IT APPEARS AS if ASRock has set its mind on becoming serious competitor in the mini PC market and its latest addition, the Vision 3D 135B looks like a huge step in the right direction compared to its previous attempts. Not only has ASRock come up with a much better looking chassis, but this time they’ve also added discrete graphics in the shape of a mobile GeForce GT 425M, alongside a mobile Intel Core i3 370M processor.
ASRock’s first attempts at mini PC systems didn’t come in what we’d call a fantastic looking chassis, but the Vision 3D 135B seems to have borrowed design cues from both Apple and AOpen’s mini PCs. It’s actually quite amazing what a difference a new chassis design can make in terms of first impression of a product and the Vision 3D 135B is a great example of this. The new slot loaded optical drive also helps to make this look like a much more attractive HTPC solution in combination with the aluminium chassis.
The hardware features have also been overhauled and although the base processor appears to be a Core i3 370M, ASRock can potentially fit any mobile Core i processor inside the Vision 3D 135B. On the graphics side of things ASRock has done something really quite interesting, as not only will you find a GeForce GT 425M GPU inside the Vision 3D 135B, but it’s mounted on an MXM module which means that other graphics options can be installed. Again, it’s not clear if ASRock will offer other options, but it’s at least a possibility.
Port wise the Vision 3D 135B has six rear USB 2.0 ports, an eSATA connector, Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI and DVI display connectivity, 7.1-channel analogue audio and optical S/PDIF out as well as two front mounted audio jacks, two USB 3.0 ports, and a memory card reader. There’s also built in support for 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi while there’s also space for a 2.5-inch drive and two DDR3 SO-DIMMs inside the system. Finally a Windows MCE compatible remote control is bundled with the system.
At 200x200x70mm (WxDxH) it’s almost twice as high as Apple’s latest Mac mini, but this is also a much more powerful system in terms of the hardware fitted. We’re not sure what the retail price will be, but judging by the hardware, we don’t expect the Vision 3D 135B to be cheap due to it being more or less a mid-range notebook without the screen and battery. Still, if this is the direction ASRock is heading in, then Pegatrons split from Asus might not have been such a bad thing after all.S|A
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