The ASRock Vision 3D 252B is primarily built out of notebook components, and it is not possible for the average enthusiast to build such a system with off-the-shelf components.

Motherboard & Chipset : mini-ITX Intel HM65-MXM

The motherboard used in the Vision 3D series is based on the Cougar Point Intel HM65 chipset. The 2 SATA 6 Gbps ports are available as headers on the motherboard, while one SATA 3 Gbps port is made available as an eSATA3 port. Another SATA port is available as a header on the motherboard (it is connected to the Blu-ray drive).

The mini PCI-E slot is taken up by the Atheros based AzureWave WLAN module. The two sides of the Vision 3D chassis are used as antennae. The two DIMM slots are on the right side of the board, next to the CPU. There is also a MXM slot in which the GT 540M MXM module is plugged in.

CPU : Intel Core i5-2520M

The Core i5-2520M is a 35W TDP processor belonging to the 32nm Intel Sandy Bridge family. Clocking in at 2.50 GHz, it is capable of going up to 3.2 GHz for a single core and 3.0 GHz for both the cores in turbo mode. 3MB of Intel Smart Cache is shared between the two cores and the integrated GPU.

Integrated GPU : Intel HD Graphics 3000

The integrated GPU in the Sandy Bridge processors come in two varieties, namely, HD Graphics 2000 and HD Graphics 3000. The Core i5-2520M uses the latter. It has a base frequency of 650 MHz, and is capable of going up to 1.3 GHz in stressful conditions. It supports full 3D video capabilities, QuickSync and WiDi. However, WiDi is not supported by the CoreHT 252B. WiDi makes sense for laptops, but not much for SFF HTPCs. So, we don't fault ASRock for avoiding this feature. Since we also have a discrete GPU in the system, Virtu from LucidLogix is necessary for users to be able to take advantage of the HD 3000's capabilities. The Vision 3D 252B's BIOS comes with a license for Virtu. Most users will be using Virtu to take advantage of QuickSync.

Discrete GPU : NVIDIA GT 540M

The MXM module in the Vision 3D 252B is the NVIDIA GT 540M. This is a slight step up from the GT 425M used in the first generation Vision 3D 137B.

DRAM : ASInt 2 x 4GB DDR3-1333

ASRock has used a relatively new memory vendor in ASInt for the CoreHT 252B. The memory chips operate with a 9-9-9 CAS latency.

Hard Disk : Western Digital Scorpio Black 750GB 7200 rpm 2.5"

The 750GB Scorpio Black is one of the best reviewed hard disks in its class. It has been reviewed to have upto 120 MBps sequential read speeds.

The hard disk is a good choice with respect to the price - performance ratio for the ASRock Vision 3D 252B.

Optical Disk Drive : Philips Lite-on Blu-ray / DVD RW Slot Loading Drive

The ASRock Vision 3D 252B ships with the Philips Lite-on DS-4ETS BD Combo Drive. This is a slot loading drive similar to the one in the first generation Vision 3D, befitting a high end premium HTPC.

MCE Remote

One of the shortcomings of the ASRock HTPCs when compared with something like the Zinos from Dell is the absence of a wireless keyboard / mouse combo. However, ASRock does take care to ensure the presence of an IR receiver in the system and also bundle a MCE remote.

The MCE remote bundled with this system is the same as that of the CoreHT 252B. When the CoreHT 252B shipped with the same remote as the Vision 3D first generation unit, we thought the second generation Vision 3D would also get a step up. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

As we have noted before, the quality of the MCE remote is a big letdown. The keys are quite small and the unit feels cheap in the hand despite being pretty decent in appearance.

In the next few sections, we will take a look at the performance of the ASRock Vision 3D 252B.

Unboxing Impressions Generic Performance Metrics


View All Comments

  • LoneWolf15 - Wednesday, May 9, 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.
  • 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....
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    the best way to delete an idea is to post one of your own.
  • ix400 - Sunday, June 3, 2012 - link

    Or is there an alternative tool for finding out the exact refresh rate of the display? Reply
  • iq100 - Monday, June 4, 2012 - link

    With MPC-HC:

  • ix400 - Thursday, June 7, 2012 - link

    ... but this tool doesn't show me a precise value of the refresh rate that is actually set. Reply
  • iq100 - Friday, June 8, 2012 - link


    You can do this in java:

  • shurik_1 - Thursday, August 2, 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.

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