Unboxing Impression

The ASRock Vision HT 321B package contained the following:

  1. Main unit in a 2.5L chassis (195mm x 186mm x 70mm)
  2. 90W AC / DC adapter
  3. Media Center remote with batteries
  4. Support CD with drivers and miscellaneous software
  5. DVI- VGA dongle
  6. SATA and power cables / screws for user installation of second hard disk

Unlike the CoreHT 252B, the industrial design of the Vision HT traces its roots to the Vision 3D series. We have pleasing rounded edges, though the chassis doesn’t have a unibody construction. ASRock deserves credit for bringing the industrial design of the high-end units to the mid-range segment this time around.

When compared to the Core HT from last year, we find that the two USB 3.0 ports and the microphone / headphone jack in the front panel are retained. However, the power button changes from a circular version to a square with rounded edges. A SD card reader also makes an appearance. There are no ventilation slots in the front panel this time around.

Just like a notebook, this unit also supports simultaneous display on two monitors. Testing was done mostly with the HDMI output connected to a Sony KDL46EX720 1080p 3D TV through a Pioneer Elite VSX-32 AV receiver. For non-media playing related testing, the HDMI port was connected to an Acer H243H 1080p monitor. Our review unit shipped with Windows 7 x64 Ultimate and a OEM version of Cyberlink PowerDVD for Blu-ray playback. However, the OEM version doesn't support 3D Blu-rays and is also crippled with respect to the number of audio channels that can be decoded / HD audio passthrough. To test these, we installed the full versions of both Cyberlink PowerDVD 12 as well as ArcSoft Total Media Theater 5.

We will conclude this section with a table to summarize the data and A/V connectivity options for the ASRock Vision HT 321B HTPC.

A/V Connectivity Options for the ASRock Vision HT 321B
Option Status
   
HDMI Yes [v1.4a]
Component No
Composite No
VGA Yes
SPDIF Yes [Optical]
Stereo Yes
Data Connectivity Options for the ASRock Vision HT 321B
Option Status
   
Optical Disk Drive Yes [Blu-Ray / DVD-RW]
USB Yes [4 x v2.0, 4 x v3.0]
eSATA Yes [1 x v3]
LAN Yes [ 1000 Mbps GbE ]
Internal HDD Yes [ 500 GB ]
WiFi Yes [ 300 Mbps 2T2R 802.11n (Dual band)]
Bluetooth Yes (v 4.0)
Card Reader No

 

Introduction System Teardown and Analysis
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  • duploxxx - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    very easy just use a low end Liano based or trinity based platform.

    enough performance , power consumption controllable and low cost
    Reply
  • GotThumbs - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    If you haven't already, Take a look at Zotecs (Zotac ZBOX ZBOXNANO-AD12-U AMD A68M ) using the AMD E2-1800 APU 1.7GHz Dual-Core. $229.00 Bare-bone or 299. with 2 Gigs and 320 HD (5400).

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...

    Zotac has had these form factors out for around 2 years, so Intels NUC is nothing new and yet is still over priced IMO.

    Knowledge is power.

    It would be nice if Anandtech did an in-depth review/comparison of the NUC and Zotacs offerings.
    Reply
  • ssj3gohan - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    It's very simple: Intel forbids them to use anything but mobile platforms. And mobile=really expensive (even though it's the same silicon). There are perfectly fine desktop processors that will fit inside those enclosures, well within the thermal limits. Intel's newest i3-3225 only uses about 30W full blast in actual use, scratching 45W under the most demanding synthetic load. The rest of the desktop platform is already super-efficient and doesn't contribute particularly much. And even though it outperforms any mobile processor, it costs only $130 vs $370ish for the cheapest hd 4000-outfitted mobile processor.

    So it's perfectly easy to make a much cheaper, better performing SFF PC, but Intel forbids it. Because that's good for the world.
    Reply
  • nathanddrews - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    Just buy an Ivy Bridge notebook on Black Friday for $300. Plenty of power for HTPC --> 1080p everything. HD4000 can play some games. Close the lid, connect and HDMI cable and you're done. Reply
  • Aikouka - Monday, November 12, 2012 - link

    I considered purchasing this unit before, but I'm very picky about noise. It's not only noise when the unit is being used, but also how noisy is it when the room is quiet? I poked through this article, and unless I missed it, I don't see anything on noise characteristics for this unit.

    I ended up building a HTPC using the Streacom fan-less chassis instead of buying one of these. Let me tell you, if you want a build that's a bit of a PITA, go with that case. =P
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Monday, November 12, 2012 - link

    The thermal design / noise factor is covered in the final section. The solution is very similar to what we had in the previous generation HTPCs, and ASRock had tests with video proof to show less than 35 dB noise under full loading conditions.

    I have been keeping my eyes open for information / samples of Streacom's recently introduced FC10 chassis. We might see a piece on that if Streacom is able to get it into production anytime soon :)
    Reply
  • capeconsultant - Monday, November 12, 2012 - link

    A machine such as this should always include noise info. Not a reference to another machine's noise. It is a CRITICAL issue for a machine of this size whether used for HTPC or not. I will still be getting the mac mini. Keep trying. Reply
  • mikael.skytter - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    I bought the unit this August and I am also picky about noise.
    As far as I am concerned this unit is really good. I have disabled the Blue Ray player and installed an SSD instead of the HDD.

    The unit is completely silent unless you put your ear less then 10cm from it in a quiet room. My tv accually sounds more (Samsung Series 8 with fans).

    When playing standard MKV 1080p files over the network, the unit does not increase the fanspeed but instead stays quitet.

    I hope this help and I know it´s not numbers. But I am really picky about my units. It needs to be quiet and the Asrock does just that
    Reply
  • cjs150 - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    Ganeshts: for an HTPC review you must cover noise. You have to cover the noise in 3 situations, idle, full workload and (critically) playing a movie from the included Bluray player - if the machine is quiet but the bluray player noisy (vibration usually) then as an HTPC this would be an epic fail. This is one of my complaints about HTPC cases, they never include any vibration dampening for the optical drive

    I do not regard 35db as quiet, what it means is that in quiet sections of the movie I am hearing the computer which is not good enough.

    There are some odd design choices here, although some may be forced on ASRock due to motherboard limitations. MSata or an SSD would be better than mechanical disk. Personally I would prefer better quality memory and more of it.

    Then there is the issue of frame rates. This is not ASRock's fault but Intel's and is completely unforgiveable. I would really like you to get an interview with Intel and ask them to explain why, given that the frame rate standards has remained fixed for years, can they still not get it right.

    Finally I would really like to see a review by you using Windows 8 as the OS for an HTPC. I am trying it on my HTPC and hate it (when Linux gets blu ray playback I am switching) but would love a second opinion to confirm whether I am just old fashioned or not!
    Reply
  • Kevin G - Monday, November 12, 2012 - link

    I see a little bit of comparison at the end to the Mac Mini but it'd be nice to have it represented in the performance charts for full comparison. Then again with just updating the line up, there could have been a bit of a time crunch. Reply

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