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  • jabber - Monday, May 07, 2012 - link

    I bought about a dozen of the first generation Atom boxes and they are all still trucking and the customers still love them.

    I still want one for myself.
    Reply
  • TerdFerguson - Monday, May 07, 2012 - link

    For what they were meant for, the little ION machines were flipping fantastic. With a package price of below $200 for everything but the OS, it's a value proposition that hasn't been matched by anything since. Reply
  • duploxxx - Monday, May 07, 2012 - link

    yes there are but not all OEM have the guts to do it right and just stuff garbage onto consumers. If they love it means they have never used anything else...
    http://www.anandtech.com/show/4442/zotac-zbox-braz...
    Reply
  • BPB - Monday, May 07, 2012 - link

    Am I the only guy who goes to the bottom of the specs sheet first and looks fir price? This thing is way too much for an HTPC. Reply
  • duploxxx - Monday, May 07, 2012 - link

    what would you expect if you see following specs...

    Intel Sandy Bridge Core i5-2520M
    (2 x 3.00 GHz (3.20 GHz Turbo), 32nm, 3MB L2, 35W)

    Graphics NVIDIA GT 540M (1 GB VRAM)

    1 reason why you would need these 2 parts into a HTPC, can be replaced by 1 APU which cost less and consumes less in total, end of story.
    Reply
  • BPB - Monday, May 07, 2012 - link

    I am not saying it isn't worth it. I am saying I see HTPC in the review title, look at the price, and think it's not worth reading the article. Simply can't see spending that on an HTPC, that's all. It is not a knock on the product. I'd be very happy owning this. Reply
  • cknobman - Monday, May 07, 2012 - link

    Agreed.

    Over $1000 for a HTPC and then with these specs to boot?

    Im not saying the specs are bad but they are certainly not worth of over $1000.
    Reply
  • mbzastava - Monday, May 07, 2012 - link

    I recall reading a nice comment from the Intel NUC article which points out how this new form factor is just repackaged laptop parts whith a nice new profit margin. I couldn't agree with him more.

    The question you should be asking is: Why does this unit cost around $1000 when you could get a similarly specced laptop for almost $300 less?
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Monday, May 07, 2012 - link

    Economy of scale - How many such HTPCs are going to be purchased vs. how many laptops the vendor would sell. Reply
  • blackbrrd - Monday, May 07, 2012 - link

    I just use a laptop as a HTPC. You can get a decent laptop for waaay less than this costs, and you can use it as a laptop if you need one. Reply
  • BPB - Monday, May 07, 2012 - link

    I am planing on doing the same thing. Been trying it out with my notebook and like the way it's working with my HDHomerun Prime, so it looks like I'm losing a notebook but gaining an HTPC that's going to use little power and can be unplugged and still used as a laptop when needed. Now I have to get an good size external HDD and I am set. The nice thing is when the notebook is in use as a notebook I can use my desktop PC and Xbox combination to record/watch TV. Reply
  • IntoxicatedPuma - Tuesday, May 08, 2012 - link

    Yeah you could easily by an Asus U36 series for around $600-$650 with similar performance. I don't know that I agree with the article about desktop CPU's being noisy and hot. For half the price of that machine, you could build an H61 machine with a 2100T, same hard drive, and equivalent video card that was about the same size and used about the same amount of power, and wouldn't run any hotter or be any noticeably louder. Reply
  • yottabit - Monday, May 07, 2012 - link

    Regarding the line:
    "We are a little worried about the full loading power consumption being more than what the power supply is rated for"

    I'm not sure this is true since you are comparing apples to oranges. Power supplies are typically rated for DC OUTPUT but you are comparing the rated DC output to the draw at the wall. Assuming the PSU is 80% efficient, then a 90W rating should equal approximately 90W/0.8= 112.5 W at the wall. Just a food for thought, I see this error commonly.
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Monday, May 07, 2012 - link

    Thanks for the pointer. The power consumption of > 109 W is still more than that of the first generation Vision 3D which was 82 W. This still makes us worried. I am trying to determine the power efficiency of the PSU (Delta Electronics ADP-90CD DB). Reply
  • Angengkiat - Monday, May 07, 2012 - link

    Hi Ganesh,
    Any idea what software to use if we want to play 3D nicely on the machine, cos I am using TMT5 but it does not seem to be able to display the same 3D effects compared to a dedicated bluray player?

