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Sapphire Pure Fusion Mini E350 APU Mainboard Review

ajmatson    -   February 23, 2011
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Conclusion:

What can I say but wow! I went into this review with an open mind and was very pleasantly surprised. As a long time Intel Atom user I have grown accustomed to the low power platform's limitations on what it could and couldn't accomplish. Even being paired with the NVIDIA ION in some of my boards, there were still some things I could not do. During some HD playback, it would stutter every once in a while and even light gaming was a challenge to get by. The AMD Fusion APU definitely put those issues to rest. Not once did the video playback struggle. In fact, I watched the whole Saving Private Ryan 720p video while the APU system was plugged into my HD TV using the HDMI output and I forgot it was running off of the computer so much so that when it was over, I tried turning off my Blu-ray player. Even the gaming benchmarks that were tested were somewhat playable on the lowest resolution which is surprising considering the small size of the platform.

I was kind of bummed about not being able to overclock the system but the stock power was pleasing none the less. The integrated USB 3.0 and SATA III ports are a nice addition since the industry is slowly moving towards the higher speeds as mainstream. I also appreciated the integrated Bluetooth which is nice because you can use Bluetooth keyboards and remotes for this system as an HTPC platform. I was surprised that there was no integrated Wi-Fi card or even an antenna mount. Even the lowest-end boards on the market include integrated Wi-Fi. Even a mounting hole on the back plate would have made the difference so the user could add their own Wi-Fi card without having to modify their case or the back plate. Lastly, I wanted to point out something that is a pro and a con at the same time. The use of SO-DIMM memory has its perks with taking up less space than traditional modules and produces less heat but it is harder to come by as not everyone has laptop memory laying around their house. While not a big drawback that's the reason I included it in both categories.

The Fusion APU while still new, is definitely a big contender on the block. The Atom processor has been the big man on campus with low power systems, HTPCs and netbooks but now with the release of the AMD Fusion APU, I would not be surprised to see a shift in brands for mobile and low power systems. Sapphire did an excellent job of tying in this new processor technology with the features we want and need for the perfect low power platform of the future.

 

Pros:

  • Integrated Fusion APU
  • USB 3.0 support
  • SATA III 6.0Gbp/s ports
  • Integrated Bluetooth 2.1 +EDR
  • Full size PCI Express x16 slot
  • Mini PCI Express x1 slot
  • Onboard POST LED
  • SO-DIMM Memory

 

Cons:

  • No included Wi-Fi module or Antenna mount
  • SO-DIMM Memory
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