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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  • Southernsharky - Monday, May 7, 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 7, 2012 - link

    You can get 1tb laptop hdds for around 100$, so that's not really a problem Reply
  • BPB - Monday, May 7, 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 7, 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 9, 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 7, 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 7, 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 8, 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 9, 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 7, 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

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