    Thanks!
    EK
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Monday, May 07, 2012 - link

    That is a bit surprising. TMT 5 has full 3D Blu-ray support. Maybe the 3D Blu-ray player is assuming some settings which have to be configured in TMT 5 (like the depth of view). Also, did you run the NVIDIA 3D display setup? Reply
  • MichaelD - Monday, May 07, 2012 - link

    $1.2K. REALLY? That's just nuts. Nice piece of hardware, but not worth what they're asking for it. Plus at this pricepoint there had better be an SSD in there. At least a 64GB for the OS and programs. There's enough room in the chassis for a second 2.5" drive. They should've done a 2-drive, SSD/HD combo at this price. Reply
  • ganeshts - Monday, May 07, 2012 - link

    Agreed :) I have recommended the same to ASRock. Reply
  • tctc - Monday, May 07, 2012 - link

    Hi - couple of questions about the twin GPU configuration

    1. What determines which GPU is used by a particular application?
    2. Can the iGPU be disabled so that only the NVIDIA 540 is used?

    Regards,
    tctc
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Monday, May 07, 2012 - link

    Yes, this is handled by Virtu. If you don't install Virtu, the 540M is the only one that is used. You need Virtu to choose applications for which the iGPU gets used (commonly MediaConverter / any app for which you want to use QuickSync) Reply
  • Southernsharky - Monday, May 07, 2012 - link

    As 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. Reply
  • blackbrrd - Monday, May 07, 2012 - link

    You can get 1tb laptop hdds for around 100$, so that's not really a problem Reply
  • BPB - Monday, May 07, 2012 - link

    My 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? Reply
  • blackbrrd - Monday, May 07, 2012 - link

    A 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. Reply
  • seanleeforever - Wednesday, May 09, 2012 - link

    A 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.
    Reply
  • lenkiatleong - Monday, May 07, 2012 - link

    I 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?
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Monday, May 07, 2012 - link

    Yes, 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. Reply
  • lenkiatleong - Tuesday, May 08, 2012 - link

    Thank 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?
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Wednesday, May 09, 2012 - link

    In 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. Reply
  • DerPuppy - Monday, May 07, 2012 - link

    Not 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? Reply
  • ganeshts - Monday, May 07, 2012 - link

    I agree that the necessary information is spread out over multiple sites / reviews. We will work towards maintaining a database for easy access to all the information from a central point. Reply
  • ggathagan - Monday, May 07, 2012 - link

    There's already an extensive guide:
    http://imouto.my/watching-h264-videos-using-dxva/
    http://imouto.my/watching-h264-videos-using-dxva-c...

    An alternative to MPC-HC is a Korean product called Pot player:

    http://imouto.my/configuring-potplayer-for-gpu-acc...

    I've used both players with a GTS 450, an AMD 6950 and an AMD 5670 without issue after following the guides.
    Reply
  • aliasfox - Monday, May 07, 2012 - link

    First off, I skimmed the article, so forgive me if this is really obvious. Second, I have an admitted Mac bias, so that's where this is coming from. So here goes:

    With the exception of the Blu-Ray drive and USB3, is there really much that makes this worth so much more than a Mac Mini? I'm thinking the $799, i7, Radeon 6670m equipped model.

    $100 to load Windows onto it (if that's your flavor), and $200 should get you a blu-ray player - that leaves that set up $100 cheaper than the ASRock...

    The Mac mini does dual display, has HDMI out, and has an optical audio output as well. Admittedly, the SD Card reader on the back is less easy to get to than a reader on the front, and the base HDD is smaller (500 GB).

    Different strokes for different folks?
    Reply
  • lenkiatleong - Tuesday, May 08, 2012 - link

    But Mac mini does not bitstream HD audio to AV as far as i know. And this is the most critical point in my opinion for HTPC. Reply
  • philipma1957 - Monday, May 07, 2012 - link

    1.2k for 1.2 k I can have a 2500k cpu a crucial 256gb ssd a 2tb hdd a blu ray from asus 8gb ram a mobo from asus the catch is I need a 14 by 14 by 7 inch case.

