We take a closer look at Gigabyte's Mini-ITX Fusion mobo


— 10:48 AM on February 10, 2011

Well, what do we have here? Gigabyte has sent us a preview sample of its upcoming E350N-USB3 motherboard, a slick little Mini-ITX design that features AMD's new Zacate accelerated processing unit. We actually caught a glimpse at this board during the Consumer Electronics Show last month, but this time, we got to pick it apart—and Gigabyte provided some additional details, as well.

The E350N-USB3 includes an AMD E-350 processor with integrated Radeon HD 6310 graphics, the fastest member of the Zacate family. There's one physical PCI Express x16 slot with four lanes of connectivity, four 6Gbps Serial ATA ports, two DDR3-1333 DIMM slots, and a Realtek ALC892 audio codec with Dolby Home Theater certification. Lifting the heatsink reveals the Zacate chip and its companion I/O hub, which has an even tinier die.

In January, I commented that the tiny fan on the board's heatsink might generate an annoying whine. I haven't had time to test this board just yet, but Gigabyte tells us the fan has a maximum noise output of 22.5 dBA at a distance of three feet—fairly quiet, in other words. There isn't that much cooling work to be done, either. According to Gigabyte, the whole board draws 42-45W at idle and 53-57W under a multi-threaded Cinebench load.

On the connectivity front, the E350N-USB3 has four USB 2.0 ports (with onboard pin-outs for another four), two USB 3.0 ports, optical S/PDIF audio output, Gigabit Ethernet, and VGA, DVI, and HDMI display outputs.

Gigabyte boasts about some other extras, too. Among those are triple USB power, which enables quicker charging of iPhones, iPads, and iPods; dual BIOSes; a circuit board with a double dose of copper for "reduced temperature around critical onboard components" and better signal quality; and a feature called AutoGreen, which can put the PC to sleep when a specially paired Bluetooth device goes out of range. The PC is supposed to wake back up when the device comes within range again.

If you're eager to see some Zacate benchmarks, you'll want to check our preview article... and stay tuned. We're in the process of completing a full-blown review of the production Brazos platform, albeit with a different board.

   
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