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

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.

Comments closed
    • evilpaul
    • 9 years ago

    So does Brazos have any overclocking potential? I realize its focus is low power usage, but an extra 500Mhz in a nettop type setup would be nice.

    • Delphis
    • 9 years ago

    for ITX boards, PIcoPSUs rock. Google for mini-box and picopsu. 18W idle (including fan) for my dual core Atom system (Intel D510MO) I’m building. Using a crappy no-name brand 300W ATX psu for testing the board before the Pico arrived, the same board measured 36W from the Kill-A-Watt.

    • SixIron
    • 9 years ago

    Upon seeing the picture of this motherboard, the first thing the eye sees is the heatsink/fan. It made me have a flashback, I initially thought I was looking at a Pentium II/Celeron Slot 1 cooler.

    • NeronetFi
    • 9 years ago

    I am looking forward to a full review on this 🙂

    • rekta
    • 9 years ago

    42W-45W on idle? For real?

    So, does anybody know when these motherboards be on sale in the US?

    • jdaven
    • 9 years ago

    The HSF looks almost like the ones I use to buy for Slot 1/A CPU’s. Lol!

    Everytime I look at the pictures I have flashbacks to those good old slot days.

    • flip-mode
    • 9 years ago

    Also gotta wonder why this motherboard needs a P4 connector. The ATX connector alone should be enough.

      • Ruiner
      • 9 years ago

      Yeah, 24 pin no less.
      20-pin pico psu should do fine.

      • Kurotetsu
      • 9 years ago

      I seem to recall it being mentioned somewhere that you can overclock Zacate chips. Thats probably what the 4-pin plug is for. Though why you’d want to overclock this is beyond my understanding.

      • Duck
      • 9 years ago

      Because it makes the layout much easier. Just look at the picture and you can see the layout of P4 connector, thru the voltage regulators and on to the CPU. I would do the same thing if I was doing the PCB layout.

    • flip-mode
    • 9 years ago

    45 watts at idle is crazy. I’m typing this on a Dell Optiplex with a Core 2 Duo E8500 and a Radeon HD 2400 and 160 GB hard drive and this entire machine pulls 45 watts at idle, including the PSU fan and system fan.

    Gigabyte sucks.

    • eitje
    • 9 years ago

    22.5 dBA @ 3′ is a lot more than 0 dBA @ 3′. Fanless is the way and the light!

      • UberGerbil
      • 9 years ago

      Yeah, I think when I get my hands on one of these the first thing I’m gong to try is removing that whiny little fan and trying it in a case with decent airflow to see what the temp readings are.

        • Trymor
        • 9 years ago

        Crank on that sucker! We (I) wanna know if AMD has decent overheating protection on this chip. In fact, rip that sink outta there too!

    • BiffStroganoffsky
    • 9 years ago

    That HSF unit brings back memories of slot1 days. Looks like they found a use for the NOS in the warehouses.

    • GodsMadClown
    • 9 years ago

    What is “Dolby Home Theater certification” in this case? A modest amount of time on Google yielded little information that wasn’t marketing fluff. Is it DD live encoding, a certification about bluray passthrough or some (dubious) certification about the fidelity of the analog output.

      • DancinJack
      • 9 years ago

      [url<]http://www.dolby.com/professional/solutions/pc/dolby-home-theater-v4.html[/url<]

      • kvndoom
      • 9 years ago

      If I was a betting man, I’d put my money on it being nothing but a fancy marketing term for “crappy Realtek integrated audio.”

    • TheBowerbird
    • 9 years ago

    Question: I’m configuring a system for a friend who mainly uses her computer for Hulu, Netflix, and internetting. Would something like this be powerful enough not to seem horribly slow in a couple years, or should I just go ahead with the as-planned AMD Athlon II X3 system? I mean, are the performance setbacks for standard usage very bad? Would I save much money?

      • indeego
      • 9 years ago

      Definitely powerful enough. hell, systems three years ago should be powerful enough…

        • TheBowerbird
        • 9 years ago

        Thanks, and looking at those benchmarks, it does seem to fare just fine. I wonder what pricing will be?

          • UberGerbil
          • 9 years ago

          [quote=”Anandtech Final Words”<]For just over $100 you'll be able to buy a mini-ITX board with an E-350 that's faster than Atom, faster than ION and more feature rich than both. [/quote<] [url<]http://www.anandtech.com/show/4134/the-brazos-review-amds-e350-supplants-ion-for-miniitx[/url<] If she gets into gaming it could be a problem, and you are effectively limiting the upgrade path a bit (you could always drop something faster into that X3 system) but really, for the uses you describe, it should be plenty. The real reason to go this route, though, is the ITX formfactor (and power consumption). If she wants something really small and unobtrusive, that's going to swing the decision. Of course you could end up spending more on a nice mini-ITX case than you spend on the motherboard and CPU 😉

        • MadManOriginal
        • 9 years ago

        Yeah except 3 years ago we’re talking Core 2 or A64 x2s which are defintiely more powerful than this. The CPU here is comparable to an Atom, for GPU-acceleratable tasks it won’t seem as bad as an Atom but we’re still talking older P4-like performance. Will it be tolerable? Sure. But future-usable-ish (no such thing as future-proof)…not so much. For an ITX build that’s got some room to grow I’d rather look at a Core i3/i5 (1st gen) at least but of course those will run more money.

