, May 7, 2012 - linkA typical HD movie of 2 hours takes maybe 4gb which comes down to about 0.5mbyte/s. Writing three hd streams at a time (1.5mbyte/s) shouldn't be a problem. I haven't tried it though.
seanleeforever - Wednesday, May 9, 2012 - linkA typical HD movie of 2 hours takes maybe 4gb which comes down to about 0.5mbyte/s.
how about 3 times as much? at 4GB you are talking about DVD quality, which is no where near HD level.
lenkiatleong - Monday, May 7, 2012 - linkI am puzzle how you can bitstream HD audio via optical as quoted "..when playing back a 1080p24 Blu-ray movie from the optical drive with HD audio bistreaming.". Do you mean Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master?
Another question is, can the HDMI bitsream Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD master using PowerDVD 12 to your AV?
ganeshts - Monday, May 7, 2012 - linkYes, the HDMI can bitstream HD audio using PDVD 12. Of course, through optical SPDIF, only Dolby DIgital and DTS can be bistreamed. Note that when I mentioned optical drive, I meant the Blu-ray drive as opposed to something from the hard disk or an externally attached hard drive / over the network.
lenkiatleong - Tuesday, May 8, 2012 - linkThank you for the clarification. There is another thing which i have in doubt from day one. It would be good if you could enlighten us.
The question: Is there any difference if one uses HTPC like this AsRock (bluray ISO source or optical drive, PDVD12 and HDMI) to feed HD audio (Dolby TrueHD or DTS HD Master) and HD video to mid/high end AV as compare to using average bluray player in the market?
ganeshts - Wednesday, May 9, 2012 - linkIn most cases, no. The reason is that you are at the mercy of NVIDIA drivers for certain functionality, and if they get broken in a certain driver release, you might not get perfect output (scaling from 4:2:0 Blu-ray video to 4:2:2 / 4:4:4 needed by HDMI for transportation may be achieved by different algorithms in the case of hardware Blu-ray players / even the NVIDIA driver algorithm might not be perfect). Note that a hardware player itself is not guaranteed to do this properly either.
DerPuppy - Monday, May 7, 2012 - linkNot sure if I'm a little behind somewhere, but is there a simple/straightforward guide to configuring a media player like MPC-HC somewhere for one to peruse in the interest of properly configuring a media center? or would anandtech be interested in creating or maintaining one?