ECS Mini-ITX motherboards feature Kabini APUs

Almost a month has passed since the release of AMD’s Kabini APUs. It’s about time we saw some Mini-ITX motherboards featuring the new chips, wouldn’t you say?

Well, ECS has obliged. Earlier this week, the Taiwanese motherboard maker introduced two Mini-ITX mobos with Kabini APUs soldered on. Say hello to the KBN-I series. (Do you see what ECS did there?)

The faster of the two is the KBN-I/5200, which sports AMD’s A6-5200 with Radeon HD 8400 integrated graphics—the flagship of the Kabini fleet. Expansion is provided by one PCI Express x16 (with four four lanes of gen-two bandwidth) and two Mini-PCIe slots. The dual DIMM slots are full-sized and can accommodate up to 32GB of RAM. On the connectivity front, the board has dual 6Gbps SATA, dual USB 3.0, HDMI, Gigabit Ethernet, and other miscellaneous ports and connectors, including a serial port for commercial applications.

The KBN-I/5200’S processor has a 25W power envelope, which is why ECS has strapped a little fan to the cooler. If fanless computing is more up your alley, there’s a board for that: the KBN-I/2100, which is powered by the 9W E1-2100 with Radeon HD 8210 integrated graphics. That mobo otherwise has all of the same features as its sibling, from the dual Mini-PCIe slots to the copy of Norton AntiVirus inexplicably offered on the driver CD. The only difference is the slower chip and the heatsink, which is larger and lacks a fan.

See the gallery below for pictures of both boards.

Comments closed
    • DeadOfKnight
    • 6 years ago

    Yeah, yeah…we’ve seen these already. I want to see the convertible tablets AMD. Get this in a VivoTab and everyone’s getting one for the holidays. If you make me wait much longer then you’ll probably lose me to Intel’s next Atom.

    • MildaNee05
    • 6 years ago
    • Anonymous Coward
    • 6 years ago

    Its impossible for me to get excited about the E1-2100.

    • Bensam123
    • 6 years ago

    Those VGA and serial ports are like boils on someones ass. They really need to be lanced.

    Although this may be used for integrated applications, so they may still be applicable ( a lot of industrial equipment uses serial still). It’s sorta weird they wouldn’t add a parallel though if that’s their target…

      • Airmantharp
      • 6 years ago

      I kept wondering, ‘where’s DVI or DisplayPort’?

      I mean, did they really intend to limit it to 1080p without a discrete GPU? But I’m guessing there are divergent uses for such a board, and industrial compatibility wins out over high resolution display capability.

        • smilingcrow
        • 6 years ago

        DVI tends to be single link with integrated graphics but as this is AMD maybe it’s dual link.

          • Airmantharp
          • 6 years ago

          Intel *just* started shipping their integrated stuff dual-link capable, but since this board has no DVI at all, we’d have to look somewhere else for that answer. Not having DVI or DisplayPort precludes this board interfacing with a 1440p/1600p/4k display without an adapter card. And that’s sad, cause I’d want something else in that slot, like a CableCard :).

          • Bensam123
          • 6 years ago

          I haven’t seen a device that outputs single link DVI in years… Actually I never recall seeing one. I’ve only seen single link DVI cables and monitors like that.

        • bthylafh
        • 6 years ago

        Maximum resolution over HDMI depends on which version of HDMI is supported. 1.3 and newer can do at least 2560ร—1600p.

          • Airmantharp
          • 6 years ago

          The monitors/TVs have to support that too though. That’s the problem!

            • demani
            • 6 years ago

            HDMI to DVI adapters are dirt cheap. HDMI = compact DVI in most cases like this. Because they need to save room for the VGA port.

            But my HTPC has a DVI port that I have adapted to HDMI, and then a 30′ HDMI-DVI cable runs to the monitor in my room. The HDMI let me go with a much smaller hole in the wall. (I have audio coming through as a Zone 2 from the receiver, and it lets us watch the same thing in two rooms with everything synced up).

            • Airmantharp
            • 6 years ago

            Of this we’re aware- but HDMI represents only single-link DVI, thus limiting the maximum output resolution. Had that single port been dual-link DVI and a ~$0.50 adapter been thrown in the box, the board could output fully to any shipping computer monitor.

            • MadManOriginal
            • 6 years ago

            HDMI 1.4 supports ‘4k’ (3840×2160 @ up to 30Hz) [url<]http://www.hdmi.org/manufacturer/hdmi_1_4/4K.aspx[/url<] so it's not necessarily just equal to single link DVI. (Depending on implementation HDMI can also support 2560-1600 @ 60Hz....same as a typical dual link DVI)

            • Airmantharp
            • 6 years ago

            Yup; but implementation matters, and you’d likely not want to run less than 60Hz for a desktop machine. 24Hz can obviously work for media, but it’s still quite silly that this thing only has a single HDMI port instead of a dual-link DVI port.

            • Goty
            • 6 years ago

            Considering that is seems to be aimed at embedded-type applications, it’s not silly at all.

            • Airmantharp
            • 6 years ago

            Because the ability to run high-resolution displays and HDMI displays through an adapted DVI port is silly?

