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

Value Conclusion

Our eight E-350 motherboard samples fall into two performance classes: those that support DDR3-1333 and those stuck at DDR3-1066. There are also three levels of on-board features we could use to split these platforms up. Of these, only Asus gives us the best of everything, including capabilities and performance.

The FUSION350-A-E is next in line for features, but its $15 price savings compared to the E35M1-I Deluxe is more than offset by its lack of Bluetooth and overclocking capability. Better value can only be had from Zotac by users who never overclock or use Bluetooth to interface portable devices.

Sapphire removes the wireless capability presented by Zotac and instead fits the IPC-E350M1 with a Bluetooth interface of similar value. Sapphire also excludes front-panel USB 3.0, however, sacrificing any value victory it might have otherwise had over its chief rival.

Gigabyte gives up Bluetooth compared to Sapphire, but adds overclocking support to its E350N-USB3. DDR3-1333 also boosts the E350N-USB3’s gaming performance, though not enough to make it a viable gaming solution. Features are usually worth more than overclocking to the low-power compact PC markets, so Sapphire's position is secure.

Placing durability before features, Jetway’s IPC-market solution is best reserved for harsher climates, such as automotive entertainment systems. The NC85-E350-LF loses USB 3.0 compared to Gigabyte, but unfortunately gives up nothing in price.

The lower-price segment looks even better, with ASRock’s E350M1/USB3 coming in at a super-value $110. Already leading Foxconn in price, it delivers a death blow by supporting USB 3.0, eSATA, and twice as many internal drives as its similarly-priced rival.

Price separation and current availability gives us three winners (ASRock, Sapphire, and Asus) for three different types of buyers. While we aren't quite ready to hand any of these entry-level platforms an award, we are comfortable singling their strengths out for special recognition.

ECS is unfortunately left out of our final analysis due to lack of availability.

  • gameworm
    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.
    Reply
  • vaughn2k
    Wow! AS-rocks!
    Reply
  • noob2222
    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.
    Reply
  • Mathos
    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.
    Reply
  • noob2222
    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.
    Reply
  • BulkZerker
    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.
    Reply
  • cangelini
    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
    Reply
  • GaMEChld
    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.
    Reply
  • silverblue
    Trinity and Komodo are both Enhanced Bulldozer. As such, Trinity will not be using Zambezi cores.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply