The focus of today's review
is the miniITX, 17cm square, Gigabyte GA-E350N-USB3 AMD Fusion motherboard. This platform is based on a dual-core netbook
processor from AMD called the AMD Fusion E-350 'Zacate' APU. The processor includes an entry level
Radeon HD6310 integrated graphics core with 80 shader processors that is clocked at 492MHz. The AMD E-350 is
itself a dual core processor that operates at 1.6GHz and contains 512KB of L2 Cache per core, for a
total of 1MB L2. The Gigabyte GA-E350N-USB3 motherboard is built around the AMD A50M (mobile) chipset
and offers up a lot of integration in addition
to USB 3.0.
The Gigabyte GA-E350N-USB3's embedded AMD E-350 APU draws just 18W of power and is comparable to an Intel Atom processor in terms of compute performance. The integrated AMD Radeon HD 6310 graphics is nothing to get excited about, but is DX11 compliant and does operate at a modest clock speed of 492MHz. The IGP can allocate up to 1024MB of memory from the systems' single channel DDR3-1066 DIMMs. The diminutive IGP features 80 Radeon Cores and will handle FPS games at very light resolutions, just barely. A single PCI Express 2.0 x16 expansion slot operating at x4 mode is available for discrete videocards and other devices like ATSC digital TV-tuners or 802.11n WiFi cards.
While the Radeon HD6310 can't play 3D FPS games at a
decent frame rate to save its life, as you'll shortly see in the
benchmarks, the integrated graphics solution does have the power to tackle high definition video
content and Blu-Ray playback at 1080p without issue.... and that my friends is why the little
Gigabyte GA-E350N-USB3 is worth paying attention to for the rest of this wonderfully detailed PCSTATS review!
Gigabyte GA-E350N-USB3 AMD Fusion Motherboard
User's Manual, Driver DVD, (2) SATA cables,
Chipset: AMD A50M 'Hudson-M1'
CPU Support: AMD E-350 APU 'Zacate'
Memory Type: Dual Channel
Videocard Support: (1)
PCI Express x16 2.0 slot
AMD Radeon HD 6310 (DX11)
PRICE: $130 USD/CDN
If you're like most geeks, a
platform like the GA-E350N-USB3 has one role and one role alone - playing 8.5GB MKV
movies at 1080p to the nearest HDTV over its built in HDMI port. Gigabyte's GA-E350N-USB3
will handle this easily enough, though it does push the 1.6GHz AMD
Fusion E-350N CPU load to maybe 30% - still plenty of headroom
for stutter-free playback.
In PCSTATS labs, the stock 720p
and 1080i HD test videos ran smoothly with maybe 9% and 15% CPU load, respectively.
If that kind of makes sense to you, all you have to know is
that the Gigabyte GA-E350N-USB3 is a good mediaPC/HTPC platform which is just
powerful enough for media playback over HDMI, with out excessive cooling
solutions and noise.
Video outputs: Analog VGA, DVI-D,
include Analog, DVI-D and HDMI (the latter two at 1920x1200 resolution).
The board supports 7.1 channel audio and is Dolby Home Theatre
compliant. Key to the Gigabyte GA-E350N-USB3 miniITX platform is the inclusion of
two USB 3.0 ports; this makes it a heck of a lot easier to transfer
massive .MKV files to the system's SATA III HDD/SSD, certainly faster than 10/1000 LAN.
Gigabyte's GA-E350N-USB3 board features
SATA III ports, eight native USB 2.0 ports and two USB 3.0 port. The boards' two
memory slots accommodate up to 8GB of single channel DDR3-1066/1333(OC) memory.
The board offers up one PCI Express 2.0 x16 slots at x4 mode. Around back there
are the usual assortment of USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports, a gigabit networking jack
and 7.1 channel audio outputs. Notably missing are any optical SP/DIF outputs or
a special place reserved for self contained Mini-ITX motherboards that merge CPU
GPU into one fantastic little 17x17cm bundle of joy.
