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

ASRock E350M1/USB3

High-value performance appears to be ASRock’s goal in its E350M1-USB3, with nothing more than a pair of USB 3.0 ports separating it from more basic designs. The board still includes a four-lane PCIe x16 slot however, which could give some entry-level gamers hope for a low-cost upgrade (providing they're willing to give up the compact form-factor).

While some of ASRock’s competitors add a Wi-Fi card to their board’s mini PCIe slot, the E350M1/USB3 doesn’t even have mini PCIe connectivity. It does have HDMI however, and you can add your own USB 2.0-based Wi-Fi adapter relatively inexpensively.

In a market split between active and passive coolers, ASRock adds a 40 mm fan that keeps AMD’s E-350 APU cool under load. Proponents of silence might worry about the tiny-diameter cooler buzzing like a bee, but we’d rather have a little noise than throttling. Thermal testing will determine if any of its competitor’s passive cooling solutions are really up to the task.

Most mini-ITX cases have little room for add-in drives, so we’re not really disappointed in ASRock’s sparse selection of cables. Two of the motherboard’s four SATA connections are addressed, and that's probably plenty for most applications.

E350M1/USB3 Tuning

ASRock adds a 1.3% default overclock to the E-350 APU, likely in an effort to gain some advantage over competitors in benchmark tests. Several of its competitors have similar overclocks, and that makes it harder to single out one company for criticism. ASRock’s best performance advantage is probably its support for DDR3-1333 memory, shown in GPU-Z as a 667 MHz GPU memory clock.

We didn’t find any reference clock controls in ASRock’s UEFI, even though a relatively complete set of voltage levels were addressed. Higher-than-standard frequencies were limited to the optional DDR3-1333 DRAM ratio

ASRock allows users to save up to three custom configurations as user profiles, though this feature is less significant when when you take into consideration that overclocking is fundamentally unavailable.

DRAM timings are adjustable. The E350M1/USB3 defaults to its highest DDR3-1333 ratio and our memory’s default CAS 9 timings without requiring any manual adjustment, though.

  • 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