    Any real hi end ht has amps, larger speakers ,large tv. Some subs not one sub.

    A gear rack and hiding a case the size of 14 by 14 by 7 on a gear rack is easy.

    This is for a design freak with tiny little bose speakers and a wall mount led flat screen.

    while that ht is costly ie hi end it makes poor quality sound.
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Monday, May 07, 2012 - link

    This is a HTPC for the high end home theater. Nothing prevents you from routing the HDMI output from the Vision 3D 252B to an amp / pre-amps and use that to drive the large speakers. Reply
  • aliasfox - Monday, May 07, 2012 - link

    Or potentially it's for people who are limited on storage rack space. My five level rack currently houses my blu-ray player, receiver, and dedicated stereo amp, as well as my cable modem and router which live on one shelf.

    If I were to replace my receiver (currently acting as my pre/pro) with a dedicated pre/pro and another amp to do surround duties, I wouldn't have another entire shelf for a big box htpc - I'd only have the space next to the modem and router to share.
    Reply
  • zerorift - Monday, May 07, 2012 - link

    Maybe I'm just not seeing this in the review, but what software did you use to record the graphs of power usage? Reply
  • ganeshts - Monday, May 07, 2012 - link

    The graphs are from HWInfo. The software is capable of much more than just simple graphing. Here is another screenshot (and the link to the software):

    http://www.hwinfo.com/images/HWiNFO32_1.png

    www.hwinfo.com
    Reply
  • nsparadox - Monday, May 07, 2012 - link

    I used to build HTPCs back in the day to record shows as a glorified DVR. There's no bundled tuner. What's the point of HTPCs nowadays, assuming you're not using them as a DVR?

    I can do pretty much all of these things this machine can do with a Blu-Ray player, Google TV, integrated TV software, a Roku box, or just an HDMI out to an existing tablet or laptop PC. And the prices for these approaches ranges from free to $200 depending on what equipment you already have?

    Even for massive movie hoarders who want to stream their collection, you can do that with most of these devices.
    Reply
  • BPB - Monday, May 07, 2012 - link

    Hook this up with an HDHomeRun Prime and you have one heck of a DVR. It will do lots more than any of the other items you mentioned.

    But, the point about the Mac Mini is a good one, you can just buy one of those, load Windows for $100, and you're good to go (sans blu-ray).
    Reply
  • Southernsharky - Monday, May 07, 2012 - link

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

    HP Pavilion dv6-6c50us Notebook Intel Core i5 2450M(2.50GHz) 15.6" 6GB Memory DDR3 750GB HDD 5400rpm BD Combo Intel HD Graphics 3000

    In stock.
    Was: $799.99
    Now: $759.99

    Ok yes it only has 6gb of memory, but it also has a quad core processor... and of course a screen and that sort of thing.... And oh yeah... its 759.99.

    Its even got the 750gb HD.......
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Monday, May 07, 2012 - link

    That would compare with the Core HT 252B we reviewed earlier (There is no dGPU in that model).

    Add the dGPU, and the laptop cost would turn out to be similar to that of the system here. The only difference is the screen (we have analyzed this in the first generation Vision 3D review), and the reason the laptop turns out cheaper is because of the economies of scale (more laptops are bound to be sold compared to the number of such HTPCs).
    Reply
  • Wurmer - Monday, May 07, 2012 - link

    I agree with many posters here, 1190.00 $ for an HTCP is way too much money. I've built a few by mostly salvaging parts from older computers. Some may argue that I don't get the best power efficiency by doing is so but I certainly save a bundle of cash in parts. Anyways, you don't need a super powerful rig to play Blue ray and store media. A good mid end rig of three years ago is plenty good for HTCP usage. I got some parts on the cheap so my next HTPC will include an AMD x3 455, 8 gig of rams and cheap MSI board, GT 430. The only thing I'll be spending cash on this time around is a dedicated HTPC case from Lian Li (200.00$) which should last me many years. The only real thing that is expensive with that kind of built is the storage since the last year or so HHD prices have gone through the roof and if you use you HTPC quite a bit then you need some serious storage space. Reply
  • philipma1957 - Monday, May 07, 2012 - link