Around the PCSTATS labs we've used these types of motherboards for firewalls, small
file servers, media PCs, Home Theatre PCs, music systems, you name it. Gigabyte have
even fashioned a complete computer system from the box the GA-E350N-USB3 ships in!
users will find the AMD
E-350 integrated graphics core better than competing Intel Atom IGPs. The
platform is quite capable for both HTPC and even very light general
computing tasks. The Gigabyte GA-E350N-USB3 miniITX motherboard can be found online for around a $130
AMD Fusion Platform - 'Brazos' and
There are three parts to
this AMD 'Brazos' platform spread
across two physical components; the AMD E-350 APU with its' integrated Radeon
HD6310 IGP, and the AMD A50M chipset. The AMD Fusion
platform is both an upgrade from previous IGP chipsets such as the AMD 890GX and
a complete departure from that era. The reason for that departure is the AMD A50M core
logic largely fulfills the role of southbridge chipset.
The AMD E-350 Fusion APU is built on the 40nm process
and is essentially a system-on-a-chip designed for Netbooks. The dual core
1.6GHz AMD E-350 (code name 'Zacate') BGA chip is soldered to the motherboard and
not upgradable. It has 512kb of L2 cache per core, runs on a 16x multiplier and
communicates with the AMD A50M southbridge over a 2.5GT/s UMI link. The platform
supports single channel DDR3-1066 memory, with overclocking this can be boosted to
E-350 APU (dual core, 1.6GHz and 492MHz Radeon HD6310
The AMD Fusion E-350 APU architecture
differs from previous AMD Athlon processors in that it integrates not only the memory
controller and northbridge onto the die, but also the integrated graphics processor. Consequently, the transistor count
has ballooned, but AMD was able to keep the processor package small thanks
to a 40nm die shrink.
AMD A50M 'Hudson-M1' FCH (Fusion
AMD A50M southbridge is built on the 65nm process and
supports six SATA III connections, up to (14) USB 2.0 devices, HD audio and
two PCI Express lanes. There is no RAID support, no integrated networking or
support for PCI devices.
AMD Radeon HD6310 IGP is particularly striped down;
built on the 40nm process, the core has 80 shader processors and operates at
492MHz. It has a pixel fill rate of 2GP/s, Texture fill rate of 4GT/s and
overall memory bandwidth of 8.5GB/s. The HD6310 IGP uses a 64-bit bus width and
is capable of 80 Gflops, at most. The IGP is DX11, OpenGL 4.0, OpenCL 1.1 and
UVD3 compliant, it supports three display outputs.
Here's a chart comparing
the AMD A50M and E-350 APU (mobile AMD Vision platform) against the AMD A75
chipset and A8-3850 APU (desktop AMD Vision platform) so you can get a better sense of
where the Gigabyte GA-E350N-USB3 platform slots in.
|AMD Fusion Platform|
(with E-350 APU)
(with A8-3850 APU)
|AMD 890GX |
||Socket BGA-413 (soldered)
||Fusion E-350 (40nm)
|Fusion A8-3850 (32nm)
||1.6GHz / 2Core, 2Thread
||2.9GHz / 4Core, 4 Thread
|| 18W TDP
| Bus Interface
||2.6GHz HT 3.0|
|Memory Support (dual
AMD Radeon HD 6310
AMD Radeon HD 6550D*
|Radeon HD 4290|
|Integrated Graphics Video
||80 Shaders / 492MHz
||400 Shaders / 600MHz*
||DX11, OpenGL4.1, OpenCL1.1
|PCI Express 2.0 Lanes
||4 + 2
||4 + 20*
| SATA 6Gb/s
|| 6 |
||0, 1, 10
||0, 1, 10|
|USB 3.0 Ports
|USB 2.0 Ports
Here we have the block diagram for this particular
Next up, a
360 degree look at the Gigabyte GA-E350N-USB3 motherboard, then it's onto
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