Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Choosing The Right AM1 Motherboard

Three AMD AM1 Motherboards For The Kabini APU, Reviewed
By

It's always easiest for me to write value conclusions when the differences in price outstrip the dissimilarities in hardware design. This is exemplified by the similarly-configured $50 and $36 motherboards from Asus and MSI.

For one dollar less, you could get Gigabyte's AM1M-S2H, the FlexATX motherboard that fits superbly into a microATX case, but doesn’t fit at all in the mini-ITX form factor evangelized by Asus and MSI. The larger Gigabyte board gives you two PCIe x1 slots that simply don't fit on a mini-ITX board, though. Conversely, MSI exposes a mini-PCIe slot to serve a similar function within the limited scope of notebook-based parts.

I don’t like giving value awards to a majority of contenders in one of my round-ups. But Gigabyte and MSI really do serve two different markets. The only thing bad I can say about them relates to the APU I used to test, which costs almost twice as much as the boards, but won't satisfy many of our readers. Of course, I can’t deny either company an award based on market factors beyond their control. Thus, Gigabyte’s microATX / FlexATX AM1M-S2H gets its value award for its chart-topping position...

...and the $1 more-expensive MSI AM1I gets its value award specific to the mini-ITX form factor.

Display all 49 comments.
  • -5 Hide
    damric , July 2, 2014 12:08 AM
    TL;DR

    Why not throw a mid-ranged discreet GPU in there and see what happens? It's all we really want to know. Otherwise this platform is for strictly 2D flash games.
  • 0 Hide
    jdwii , July 2, 2014 12:19 AM
    This build should not be used for anything other then flash games for HTPC its perfect and light server work i can build this for 250$ and its perfect.
  • -2 Hide
    blackmagnum , July 2, 2014 2:27 AM
    It uses the 'Jaguar' core; the same core technology as the mighty Playstation 4. So, I believe it can handle more than simple flash games!
  • 1 Hide
    zetonfire , July 2, 2014 3:28 AM
    I own this processor paired with a gt 630 from nvidia, 4 gb of ram, hdd 1tb 7200 Rpm and what can i say, it does the job well, it runs 1080p movies with no problem. I play lol with high settings at @ 30-60 fps. At WoW it kinda struggles on 25 man raids but it still playable 20+fps, to mention that settings are nealy high. (both on 1080p). Nfs mostwanted 2012, battlefield 3, grid 2 on 720p 30fps most of the time, some fps drop there and there but still ok.I think if you put a better videocard ( i had the 630 @ house standing for nothing) it could do much better in certain games that are not processor hungry.
  • 4 Hide
    Lightbulbie , July 2, 2014 4:14 AM
    @blackmagnum
    Just because the technology is the same, it doesn't mean that it well perform on par with the PS4.
  • 7 Hide
    wtfxxxgp , July 2, 2014 4:20 AM
    I don't understand why THW doesn't add in games like League of Legends or DOTA2 when testing this type of hardware. I'd like to believe that the person that buys a system like this and DOES NOT buy a discreet GPU is NOT going to be playing games like Far Cry anything. LOL and DOTA2 are free to play, and therefore it is much more likely that they may, at one or other point in time, be tested on this type of system. Make the Games review relevant to the hardware if there is not a discreet GPU, pretty please?
  • 0 Hide
    Eelco van Vliet , July 2, 2014 4:32 AM
    In Europe the prices are a bit different
    Asus 33 Euro
    Gigabyte 32 Euro
    MSI 30 Euro

    I am gonna get the Asus at that price...
  • 0 Hide
    caamsa , July 2, 2014 6:10 AM
    How about the ability to over clock these CPU's with these boards?
  • 0 Hide
    MU_Engineer , July 2, 2014 6:13 AM
    I recently built a wireless router using an Athlon 5150 in a Biostar AM1ML. I'm surprised that $30 board wasn't in the comparison as it has two pretty significant advantages that none of these boards have. It's a micro-DTX board which gives it an extra PCIe slot compared to the mini-ITX units but it still fits in most of the "mini-ITX" cube cases unlike the Gigabyte unit tested here. That second PCIe slot was just what the doctor ordered as I needed to add both a wired Ethernet card and a wireless NIC for that build and it all fit perfectly in a little Silverstone Sugo.
  • 10 Hide
    Puiucs , July 2, 2014 7:28 AM
    again i see reviews and benchmarks for Kabini and none answer the right questions.
    Can it play 1080p/4k videos? (30 or 60fps) youtube or downloaded
    Can it play games that are meant to work on low end PCs?
    What is the HTML5 performance?
    What is the average total cost of the system?
    How can you further improve the system value, depending on the components you choose to buy for it?
  • 10 Hide
    Wisecracker , July 2, 2014 7:41 AM

    My Temash with 2 CUs at 3-400MHz is more than capable of playing RB6: Vegas2 and FEAR at great frame rates. A Kabini with higher clocks and greater memory through-put will play older DX games just dandy.