    Yeah I agree I even set about building a htpc/gamer with new parts.

    an intel 2500t 210 or a 2500k for 210 I have both.
    a crucial ssd 199
    a wd 2tb hdd 99
    a passive gpu card hd7750 140 or a hd6870 with a fan for 150 I have both,
    a mobo 130
    samsung ram 80
    a cheap rosewill case 25
    a seasonic psu 110
    a samsung bluray 65
    total 1058

    add soft ware and a tuner and you are at 1.2k all new parts. functionally it is just better.

    It will game that gpu gets 7.4 on wei and if you sub a hd6870 you can game at almost all games. I know I have a hd6870 and it runs hotter uses more power but gamers better and gets a 7.8 for wei.

    now if you are in an apartment and are really tight for space this unit makes sense over my build.

    If you have rack space this unit does not make sense at least to me it doesn't. my wei scores are 7.3 for the cpu and 7.4 for the gpu. and 7.8 for all other. if you swap the 2500k and the hd6870 you get 7.8 for all score . same price but more watts used. this all fits in a 14 by 14 by 7 inch case.

    I can't see using the asrock unless space is really really really tight.
    Reply
  • Scannall - Monday, May 07, 2012 - link

    A Mac Mini with an i7 and a real video card is $4.00 less. And a better machine. Reply
  • Wurmer - Monday, May 07, 2012 - link

    I've considered the mac mini but the IGP Intel 3000 is a bit weak and the one with the optional AMD GPU is not much more powerful. When the Mac mini gets Ivy bridge and Intel 4000 IGP things will be more interesting I think. Reply
  • justniz - Tuesday, May 08, 2012 - link

    This unit comes with an IR receiver.
    Why are most manufacturers still producing/supporting IR remotes instead of wireless remotes?
    Wireless remotes have many advantages and no disadvantages, such as better range, including through walls, they still work in bright sunlight, and theres no need to point the remote at the receiver.
    The ergonomics of remotes is limited by the need to point them. Without that limitation their whole design could be improved.
    Reply
  • JSt0rm01 - Tuesday, May 08, 2012 - link

    for $99 you can get a apple tv that while it has way less raw "features" Has the ability to stream content from your main system and stream from the internet all in 1080p with 5.1 digital audio output. I dont see how these feature sets are worth $900 more then the feature set of a apple tv or roku.

    ---------------------------------

    Also, after being a member of the anandtech forums for 10 years I was permanently banned by the moderators there because they wanted to censor a website (ffdt.info) that had conversation that was critical of their moderation. I find that the free flow of all information on the internet is critical. For a tech website such as this to limit the flow of information is offensive the core of these beliefs and its all because certain people in positions of illusory power deem that information detrimental to their positions.
    Reply
  • axellslade - Tuesday, May 08, 2012 - link

    I just built a brand new HTPC but I can't seem to be able to find the VESA mounting holes on the side of my HAF X. And it's weighting like a ton. I think I did something wrong. Reply
  • LoneWolf15 - Wednesday, May 09, 2012 - link

    As nice as it looks, I'll pass.

    Cool PC, bro --but there are options that will get this job done equally well, for far less. Ones that don't have Asrock's track record for awful customer support if something goes wrong (having owned one of their high-end mainboards briefly, I experienced that personally).

    Less expensive options have desktop CPU upgrade options too. The mobile Sandy Bridge systems currently out aren't upgradeable to mobile Ivy Bridge, so I doubt this is, either.
    Reply
  • cjmccarthy72 - Thursday, May 10, 2012 - link

    I almost dare not admit to owning one of these- I can imagine the comments especially from the build your own brigade....

    But I got one just before Christmas and it is a real box of joy. I stuck a SSD from my previous HTPC inside it and this goes like the wind. Large photo, music and movie collection load really quick in WMC. Streams HD media with ease. Extremely quiet- the fans on my plasma are more audible!

    Very small- and yet it is truly a one box solution- despite this review I can play most games like Street Fighter IV at full spec on it.

