Asrock's line of mini-PCs has expanded with the recent introduction of the Vision 3D HTPC, by far the most ambitious model to date. We've been following Asrock's HTPC line for a while, testing several models about a year ago, including the highly regarded Ion 330HT-BD. As you may recall, this neat little box featured full 1080p video playback courtesy of a dual-core Atom and Nvidia Ion GPU.
The pricing for this system was very reasonable at $ 350. An upscale version with an MCE remote control and WiFi 802.11n could be offered for $ 440. The most comprehensive package included a $ 580 Blu-ray drive, a bit steep for a nettop, but not extreme given the features on offer. The Ion 330HT's hardware specifications mirrored those of a high-performance netbook, and while the box lived up to expectations, some considered it underperforming. During the next development of the mini PC, Asrock dropped the courage of the netbook in favor of more powerful notebook hardware.
By using a motherboard with the mobile Intel HM55 chipset, the Asrock Core 100HT series could be equipped with any mobile Intel Core i3 / i5 / i7 processor (Arrandale), which opened up the bite-sized computer for further usage scenarios.
The Core i3 330M of the Core 100HT is a powerhouse next to the Atom processor of the Ion 330, while the integrated Intel GMA HD chip on the graphics side is less desirable or at least does not represent a significant disadvantage compared to the previous flagship Asrock Mini PC offered.
Asrock returned to the drawing board and developed the Vision 3D series. This HTPC goes beyond what we've seen in the past and includes both a powerful Intel mobile processor and Nvidia GeForce mobile graphics section. The basic specifications also include 4 GB DDR3 memory, a Blu-ray drive, 7.1 audio output, two USB 3.0 ports, WLAN, a 500 GB hard drive and a gigabit LAN.
The Vision 3D HTPC has the GeForce GT425M GPU, which supports 3D Vision (stereoscopic gaming with shutter glasses) and 3DTV Play. So you can connect your HTPC to 3D HDTVs and play 3D Blu-ray movies and game content.