            I don’t get your logic, only your trolling.

    • yokem55
    • 6 years ago

    Add a second Gig/E port and I’m sold. Would make an awesome router/file server/XBMC box. Might be able to get away with a usb ethernet adapter, but that would be less than ideal…

      • bthylafh
      • 6 years ago

      Most people aren’t going to want that feature, so that’s what you should be using the PCIe slot for.

      Inevitably, whenever a product is introduced, someone will say “I’d buy it if you added x or dropped the price by y” even when there’s no real reason for the maker to do so.

        • Bensam123
        • 6 years ago

        Honestly, I think this is one of the points where a second gig port WOULD make sense. You aren’t going to use a server for a router, but something like this you definitely could.

    • pedro
    • 6 years ago

    Put a parallel port on that bad boy and I’m sold. And I know a lot of geeks are in the same boat. Do you hear us ECS? We want a parallel port (or two) dammit!

      • MadManOriginal
      • 6 years ago

      It looks like ECS anticipated your legacy desires. The row of pins behind the PS/2 and USB connectors has ‘LPT’ silkscreened next to it, so if that’s correct it means you just need a parallel port header cable.

        • Celess
        • 6 years ago

        I thought you were kidding. It does look like it says LTP.

      • bthylafh
      • 6 years ago

      0.o

      No, I really doubt that many people are going to plug a Laserjet 4 into a brand-new computer.

      • Bensam123
      • 6 years ago

      ROFL, total troll… >>

        • MadManOriginal
        • 6 years ago

        Takes one to know one? :p

    • DarkMikaru
    • 6 years ago

    Almost but no cigar. I’m currently using the following and I love it! 2 Sata is just not enough!

    [url<]http://www.asus.com/Motherboards/C60M1I/[/url<] With its 9w CPU & 6 Sata 3Gbs ports it was perfect for my home Theater / File Server PC. Hulu, Youtube streaming works just fine. However I think I'll upgrade the board to something with a little more oomph when available. As the poor C60 chokes on XBMC, Plex, Windows Media Center, ect. which keeps it from truly presenting a full HTPC experience. But as a file server, streamer you just can't go wrong. With 6 WD Green Drives this thing idles as just 26watts! So hopefully Kabini can be a viable upgrade.

      • Ethyriel
      • 6 years ago

      You can more than likely throw a controller in that PCI-E slot.

        • MadManOriginal
        • 6 years ago

        Yeah, and to add a decent number of ports you might spend about 75% of the board cost.

          • Deanjo
          • 6 years ago

          Considering you can get 6 port pci-e softraid cards for $20 I highly doubt it.

            • MadManOriginal
            • 6 years ago

            I can’t find anything with 6+ SATA ports for nearly that price. Link?

            Since last time I really looked hard, it seems that inexpensive 4-port cards have come down a decent amount, I guess some new controller chips came out which enabled them. Still, you have to be dumb to argue that add-on cards are a better solution than enabling all the SATA ports already built in to the chipset.

            • raddude9
            • 6 years ago

            Being a SOC, I think Kabini supports just 2 6Gbps SATA ports, so it’s not like ECS are not enabling all the SATA ports. It’s probably a power consumption thing.

            • MadManOriginal
            • 6 years ago

            Oooh yeah, good call! So because of that, Kabini and Temash aren’t full successors to Brazos because they lack all the flexibility that platform had. Maybe one of the mobo manufacturers will be gutsy and add a SATA controller hung off the PCIe lanes, instead of mSATA slots like this board. Otherwise for a low power storage server an add-on card will be necessary.

            • raddude9
            • 6 years ago

            Looks like Sapphire had the guts:

            [url<]http://www.eteknix.com/computex-sapphire-shows-off-amd-kabini-soc-mini-itx-motherboard/[/url<] Their Kabini board has four SATA III 6Gbps ports, but one mini PCI-e slot instead of the two on this board.

            • Airmantharp
            • 6 years ago

            That site needs a photo editor!

            /my-god(s)-I-am-a-photography-geek

            • NeelyCam
            • 6 years ago

            I think 2 SATA ports is pretty great for most applications where you’d use this thing (like a HTPC). One for an SSD, one for a HDD.

            EDIT: let me take that back a little bit; a third one for a BluRay drive/burner would be great.

            • raddude9
            • 6 years ago

            You could always get one of these:

            [url<]http://www.amazon.com/PM362-SATA-Mini-PCIe-Adapter/dp/B008I74468[/url<] It's about twice as expensive than a full size PCI-e card, but it looks like a handy way to get some extra SATA ports.

        • DarkMikaru
        • 6 years ago

        Unfortunately I am way ahead of ya man. The one PCI-E port that is available in the Asus C60M had to be used for a Sapphire Radeon HD5450 video card. I had purchased a DVI to HDMI cable and it didn’t work out to well. Screen resolution was cropped off & no audio was available which was a deal breaker.