    I live in tiny city centre flat and so yes it is expensive, but it beats having a laptop or desktop on the floor, taking up space. Paired with a soundbar and HD tv it means very little space is taken up with my equipment and so my wife is happy. It means that my AV cabinet is now taken up with more family friendly boxes- Scrabble, Monopoly, Battleships!

    Last, but not least, it has Blu-Ray- now if only Windows 8 supported it natively....
    Reply
  • allensays - Friday, May 11, 2012 - link

    I can do the same things with my similarly spec'd Asus K73S laptop, then unplug it, go out on the deck or take it to the beach...

    ...For much LESS $.

    What a waste.
    Reply
  • cjmccarthy72 - Friday, May 11, 2012 - link

    I'm happy for you- no beach or deck where I am I am afraid- & lots of rain at the moment here unfortunately... but also no USA Amazon so no "similarly spec'd Asus K73S laptop". Our Amazon has listed only an Asus K73S- but this only has an i3 cpu, dvd only, 4gb ram only, 320gb hard-drive only - all for $852 equivalent price in dollars. So you clearly have the better deal your end.
    I have a company laptop which sounds like a jet taking off so I like the silence of this HTPC but I also use it as my PVR so want it hooked up all the time- yet hidden away without my family needing to plug it in and hook it up. + I can do some limited upgrades with it. My last HTPC, a Sony VGX-XL, was also relatively expensive- but I had it for over 5 years before I sold it and so thought that was a reasonable investment.

    But clearly for some people this would be a waste- I agree- no argument. However as an owner I thought I would add an opinion about this HTPC, as the majority of comments here only deal with the price.
    Reply
  • iq100 - Thursday, May 24, 2012 - link

    There are better alternatives to the $50 JRiver MediaCenter game. Did you know that JRiver will charge you again and again for each new release? Worse is their censorship. Criticize them, post about alternatives, and you will be BANNED for life. And they will get their 'commercial friends' to do the same. These folks are NOT like anandtech. They are not about sharing ideas. They add on free GNU softward without embracing the spirit of open source code. They are about commercial money wars. If they were Egypt, or Iran, or Iraq, the would kill your right to speak.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ltoQwSpHQBA

    iq100
    the best way to delete an idea is to post one of your own.
    Reply
  • ix400 - Sunday, June 03, 2012 - link

    Or is there an alternative tool for finding out the exact refresh rate of the display? Reply
  • iq100 - Monday, June 04, 2012 - link

    With MPC-HC:
    http://www.homecinema-hd.com/autofrequency_en.html

    iq100
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ltoQwSpHQBA
    Reply
  • ix400 - Thursday, June 07, 2012 - link

    ... but this tool doesn't show me a precise value of the refresh rate that is actually set. Reply
  • iq100 - Friday, June 08, 2012 - link

    >http://www.exampledepot.com/egs/java.awt/screen_Sc...

    You can do this in java:
    http://www.exampledepot.com/egs/java.awt/screen_Sc...

    iq100
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ltoQwSpHQBA
    Reply
  • shurik_1 - Thursday, August 02, 2012 - link

    try to create couple of dozen gig archive on another PC. create a parity set. corrupt a few bits. transfer to Vision 3D. try to repair and see for yourself what happens...

    I have complained to ASRock about this and was forced to send entire PC for repairs (no they do not refund shipping costs you have to swallow it). Only change is that BIOS now is 1.10c instead of 1.10. A friend of mine managed to get from their support the actual BIOS without shipping back and indeed it solved his issues as well.

    Now I try to update memory to 16GB and the issue is back. Had to go back to 8GB. It's been over a month since I reported this new issue to them and still no fix.

    Note that they never acknowledged the issue and never posted updated BIOS to their site. Customers data gets silently corrupted meanwhile...

    Other than that is has everything I wanted in HTPC.
    Reply
  • hifigate - Thursday, October 11, 2012 - link

    The graphs are from HWInfo. The software is capable of much more than just simple graphing. Here is another screenshot (and the link to the software):

    http://www.hifigate.com/bestsellers/

    www.hifigate.com
    Reply

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