Asrock's Mini PC line has expanded with the recent introduction of the Vision 3D HTPC, by far their most ambitious model yet. We've been following Asrock's HTPC range for some time, testing several models including the well regarded Ion 330HT-BD about a year ago. As you might recall, this neat little box featured full 1080p video playback courtesy of a dual-core Atom and Nvidia Ion GPU.
Pricing for that system was very reasonable, with the base unit set at $350. A more upscale version could be had for $440 that added a MCE remote controller and WiFi 802.11n. Meanwhile, the most complete package included a Blu-ray drive for $580, a bit on the steep side for a nettop but not to an extreme given the features on offer. The Ion 330HT's hardware specs mirrored those of a powerful netbook and while the box performed up to expectations, it was considered to be light on horsepower by some. On the next evolution of the Mini PC, Asrock dropped the netbook guts in favor of more capable notebook hardware.
By utilizing a motherboard with the mobile Intel HM55 chipset, the Asrock Core 100HT series could be equipped with any Intel Core i3/i5/i7 (Arrandale) mobile processor, which opened the bite-sized computer to more usage scenarios.
The Core 100HT's Core i3 330M is a powerhouse when put besides the Ion 330's Atom processor, while on the graphics front the Intel GMA HD integrated chip is a less desirable choice, or at least it doesn't present a significant bump over what the previous flagship Asrock Mini PC offered.
Asrock went back to the drawing board and came up with the Vision 3D series. This HTPC goes beyond what we've seen in the past packing both a powerful Intel mobile processor and a mobile Nvidia GeForce graphics part. Basic specs also include 4GB of DDR3 memory, a Blu-ray drive, 7.1 audio output, a pair of USB 3.0 ports, Wi-Fi n, a 500GB hard drive and gigabit LAN.
The Vision 3D HTPC features the GeForce GT425M GPU which brings support for 3D Vision (stereoscopic gaming using shutter glasses) and 3DTV Play, letting you connect your HTPC to 3D HDTVs and play 3D Blu-ray movies and gaming content.