The ASRock Vision 3D 252B is basically a notebook solution. It wouldn't make sense to compare it with full blown desktop Sandy Bridge solutions (or for that matter, any system with a power consumption of more than 100W). In the comparative benchmarks provided in the rest of this review, we will provide the scores obtained by the Vision 3D 252B and other similar SFF HTPC solutions.

Windows Experience Index

This metric is often considered meaningless, but we feel it serves as an indicator of what could be the bottleneck in a system for pre-built HTPCs. With such a premium configuration, the only letdown is the absence of a SSD, and it is duly reflected in this index with the primary hard disk weighing in at 5.9.

Using a SSD as the primary disk is the only thing that could have been done in order to improve this score.

Miscellaneous Performance Metrics

The graphs below give an idea of where the ASRock Vision 3D 252B stands with respect to performance when compared with other SFF HTPCs.

PCMark Vantage's PCMark score gives a general idea of the system's capability.

Futuremark PCMark Vantage

We also ran the 3D Mark Vantage and 3D Mark 06 benchmarks and the graphs below show how the GT 540M (in conjunction with the Core i5-2520M) fares when compared to the graphics capabilities of other pre-built SFF HTPCs.

Futuremark 3DMark Vantage

Futuremark 3D Mark 06

The Vision 3D 252B is miles ahead of the SFF HTPCs from last year. This goes on to prove that the bar for the high-end HTPC just keeps getting higher.

In addition to the above synthetic benchmarks, a couple of common HTPC workloads were also benchmarked. We have some data on the x264 encoding performance using the i5-2520M. Note that we are unable to utilize QuickSync for this test because QuickSync is unable to provide any for of support for accelerating x264 encode. As expected, the results match what was obtained in the CoreHT 252B review.

x264 Encoding - Pass 1

x264 Encoding - Pass 2

An estimate of how well WinRAR performs, particularly with respect to processing split archives, wraps up this section. To evaluate this, we take a 4.36 GB MKV file, compress it in the 'Best' compression mode into a split archive (97.1 MB each), which results in 44 files on the hard disk. The time taken to decompress this split archive is then recorded. The performance in this benchmark is heavily influenced by the hard disk in the system. It looks like both the hard disk characteristics of the Vision 3D 252B are the same as that of the CoreHT 252B.

WinRAR Benchmarking

We have deliberately refrained from dealing with gaming benchmarks in this review. Instead, we will focus on very HTPC-centric benchmarks over the next few sections. For readers interested in finding out how the GT 540M fares in gaming bencmarks when coupled with a mobile Sandy Bridge processor, I suggest taking a look at Dustin's gaming benchmarks prepared as part of a notebook review. Though Dustin doesn't have kind words for the GT 540M, note that the Vision 3D 252B is definitely a step up from the first generation Vision 3D (for which we have gaming benchmarks here).

System Teardown and Analysis Network Streaming
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  • BPB - Monday, May 7, 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 8, 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 7, 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 7, 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 7, 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 7, 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 7, 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 7, 2012 - link

    Agreed :) I have recommended the same to ASRock. Reply
  • tctc - Monday, May 7, 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 7, 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

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