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Gigabyte E350N-USB 3 Review

Rating: 8.5.

AMD’s latest Brazos Platform has proven popular over recent months, with many users adopting a secondary low powered system for general, light duties or as the foundation of a high definition media center. Today we are looking at the Gigabyte E350N USB 3 motherboard which is built to the high standards we would expect from Gigabyte.

We have already looked at Fusion products over the last three or four months, but it is always interesting to see the differences between manufacturers products. Just in case you haven’t been following this platform in 2011 a brief recap is in order.

An APU is AMD’s term to describe the latest evolution of their CPU. CPU’s have been consistently developing over the years and I can remember when the maths co-processor was integrated into the main chip in the 1990’s. AMD then integrated the memory controller into AMD64 architecture around 2002/2003. Fast forward several years and Intel managed to get the PCI-E controller built into the Lynnfield architecture in 2009. This year we have seen AMD and Intel build the graphics chip into the same die as the CPU with Sandy Bridge processors and AMD’s Brazos APU’s.

APU stands for Accelerated Processing Unit and although the CPU and GPU are classed as two different parts of the chip they do reside on the same piece of silicon. AMD have ditched their longer naming conventions and are marketing them as C-30, C-50, E-240 and E-250. You can’t buy a retail E-350 in a store, so there is no need for a retail ‘name’. The AMD APU’s are soldered to the PCB meaning you have to buy the complete board to get access to the APU. Current pricing ranges from £80 to £120 for the motherboard and APU, so its not an expensive outlay.

The E350 is a dual core 1.6ghz chip with 1MB of Level 2 cache shared between them and an integrated 492mhz DirectX 11 capable Radeon chip – called the HD 6310. This is basically an HD5450 with 80 VLIW-5 stream processors and single channel DDR3 memory. While it doesn’t sound like much on paper, it reality it is a nice upgrade from the integrated graphics of AMD 700 and 800 series chipsets with 40 VLIW 5 stream processors.

As this is aimed at high definition media enthusiast users, AMD bundle their latest UVD 3 technology, with support for HDMI 1.4a which provides plenty of bandwidth. The platform supports a plethora of output devices, such as DVI, VGA and HDMI.

Specifications:

  • AMD Dual-Core Zacate E-350 APU
  • Solid Capacitor for CPU power
  • Supports DDR3 1066, 2 DIMM slots, Max. capacity up to 16GB
  • Integrated AMD Radeon HD 6310 graphics, DX11 class iGPU, Pixel Shader 5.0
  • 1 x PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot
  • Multi VGA Output options: D-Sub, DVI-D and HDMI
  • 4 x SATA3 connectors
  • 7.1 CH HD Audio with Content Protection (Realtek ALC892 Audio Codec), Premium Blu-ray audio support

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