ASRock VisionX HTPC 321B Ivy Bridge mini-PC 5

ASRock VisionX HTPC 321B Ivy Bridge mini-PC Review

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The name ASRock is for many people synonymous with motherboards, and there can be little doubt that ASRock has made great strides in that market. However, ASRock makes many products, including fully-fledged PCs. Today, we are taking a look at one of those PCs designed to cater to enthusiasts that need a small form-factor PC for normal use or as a basic HTPC. The ASRock VisionX line has been around for some time, and the 321B HTPC model I have on my desk is a perfect example of why ASRock has quickly climbed up through the hearts and minds of enthusiasts across the globe.

I'm pretty sure these VisionX boxes first made their debut at Computex last year, but I didn't see them hit retail until several months later, probably around the beginning of October. Their industrial design caught my attention right away, as did the heavy aluminum shell and high-end mobile part specification that allows these units to meet nearly all the basic needs of a consumer, including the ability to game well at 720p. These units are, as such, also a good choice for Valve's Big Picture functionality, an interface focused on bringing a decent PC gaming interface into the living room. This box is also made for some hardcore gaming as Valve's Big Picture press releases even include a picture of a silver unit by ASRock to show that ASRock clearly designed the VisionX 321B HTPC around that market segment.

The unit arrived at my house with several other items, most notably the ASRock Z77 OC Formula motherboard I reviewed here. It also managed to make its way into my AMD FM2 APU review. My wife has since put the VisionX box to the test, using it both for work and play over the past 6 months by snatching it up and out of my grasp the moment she first set her eyes on it. All I got from her was a "Oh, that's cute, can I have it?" before it disappeared. My wife doesn't show an interest in PC components often, other than the interest any other tech-savvy, iPhone-toting exec is going to exhibit, so what caught her attention? Let's take a look.

ASRock VisionX 321B HTPC
CHIPSET:Intel HM77 Express
GPU:AMD Radeon HD7850M 1 GB
CPU:Intel Mobile Ivy Bridge Processor
NETWORKING:Broadcomm Gigabit Ethernet & 2T2R 802.11 a/b/g/n WiFi
AUDIO:7.1 CH HD Audio with THX TruStudio
ODD:Slot-load Blu-Ray
STORAGE:750 GB SATA 2.5'' Hard Drive & SD Card Reader
PORTS:DVI-I, HDMI, 4x USB 2.0 port (rear), 4x USB 3.0 (2 at front, 2 at rear), Rear Audio I/O(+headphone and Mic on front), Optical S/PDIF, 1x eSATA
COOLER:Heatpipe based Heatsink + Fan
DIMENSIONS:200mm(W) x 70mm(H) x 200mm(L)
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