On Tuesday, AMD formally revealed that its low-power Kabini APU is heading to the desktop in socketed form. We actually got our first glimpse of desktop Kabini boards at CES earlier this year. Now that the platform is official, additional motherboards are coming out of the woodwork. The latest are Asus' AM1M-A and AM1I-A, which deploy Kabini's FS1b socket on microATX and Mini-ITX boards, respectively.
The boards are similar overall, but there's a big difference in PCIe configs. The microATX model has a physical x16 slot and two x1s, while the Mini-ITX one is limited to an open-ended x4 slot. Kabini has only four lanes of Gen2 connectivity, so the micro board doesn't have more device bandwidth—just support for additional expansion cards. Both boards will have to share the SoC's PCIe lanes with their Realtek Gigabit Ethernet controllers, as well.
Dual DDR3 DIMM slots are available regardless of the form factor, but again, the platform gets in the way a little. Kabini has only one memory channel, so don't get your hopes up about supplying the integrated Radeon with extra bandwidth. The SoC has a decent storage controller, though. Its dual 6Gbps SATA ports are faster than the 3Gbps storage on Intel's comparable Bay Trail chip.
Asus' AM1 boards tap both of Kabini's SATA ports, and they also exploit its USB 3.0 connectivity. Each board has a couple of SuperSpeed jacks at the rear, while the microATX variant adds an internal header for two more.
Video outputs include DVI and HDMI, which should be sufficient for basic desktops and home-theater PCs. Too bad a digital S/PDIF audio output and wireless connectivity didn't make the cut. Asus did, however, add some of its own special sauce to the package, including a graphical firmware interface, the latest AI Suite tweaking utility, and USB Boost software. You also get digital VRMs and solid-state capacitors—perks one might not expect on a lower-end platform.
We don't have prices for Asus' desktop Kabini boards just yet, but we expect to see them selling in April. I'm curious to see how they fare against comparable Bay Trail products, especially with casual games at 1080p.
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