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

The Brazos Round-Up: Eight AMD E-350-Based Motherboards
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AMD’s Brazos platform, driven by the Zacate APU, offers a lot of performance per watt. It comes up short on features, though. Eight manufacturers try to change that perception by adding slots, controllers, and even overclocking in a couple of cases.

Buying a low-cost, high-efficiency platform is kind of like choosing a cable package. For a few dollars more you can always get a killer feature that you really want. But then it seems like the features that are still missing really aren’t that much more expensive. It's a clever scheme to keep you constantly thinking about the next-best thing just a few dollars up the ladder.

You might face the same sticky decision when it comes time to shop for that inexpensive PC: go for the budget gold, or spend a few extra dollars on a faster processor (and then a few more dollars on a better graphics card, and a bit more on more memory, and...it really never ends). But AMD is hoping that its Brazos platform gives you enough compute horsepower, enough graphics performance, and enough value to squelch that never-ending desire to push just a little bit further. If you want a solid idea of what the platform includes, check out ASRock's E350M1: AMD's Brazos Platform Hits The Desktop First.

Today we have eight different Brazos-based platforms, priced from $115 to $175. If you're dead set on saving money, one of these setups should be able to satisfy you. Now it's time to figure out which tier in this little sub-market serves up the best value.

E350 Fusion Motherboard Features
 ASRock
E350M1/USB3
Asus
E35M1-I Deluxe
ECS
HDC-I
Foxconn
AHD1S-K
PCB Revision1.001.011.01.0
CPUAMD E-350 APUAMD E-350 APUAMD E-350 APUAMD E-350 APU
ChipsetAMD A50M FCHAMD A50 FCHAMD A50M FCHAMD Hudson D1
BIOSP1.20 (02/24/2011)0902 (04/15/2011)4.6.4 (03/24/2011)A931022 (04/19/2011)
100.0 MHz Clock101.3 (+1.30%)100.0 (+0.0%)101.9 (+1.9%)100.0 (+0.0%)
Internal Interfaces
PCIe x161 (x4-mode)1 (x4-mode)1 (x4-mode)1 (x4-mode)
PCIe x1/x4None1x mini PCIe (Filled)1x mini PCIe (Filled)None
Legacy PCINoneNoneNoneNone
USB 2.02 (4-ports)2 (4-ports)2 (4-ports)2 (4-ports)
USB 3.0None1 (2-ports)NoneNone
IEEE-1394NoneNoneNoneNone
Serial Port1NoneNone1
Parallel PortNoneNoneNoneNone
FloppyNoneNoneNoneNone
Ultra-ATA 133NoneNoneNoneNone
SATA 6.0 Gb/s4542
SATA 3.0 Gb/sNoneNoneNoneNone
4-Pin Fan1None12
3-Pin Fan121None
FP-Audio1111
CD-AudioNoneNoneNoneNone
S/PDIF I/ONoneOutput OnlyOutput OnlyOutput Only
I/O Panel Connectors
P/S 211None1
USB 2.04266
USB 3.0242None
IEEE-1394NoneNoneNoneNone
Network1111
eSATA111None
Digital Audio OutOptical OnlyOptical OnlyOptical OnlyNone
Digital Audio InNoneNoneNoneNone
Analog Audio5353
Video OutDVI-D, VGA, HDMIDVI-I, HDMIDVI-D, VGA, HDMIDVI-D, VGA, HDMI
Other DevicesNoneBluetooth Transceiver
802.11n Antennas
Bluetooth Transceiver
None
Mass Storage Controllers
Chipset SATA4x SATA 6Gb/s
1x eSATA 6Gb/s
4x SATA 6Gb/s
1x eSATA 6Gb/s
4x SATA 6Gb/s
1x eSATA 6Gb/s
2x SATA 3Gb/s
Chipset RAID ModesNoneNoneNoneNone
Add-In SATANoneNoneNoneNone
USB 3.0EJ168A PCIe2x D720200F1 PCIeASM1042 PCIeNone
IEEE-1394NoneNoneNoneNone
Networking
Gigabit LANRTL8111E PCIeRTL8111E PCIeAR8151 PCIeRTL8111E PCIe
Wireless LANNoneAR9285 PCIeRTL8188CE PCIeNone
Wireless PANNoneAR3011 USB 2.0AR3011 USB 2.0None
Audio
HD Audio CodecALC892ALC892VT1708BALC662
DDL/DTS ConnectUnspecifiedUnspecifiedDTS ConnectUnspecified


E350 Fusion Motherboard Features
 Gigabyte
E350N-USB3
Jetway
NC85-E350-LF
Sapphire Pure
Fusion Mini E350
Zotac
FUSION350-A-E
PCB Revision1.02.01.0Unspecified
CPUAMD E-350 APUAMD E-350 APUAMD E-350 APUAMD E-350 APU
ChipsetAMD A50M FCHAMD Hudson-D1 FCHAMD A50M FCHAMD A50M FCH
BIOSF2c (03/15/2011)A02 (04/14/2011)
0.31 (05/13/2011)1.01 (04/18/2011)
100.0 MHz Clock100.0 (+0.0%)101.4(+1.4%)101.4(+1.4%)101.4(+1.4%)
Internal Interfaces
PCIe x161 (x4-mode)None1 (x4-mode)1 (x4-mode)
PCIe x1/x4None1x mini PCIe (Empty)1x mini PCIe (Empty)1x mini PCIe (Filled)
1x x4 (Open for x16)
Legacy PCINone1NoneNone
USB 2.02 (4-ports)2 (4-ports)2 (4-ports)1 (2-ports)
USB 3.0NoneNoneNone1 (2-ports)
IEEE-1394NoneNoneNoneNone
Serial PortNone111
Parallel PortNoneNoneNoneNone
FloppyNoneNoneNoneNone
Ultra-ATA 133NoneNoneNoneNone
SATA 6.0 Gb/s4454
SATA 3.0 Gb/sNoneNoneNoneNone
4-Pin FanNone1None2
3-Pin Fan221None
FP-Audio1111
CD-AudioNoneNoneNoneNone
S/PDIF I/OOutput OnlyNoneBothOutput Only
I/O Panel Connectors
P/S 211None1
USB 2.04644
USB 3.02None22
IEEE-1394NoneNoneNoneNone
Network1111
eSATANoneNone11
Digital Audio OutOptical OnlyNoneOptical OnlyOptical Only
Digital Audio InNoneNoneNoneNone
Analog Audio6355
Video OutDVI-D, VGA, HDMIDVI-D, VGA, HDMIDVI-D, VGA, HDMIDVI-I, HDMI
DisplayPort
Other DevicesNoneNoneBluetooth Transceiver
802.11n Antennas
Mass Storage Controllers
Chipset SATA4x SATA 6Gb/s
1x eSATA 6Gb/s
4x SATA 3Gb/s5x SATA 6Gb/s
1x eSATA 3Gb/s
4x SATA 6Gb/s
1x eSATA 6Gb/s
Chipset RAID ModesNoneNoneNoneNone
Add-In SATANoneNoneNoneNone
USB 3.0D720200F1 PCIeNoneD720200F1 PCIeVL800-08 PCIe
IEEE-1394NoneNoneNoneNone
Networking
Gigabit LANRTL8111E PCIeRTL8111E PCIe88E8057 PCIeRTL8111E PCIe
Wireless LANNoneNoneNoneAR9285 PCIe
Wireless PANNoneNoneAR3011 USB 2.0None
Audio
HD Audio CodecALC892VT1705 PCIeALC892ALC892
DDL/DTS ConnectUnspecifiedUnspecifiedUnspecifiedUnspecified
Display 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!
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