      • Trymor
      • 9 years ago

      $40 case (including power supply) if interested: [url<]http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811154091&nm_mc=OTC-Froogle&cm_mmc=OTC-Froogle-_-Cases+(Computer+Cases+-+ATX+Form)-_-APEX+(SUPERCASE/ALLIED)-_-11154091[/url<]

        • UberGerbil
        • 9 years ago

        Well, for a girl (stereotyping, I know) I was thinking more like [url=http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811112295&nm_mc=OTC-Froogle&cm_mmc=OTC-Froogle-_-Cases+(Computer+Cases+-+ATX+Form)-_-Lian-Li-_-11112295<]this[/url<].

          • Trymor
          • 9 years ago

          Damn, thats bright!

      • NeelyCam
      • 9 years ago

      The cases proposed by others look too large… I would seriously consider this instead:

      [url<]http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16856173012&Tpk=Zotac%20ZBOX%20HD-ND22[/url<] Tiny, cute, faster CPU than E-350, and ION handles graphics. I'd say perfect for Hulu/Netflix/browsing.

        • Trymor
        • 9 years ago

        Or he could just use a lawbook binder or something…heh.

      • Trymor
      • 9 years ago

      One thing that hasn’t been mentioned, and that is purely speculative, would be the ‘responsiveness’ of the system.

      “I saw the playback really struggle was when you would jump forward through the movie.” – review mentioned by Edgar_Wibeau.

      Not to mention, web video standards are always a changin, and, who knows? If ya want the headroom in case a boyfriend comes over to play games or something, think about an X3 system. Otherwise, small and quiet is great!

      • Trymor
      • 9 years ago

      If she plays Farmville or the like, X3.

      • Bensam123
      • 9 years ago

      If it’s anything like a Atom I’d look out for the ability to play 1080p content as well as blue-ray disks with competent frame rates. That would require more research in google and one of the reasons why I never bought one for family.

        • UberGerbil
        • 9 years ago

        Or you could just look at the Anandtech review I already linked.

    • DancinJack
    • 9 years ago

    Does Hudson even need a HSF? I think I read 2.5-5 W somewhere. Depending on the cost of HSF materials, it can’t hurt.

    • OneArmedScissor
    • 9 years ago

    “According to Gigabyte, the whole board draws 42-45W at idle…”

    *double face palm*

      • Edgar_Wibeau
      • 9 years ago

      Apparently even the board manufacturers do their “efficiency” testing with 1200W power supplies nowadays. What a bunch of … …. ….. can’t find words for that 🙁

      • NeelyCam
      • 9 years ago

      This [i<]has[/i<] to be a typo. The Brazos system from AMD's demo a while ago was idling at less than 20W, and they were saying optimization (e.g., better drivers) should bring that down. Or is this just horrible Gigabyte mobo design, with cheap but inefficient regulators?

        • UberGerbil
        • 9 years ago

        Yeah, I agree, that’s simply got to be an error — either in the numbers or in Gigabyte’s design. Heck, that’s too high even for power draw [i<]under load[/i<]. The MSI mini-ITX system [url=http://www.anandtech.com/show/4134/the-brazos-review-amds-e350-supplants-ion-for-miniitx/7<]that Anand reviewed[/url<] was essentially identical to this, and they got 24W at idle (and 33W at load). Maybe it's all that extra copper soaking up the juice... 😉

        • Trymor
        • 9 years ago

        Most likely meant 24 – 25? Although, 4.2 – 4.5 would be nice! But that sounds closer to ‘while sleeping’ lol.

        • Edgar_Wibeau
        • 9 years ago

        PSU’s efficiency ratings range from 20% to 100% load. The mainboard might well use 5W at idle, notebooks with 50Wh batteries idling for 10 hours (including display) suggest that this is not impossible at all. If you take a 500W 80+ PSU, its load is just 1%. And at 1%, its efficiency is not 80%, not 70, not 60, and maybe not even 50% or way below. 80+-ratings don’t say anything about loads below 20% of PSU’s max. Even if the board idles at 10W which would be a shame caused by onboard power regulators and such, this would mean that when 42W are measured at the wall outlet, the PSU’s efficiency at this 2% of its own maximum load has an efficiency of below 25%, so it quadruples the real power draw of the board.

        Simple as that.

        Here is such a review:
        [url<]http://www.tweaktown.com/articles/3819/gigabyte_e350n_usb3_fusion_benched_overclocked_and_examined/index10.html[/url<] A 1200W PSU, board idles at 41 Watts. Take a 70W Notebook PSU and you'll see the same board idling at maybe 10-15W. Apparently, Gigabyte PR is simply too dumb to figure this.

          • NeelyCam
          • 9 years ago

          Yep. This is exactly why any PSU over 800W should be disqualified from 80Plus program altogether.
          And this is also why PicoPSU will inherit the earth

            • Edgar_Wibeau
            • 9 years ago

            17W idle incl. 2.5″ 320GB HDD, 4GB ram measured here:
            [url<]http://geizhals.at/eu/?sr=610927,-1,6340524#6340524[/url<] translated: 1 W when switched off (soft-off I guess) 17 W while idle 28 W under load at wall outlet, using a 75W PSU including hard disk All for the ASRock board, not Gigabyte, of course.

            • NeelyCam
            • 9 years ago

            Very nice. What’s the 75W PSU?

          • Trymor
          • 9 years ago

          “Simple as that.” – An answer that makes great sense, whaddayaknow 😉

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This