Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

ECS HDC-I

The Brazos Round-Up: Eight AMD E-350-Based Motherboards
By

We like short, easy-to-remember product names, but perhaps a more descriptive moniker could have made ECS’ top Zacate-based Brazos platform a little more memorable. ECS’s promotional efforts for this product might have even benefited the brand if this product were actually obtainable (see Unobtanium, Definition 2, which this author formerly appropriated from old Hot Rod magazines). Our search engines show only the cheaper HDC-I2 available at retail.

A Bluetooth transceiver, Wi-Fi adapter, USB 3.0 controller, and PCIe slot are three things that make the original HDC-I more desirable than its cheaper I2 sibling. ECS also packs the board with twice as many SATA ports, an eSATA port, an HDMI video output, and two more analog audio jacks compared to the part that we could have actually purchased.

In fact, the only things really missing from the HDC-I are the antenna connectors. ECS chose to go with a single-antenna mini PCIe card and a breakout plate for the antenna, where we would have more likely chosen to ditch the VGA output to make room for these at the I/O panel. Anyone who would like to upgrade this board to a different mini PCIe card will be pleased to see that it supports both full-length and half-length replacements.

Unique to ECS is the use of a VIA VT1708B audio codec with DTS Connect. Though most mini-ITX users are primarily interested in multi-channel audio pass-through, DTS Connect also encodes system sounds (such as game surround) to the platform’s digital outputs.

ECS’ inclusion of four SATA cables is a rarity among mini-ITX products. While many users wouldn’t want to sacrifice a slot to support the included Wi-Fi antenna, drilling a hole in the case is also an option.

HDC-I Tuning

Like its Asus competitor, ECS’ HDC-I ignored our memory’s DDR3-1333 programming and instead defaulted to DDR3-1066. This is correctable in the BIOS, and is seen as a memory clock of 667 MHz in GPU-Z.

ECS tries to sneak in an advantage in our benchmark tests by raising the APU clock 1.9% by default. ECS isn’t the only brand to do this, but a 1.9% overclock looks a little guiltier than ASRock’s 1.3%.

ECS does not allow users to choose their own overclock. With only DRAM data rate and memory timings adjustable, performance optimization is kept to a minimum.

Display all 37 comments.
  • 3 Hide
    gameworm , July 4, 2011 4:40 AM
    The Zotac board actually is available on Newegg

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813500068

    Only problem is that it is $160 instead of $130

    Otherwise very nice roundup. I've been thinking of using one of these for a server/NAS.
  • 2 Hide
    vaughn2k , July 4, 2011 6:11 AM
    Wow! AS-rocks!
  • -4 Hide
    noob2222 , July 4, 2011 6:14 AM
    Odd timing for the roundup, Llano just came out, these will be discontinued asap.

    Not good for much save storage, but that wasn't tested. Would have much rather see an A8 board roundup since they are on newegg now. Picked up one myself for my htpc/storage setup.
  • 0 Hide
    Mathos , July 4, 2011 6:18 AM
    noob2222Odd timing for the roundup, Llano just came out, these will be discontinued asap.Not good for much save storage, but that wasn't tested. Would have much rather see an A8 board roundup since they are on newegg now. Picked up one myself for my htpc/storage setup.


    Uh no, Brazos is bast on the Bobcat core which is a low power version of Bulldozer. These are meant for ultra portables and netbooks, nettops, ultrathin notebooks and the likes.

    Llano is the entry level desktop APU until they switch from Stars cores on those to the newer bulldozer cores.
  • -3 Hide
    noob2222 , July 4, 2011 6:28 AM
    mathosUh no, Brazos is bast on the Bobcat core which is a low power version of Bulldozer. These are meant for ultra portables and netbooks, nettops, ultrathin notebooks and the likes.

    And yet this roundup is .... desktop boards.

    And brazos has nothing in common with bulldozer.
  • 0 Hide
    BulkZerker , July 4, 2011 7:53 AM
    mathosUh no, Brazos is bast on the Bobcat core which is a low power version of Bulldozer. These are meant for ultra portables and netbooks, nettops, ultrathin notebooks and the likes. Llano is the entry level desktop APU until they switch from Stars cores on those to the newer bulldozer cores.


    noob2222And yet this roundup is .... desktop boards. And brazos has nothing in common with bulldozer.



    Net TOP. Meaning a low power ITX board. Brazos is merely a stopgap till AMD has the tooling to kick out tons of BD cores. Though I will agree this roundup is a bit late it is at least thorough.
  • 0 Hide
    cangelini , July 4, 2011 8:29 AM
    gamewormThe Zotac board actually is available on Newegghttp://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6813500068Only problem is that it is $160 instead of $130Otherwise very nice roundup. I've been thinking of using one of these for a server/NAS.


    Good call--that board only recently became available, after this story was scheduled to be published. We've since updated the conclusion and price chart to reflect the market as of July 4th, 2011.