    It's just a big fail when testers throw BF4 at a 15w APU and exclaim, "It can't play!"

    It's quite dumb, too.

  • 21 Hide
    ta152h , July 2, 2014 7:42 AM
    Tom's should avoid talking about this subject, because every article completely misses the point, and shows a complete lack of understanding of the market.

    These sites often make the same mistake, I think intentionally in some cases (not in Tom's, I think it's just not understanding), of taking products out of their context market. They might put a line up here or there reminding people of the market, but then test it in ways it was never intended to be used. The overall effect is misleading and inappropriate, but under the guise of being accurate since somewhere on some page they mention it's a lower end unit.

    Probably they don't know how to test appropriately. In any case, there aren't the right benchmarks for this type of unit, and so the confused author complains about the CPU on the last page with one last misplaced remark.

    But, for the more informed people, this is a very effective and efficient architecture. It performs as much work per clock cycle as their larger cores, despite being less than 1/3 the size. It's the same size as Bay Trail, despite being on 28nm as compared to 22nm, but has roughly 20% higher IPC, as well as much greater GPU performance. It's a great design.

    Tom's just doesn't know better. They should. They don't. In their blundering and dull-witted way, they think it should be used for gaming, because everyone wanting a gaming processor is going to want one. Kids will be kids.

    Minimally, put a discrete GPU in each, something cheap, if you want to test with games, although it's very difficult to see people buying this platform for gaming in any context. PS4 has that covered with a derivation of this successful architecture.

    To complete the lack of understanding of this baffled author, we have the uninformed remark about the processor costing twice as much as the motherboard. Sadly, this author's lack of understanding precludes him from realizing this is the point. More was put on the APU so it wouldn't have to be put on the motherboard.

    Just a bad article, with no understanding of the segment or product.

    Also, these motherboards and products are more geared for countries that have less disposable income. You can get a 5150 and MB for less than $90, or a 5350 and MB for around $100, and both offer good enough performance to make these attractive products for people needing a computer, but with a limited budget. And no, that market doesn't buy these things for games.

    In any case, the most interesting motherboard for the U.S. market was left out ASRock AM1H-ITX. If you want DisplayPort, it's the only game in town, as well.
  • 1 Hide
    blafrisch , July 2, 2014 8:13 AM
    Any word on what the boot time differences were like across the different motherboards?
  • 1 Hide
    Crashman , July 2, 2014 9:47 AM
    Quote:
    How about the ability to over clock these CPU's with these boards?
    There are no overclocking options, check the BIOS descriptions.

    As for POV, I come at this from the viewpoint of someone who's gamed on Haswell's integrated GPU. I'm just looking for entry-level performance. As in, barely useful 3D. I'm not finding it.

  • 1 Hide
    iknowhowtofixit , July 2, 2014 10:01 AM
    This article is useless. You will find more useful information on Newegg's product page. The tests conducted didn't match the intended application of these parts.
  • -1 Hide
    Crashman , July 2, 2014 10:06 AM
    Quote:
    This article is useless. You will find more useful information on Newegg's product page. The tests conducted didn't match the intended application of these parts.
    I thought it was supposed to be a low-energy multimedia platform with entry-level gaming capability.

  • -3 Hide
    MANOFKRYPTONAK , July 2, 2014 10:19 AM
    For power-miser consumers, meaning it doesn't have much power to do anything!!! LOL, I kid, I kid.

    The same jaguar core that is in the mighty PS4, that must be why the PS4 is sub par, lol...
  • -1 Hide
    Wisecracker , July 2, 2014 10:31 AM

    Asus AM1I-A Mini ITX ---> 25- to 30% OC's

    THG announced the mobo on March 16th ...

  • 1 Hide
    Crashman , July 2, 2014 10:59 AM
    Quote:
    Asus AM1I-A Mini ITX
    THG announced the mobo on March 16th ...
    Really? Dude...
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/am1-motherboard-socket-fs1b-athlon-5350,3850-3.html
    No reference clock control in firmware or motherboard software. If you'd like to recommend a different application, feel free.

  • 3 Hide
    iknowhowtofixit , July 2, 2014 11:04 AM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    This article is useless. You will find more useful information on Newegg's product page. The tests conducted didn't match the intended application of these parts.
    I thought it was supposed to be a low-energy multimedia platform with entry-level gaming capability.


    Where are the tests that reflect that? I don't see any HD playback testing. I also don't see but one graph that shows any testing on power consumption. Do you not think people would be interested in seeing results for tests that aren't maxing out the CPU or GPU? What about a comparison to Intel Atom configurations? Anyone who is honestly interested in learning more about this platform could care less how well BF4 benches.
Display more comments
React To This Article