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  • shurik_1 - Monday, November 12, 2012 - link

    Could you test the silent data corruption issue I have described in Vision 3D comments? With Vision 3D it is still an issue when 16GB RAM are installed (with 8GB RAM they fixed it via BIOS update that they did not make publicly available) and ASRock although acknowledges its existence refuses to fix it. Reply
  • ganeshts - Monday, November 12, 2012 - link

    I will follow up on this with ASRock. That said, I have been using the Vision HT / Vision 3D 252B to unpack a number of split archives (around 400 MB each unpacking to ~4.37 GB / ~10 GB) and not found any issues so far.

    But, definitely an interesting case (if there is some data corruption with a different DRAM, that may point to some issue in the DRAM module itself). Are you aware of any other users with the same issue? I am trying to see if there is something common between all the systems exhibiting this problem...
  • shurik_1 - Monday, November 12, 2012 - link

    It will not complain at unpack because my thinking is that corruption occur at writing (at some point in my lengthy mail exchange with ASRock support Intel ME was mentioned as the culprit). I discovered the issue because par repair invariably fails on large file sets. That is why I call it silent. Did you try to create checksum of archive content and test after unpack? I have only one set of laptop 16GB modules. But when my 2nd gen Vision 3D had BIOS prior to 1.10c ("c" suffix is important here) it was present with 16GB and two different sets of 8GB modules. Reply
  • klmccaughey - Monday, November 12, 2012 - link

    I don't understand why manufacturers can't release a cheap HTPC. It is still much more cost effective to build your own.

    Every time I see one of these reviews I get excited, and every time I get disappointed as I see the outrageous price tag.
  • EnzoFX - Monday, November 12, 2012 - link

    I too wish there were cheaper alternatives. I myself have no need for optical (Ew), and am usually eyeing those tiny foxconn's that use E-350's. Though I'd more likely go with something with more performance.

    Perhaps this segment is too much of a niche (Probably). Intel's NUC looks promising, hope it becomes standardized so that the race to the bottom can start on those chips =P.
  • lurker22 - Monday, November 12, 2012 - link

    Avoid the 350. Yes it will work, but a lot of use end up being slow on it especially when the GPU acceleration isn't available. Reply
  • StealthX32 - Monday, November 12, 2012 - link

    From what I've read on a few Newegg reviews, you can get a Broadcom BCM9700xx hardware decoder card to put into the miniPCI-e slot and achieve <20% CPU utilization on even high bitrate 1080p material.

    I bought this from them when they had the buy an HTPC get a free SSD combo, but haven't gotten around to buying the Broadcom card yet.
  • lurker22 - Monday, November 12, 2012 - link

    As I said, it's doing everything outside of the GPU accelerated videos that ends up being very slow. Web browsing, Netflix, etc is all CPU limited. Reply
  • BuddyRich - Monday, November 12, 2012 - link

    Netflix via website and silverlight is bad.

    Youtube HD is GPU accelerated and Netflix Win8 also works nicely.

    One of the few pluses of Win8!
  • Pipperox - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    I have an E-350 based Zotac Nano.
    It's absolutely silent, can play most media content without a hitch (haven't tried 1080p60 content though, but 24 and 30Hz are not a problem) and with Windows 8 internet browsing and general PC usage is butter smooth.

    Sure, i wouldn't do media transcoding or rendering or content creation on such a PC, but for the value and intended use I couldn't be happier.
  • 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
  • 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).

    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.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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 :)
  • 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
  • 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!
  • 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
  • Guspaz - Monday, November 12, 2012 - link

    The lack of DisplayPort video output is kind of a big deal... DisplayPort is the only output that the Intel HD 4000 supports high resolution (like 2560x1440 or 2560x1600) over. It will not output these resolutions over HDMI or DVI, as the Intel HD 4000 does not support dual-link DVI.

    As this is a rather severe shortcoming to a user with a 27" or larger monitor, and users may expect support for this resolution since the chip itself does support it, it should be mentioned in the review. Otherwise, a user might buy this computer only to find out that it doesn't support any 27" monitors...

    A better approach would have been for Asrock to include a DisplayPort instead of DVI, and then include a cheap passive DP->DVI adapter in the box. Such adapters are very cheap (under $7 from monoprice), so this would have been an enormously more flexible option.

    As the system stands, with no option for a videocard slot, this system can never support large displays.
  • hughlle - Monday, November 12, 2012 - link

    The vast majority of users will be using an HTPC with their HDTV, not a "small" high end moniter, so for the majority of users wanting an HTPC, 1920x1080, as in HD resolutions, is what they will be looking for. Reply
  • methudman6 - Monday, November 12, 2012 - link

    It could've been marketed as a "PC-Mini" too if it had display port. I find it strange that they market it so strongly as an HTPC when it looks like it'd make a very nice small computer for casual use. Reply
  • Guspaz - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    There is nothing about this system that makes it an "HTPC" except the cheap remote they include with it, and that's something you can add to any computer for a few dollars. It's just as well suited as a general SFF computer except for this issue. Previous Asrock systems in this identical form factor (and I've used a few of the ION ones for media playback at a large convention) didn't even have a remote. Reply
  • Death666Angel - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    But it also seems like an oversight for Intel to not have DVI 2560 output. What did they gain by that omission? Reply
  • Guspaz - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    Pin count, perhaps? Take a look at the respective pin counts, and I'll exclude hotplug, power, shield, ground, reserved, analog (except on VGA), or optional pins, since none of those would have to be routed to the CPU AFAIK.:

    DVI: 10 pins
    DisplayPort: 10 pins
    HDMI: 11 pins
    VGA: 12 pins
    DVI Dual-Link: 16 pins

    I may be excluding some pins that do in fact have to be routed to the CPU, but my basic point is that adding dual-link DVI support would have required adding more pins/traces to the processor, socket, motherboard, etc. That's a non-trivial thing, and from Intel's perspective you can use an adapter to get dual-link DVI anyhow (although at $69 from monoprice, the adapter isn't cheap like the $8 single-link DVI adapter is)
  • deadlockedworld - Monday, November 12, 2012 - link

    Apple should sue!! (seriously though, the shape is almost exactly the same as the previous generation mini) Reply
  • Guspaz - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    The Asrock machines are waaay bigger than the Mini, and the Mini wasn't the first to use that form factor (mini ITX boxes predate it). It was the thinnest of them, to be sure, but not the first. Reply
  • IlllI - Monday, November 12, 2012 - link

    wonder what ever happened to those. looks like they dont sell them anymore Reply
  • Grok42 - Monday, November 12, 2012 - link

    I cut the cord/dish 6 years ago. My kids have all grown up not having access to normal television programming. I have a WD-Live x2, Roku x3, iPodses, iPads and iPhones all which can basically access the same media including a 6TB NAS drive. I rip all the kids movies to the NAS drive as soon as we buy them which is 90% of what is on the NAS drive other than home movies and photos. I watch movies from NetFlix, Hulu or rent them on Amazon. I love browsing YouTube from the WD-Live for most of the misc stuff.

    What else does a HTPC bring to the table that the ~$99 WD-Live doesn't do better and for less? The WD-Live is tiny, has no fans and is Velcroed to the back of my entertainment system. It is plugged into a Wireless N router and can stream 1080P movies with ease. The only thing I can think of is that I can't play PC games or Surf; is there something else?

    Not a troll, I sort of feel like I'm making this huge mistake not having an HTPC given my setup but I can never figure out why I would want one.
  • Death666Angel - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    I had a WD TV (the first one I think) and it always annoyed me that it could not decode DTS, which meant that I did not have dual audio for most of my library. It also lacked menu support and Blu Ray support. The menu was terribly slow and browsing a somewhat larger HDD was just awful.
    I'm sure those boxes have come a long way, but that was the point where I decided I would much rather go all in and have something that I know handles everything I throw at it in one way or another, than to have something that is cheaper and smaller, but worry about whether or not it will play everything I have the way I want it and be burdened by somewhat lacking software/firmware support.
    Easy browsing of the web and games are the added bonus and I always have a good back up PC in case one of them breaks and someone needs a quick replacement.
    If your set up has never failed you with a film you had, awesome. I have been disappointed by it too much to go back. :)
  • Jaybus - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    I have two WD-Live boxes and they do have their use. A PC brings several things to the table.

    To begin with, it brings adaptability. My biggest complaint with set top boxes in general is that it puts you at the mercy of the manufacturer for software fixes / features. When any of the online services change something, it may be months before an update is available. A HTPC is far more adaptable in terms of software.

    Another area is remotes. The WD remote is sluggish and is an oddball format that hardly any third party remotes can emulate.

    I can see why someone wouldn't care if they don't wish to play games. But it is damn handy to have real surfing capability along with a keyboard and mouse. Is there anything else it beats the set top box in besides surfing and games? Of course! It can do almost anything that a laptop can do! It essentially is a laptop.
  • prdola0 - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    Atom+ION might be quite slow, but for SFF HTPC usage, it served me quite well. I've been using it for the past two years and it still does the job. Of course it's not a gaming machine - it can't handle anything more demanding than TESIV: Oblivion with low details, but for casual Steam games like Machinarium, Worms Reloaded etc. it's completely sufficient. You shouldn't bash the Atom+ION combo so much. After all, it was the one thing that made this from factor popular, in my opinion. Reply
  • Death666Angel - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    Kinda sad that AsRock does not provide a unit that has an AMD APU inside it. I don't think many HTPC uses are limited by single threaded performance and the better iGPU can make a difference when playing games on the big TV (I use my A6 Llano HTPC as a console sometimes). The only thing I could think of to stop the use of an AMD APU is power consumtion. Pity AMD chooses way too high voltages (I dropped mine from 1.4xxV to 1.15V at max turbo). Reply
  • ericore - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    If you do the math, it costs them about 450$-475$ to build, but you only get a dual core CPU (TRAY: $225.00). Since Intel is charging so much for a mobile dual core, you might as well get the quad core for just under 300$. The whole system retails for 700$. Even at 600$, it would still be a crappy deal. A good deal would include 8 GB of RAM, and quad core CPU for 670$. To top off this shitty deal of theirs, they give you a piece of crap power supply adapter, and cheap plastic enclosure. Apple gives you a solid enclosure and a solid adapter, and ships with the same stuff for 599$. Reply
  • ericore - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    This AMD system is much better value; complete build 250$. I would just wait for Jaguar since current E-350 isn't quite HTPC prime yet. Reply
  • joetekubi - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    Form factor is great, performance would fit my needs, but just a little too procey.
    I may go for this 6-8 months from now when they version the platform and the old ones
    are available for (much) less.
  • valnar - Wednesday, November 14, 2012 - link

    How quiet is it? Does the fan speed up on load? Turn off on idle? What? Reply
  • johnny_boy - Sunday, November 18, 2012 - link

    The product isn't bad but compared to a premium machine like a mac mini, the price of the ASRock makes no sense. Reply
  • jeffkibuule - Thursday, November 22, 2012 - link

    Mac Mini only has integrated graphics. This system does not. Reply

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