    Cheers,
    Chris
  • 2 Hide
    GaMEChld , July 4, 2011 9:30 AM
    BulkZerkerNet TOP. Meaning a low power ITX board. Brazos is merely a stopgap till AMD has the tooling to kick out tons of BD cores. Though I will agree this roundup is a bit late it is at least thorough.


    Brazos is NOT a stopgap, it is meant for very low power applications. It's basically AMD's take on Atom style devices. Bulldozer is not meant to scale to this low power envelope. That's why there are already plans for Brazos successors. Ontario/Zacate will be replaced by Khrishna/Wichita. Llano will be succeeded by Trinity, which is Bulldozer based. Zambezi is supposed to be succeeded by something called Komodo, which I haven't read much about.
  • 0 Hide
    silverblue , July 4, 2011 12:16 PM
    Trinity and Komodo are both Enhanced Bulldozer. As such, Trinity will not be using Zambezi cores.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , July 4, 2011 2:13 PM
    Well, aside from a few bits about Brazos being a stop-gap based on Bulldozer being wrong, the basic premise of "odd timing for a Brazos roundup" holds true.

    Llano for laptops is out-freaking-standing, Llano for desktops is amazing for cheap OEM-built desktops and small form-factor HTPCs. TBH, it shouldn't excite much of anyone else, nor was it intended to replace Phenom II + dGPU for enthusiasts.
  • -4 Hide
    killerclick , July 4, 2011 2:25 PM
    These CPUs and graphics are pitiful for a desktop system. Might as well buy a cheap laptop and hook it up to whatever display you want. You can buy a Toshiba P6200 with 4GB RAM, 320GB HDD, DVD RW, webcam, wireless, bluetooth and W7HP 64bit for less than $400.
  • 4 Hide
    jsowoc , July 4, 2011 3:57 PM
    When you ran an Atom board comparison, you included performance data for an old Pentium (or Athlon; don't remember). This was very helpful, as I'd get a feel for how good/bad is 5 minutes for your workload. Of course, this was just an anchor point, and would be excluded from any value/efficiency graphs.

    Does anyone else feel the performance graphs would be more meaningful with a typical Atom and a cheap Athlon X2 as points of reference?
  • 1 Hide
    denial_ , July 4, 2011 5:23 PM
    These are not design to be purely performer, we all know that. Their purpose is to compete with the Intel Atom processors.
  • 2 Hide
    hatethisbull , July 4, 2011 5:30 PM
    For all the data that's included in the chart, it's quite astonishing that there's nothing to distinguish which boards use SO-DIMMs and which ones use DDR3-1333. Most users are going to care a LOT more about this than whether or not there exists an internal parallel port connector.

    All of these setups are about twice as expensive as they should be. By the time you add all the trimmings to build up a complete system, you're spending nearly what you would for an economy desktop where a $100 WD TV or $200 pre-built Atom machine would be a much better investment. Wrapping a $10 chip in a $165 board just makes zero sense. In fact, I'd be very interested in seeing a detailed cost-breakdown on one of the more expensive boards - I just can't understand how they could possibly be valued so highly.
  • 4 Hide
    popatim , July 4, 2011 7:30 PM
    I would have liked to see how these perform as an HTPC. Can the handle BD at 1080i? How is websurfing? Can they place facebook games that my grandkids love... usefull things like that. We already know these cant game or handle intensive apps so why waste time benching these...
    Perhaps a future article.
  • 1 Hide
    boggie6868 , July 4, 2011 9:02 PM
    Nice round up!!

    I really would love to use the AMD APUs for a lower power server application.

    Only problem is that the boards are all 4x PCIE and single nic. Come on! Let see something with dual nics and 8x PCIE.

    Yea yea yea Llano here now, but hell I've love to have an E-350 with a board like this. Its all about the power consumption baby!
  • 0 Hide
    GaMEChld , July 4, 2011 9:24 PM
    silverblueTrinity and Komodo are both Enhanced Bulldozer. As such, Trinity will not be using Zambezi cores.


    The name "enhanced" Bulldozer had me guessing. I wasn't sure if the cores would actually be different in Trinity, or if it was the same BD cores "enhanced" with graphics. Did you read anything more detailed on it?
  • 0 Hide
    GaMEChld , July 4, 2011 9:26 PM
    jsowocDoes anyone else feel the performance graphs would be more meaningful with a typical Atom and a cheap Athlon X2 as points of reference?


    Well I always appreciate more data, so yes.
  • 3 Hide
    silverblue , July 4, 2011 9:33 PM
    Here's a helpful document...

    http://phx.corporate-ir.net/External.File?item=UGFyZW50SUQ9Njk3NDJ8Q2hpbGRJRD0tMXxUeXBlPTM=&t=1
  • 1 Hide
    GaMEChld , July 4, 2011 9:36 PM
    silverblueHere's a helpful document...http://phx.corporate-ir.net/Extern [...] BlPTM=&t=1

    VERY nice find!
Display more comments
React To This Article