        I’d like to add a Blu-Ray drive eventually but it seems the only way to get around that is remove one of my 6 drives, which, again.. is a deal breaker. Don’t get me wrong… i love this little board, its perfect for what I want it to do and it fit my budget. As I am not a big movie watcher not having a blu-ray drive is fine for now.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 6 years ago

      I agree that’s a great motherboard, hopefully Asus follow up on it with a 15W Kabini version that’s still passive. Small fans make this kind of board sooo much less appealing. (Asus had the same motherboard with an E-350 instead of C-60 but stopped making it when the C-60 came out…same silicon, just that C-60 has a base/turbo clock for the CPU and much downclocked GPU)

      *Well derp, there is a passive version pictured in the gallery. Still the same board layout though, needs more SATA.

        • Farting Bob
        • 6 years ago

        Ive got a passive ASUS e-350, back when it was new and it was pretty much the only passively cooled one you could get. Chips this small and low powered are borderline on passively cooling. Generally if your case has good airflow it’ll be fine, but motherboard makers don’t want to risk you putting it on a case without adequate cooling and ruining the chip/board and then blaming them. So they play it safe and stick a tiny whiring fan on there to annoy people with.

          • willmore
          • 6 years ago

          I’ve got a passively cooled ECS HDC-I2. It’s rattling around in a big case with sufficient airflow and I can get it up to 80C by running Prime95, so there’s something to your idea that they tend to put fans on them for the case that some idiot user stuffs them in a box with inadequate airflow–and then tries to transcode video or something They could always do something smart like make the fan for ‘panic mode’ only–it doesn’t kick in until the CPU gets to within 10C of max Tjunction. More as a safety measure than a normal operating mode.

          • NeelyCam
          • 6 years ago

          One option would be to take out that cooler/fan, and put in a big-ass CPU cooler designed for passive cooling. For a chip with such a low TDP, it would be more than adequate. My passive Clarkdale rig is still going strong with a significantly higher TDP (of course, the case is also larger)

            • willmore
            • 6 years ago

            I’m guessing the hard part would be that there isn’t any standard mounting setup for these soldered on chips. But, hey, I’ve got a drill press and a tap-and-die set. ๐Ÿ˜‰

        • willmore
        • 6 years ago

        And cowbell. Always more cowbell.

        But, seriously, maybe we’ll see board with more SATA on the boards with x series parts? The itty-bitty Opterons.

        • DarkMikaru
        • 6 years ago

        Yeah, I love this little thing. You just can’t beat the power envelope. I’m using a Lian Li Q08B case and the airflow is very decent. I did put a small 80mm fan on the passive sink because a 56C+ idle temp was worrying me a little. Now it idles at 43C & my drives stay around 36C and the system is virtually silent ๐Ÿ™‚

        I did eyeball the E-350 version with the fan, I think Gigabytes had a version also but I had my heart set on a MiniITX silent setup. Point is… i agree… I hope we can get a low wattage kabini with more ports. Gimme Gimme Gimme!

        If they make a smaller version of this board for Kabini I’ll be sold. 8 Sata ports… oh yeah!
        [url<]http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813138366[/url<]

      • raddude9
      • 6 years ago

      I agree that 2 SATA ports is not enough, there are a number of options though:

      * Use the Mini PCI-e slot and plug in a Mini PCI-e SSD (or two)
      * Get a PCI-E SATA card:
      [url<]http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&N=100007607%204093&IsNodeId=1&name=%2410%20-%20%2425[/url<] * Plug a few things into a USB 3.0 port Saw a few more options since writing this post: * Get a mini PCI-e card e.g.: [url<]http://www.amazon.com/Syba-2-Port-SATA-PCI-Express-SD-MPE40056/dp/B009WN7QTE/ref=pd_cp_pc_0[/url<] * Get a Kabini board that has more SATA ports e.g., this Sapphire has 4: [url<]http://www.eteknix.com/computex-sapphire-shows-off-amd-kabini-soc-mini-itx-motherboard/[/url<]

    • Goty
    • 6 years ago

    Now I just want to see how well the different Kabini SKUs handle intensive video post-processing… My Phenom II X3/Radeon 4670 HTPC is getting a bit long in the tooth.

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 6 years ago

    I looked at this earlier in the week and I came away thinking, “Yep. Almost. They almost had me. Then they put one of those little fans on there and they turned it into a loud, shrill, rattling noise monster to be. It’s just a couple months out from that with a fan like that.”

    If they’d just made it a standard 120mm or 80mm fan, I could have replaced that without having to do some kind of ugly kludge.

    Let’s hope the Bay Trail equivalent does better. (Bonus: Bay Trail seems to have Quicksync and Quicksync is now being used in FFDSHOW.)

      • raddude9
      • 6 years ago

      It’s all down to the quality of the fan and the Fan speed, one good review will give us the answer.

    • biffzinker
    • 6 years ago

    Turns out the PCIe x16 slot with the x4 connection is version 3.0 not 2 according to ECS product page.

    [quote<]EXPANSION SLOT ยบ 1 X PCI Express X16 Gen 3.0 slot(s), ยบ 2 X Mini PCI Express X1 slot(s)[/quote<]

      • Star Brood
      • 6 years ago

      We haven’t heard from AMD (last I checked) that they support PCI Express revision 3.0, so I would take that with a grain of salt.

      • Dissonance
      • 6 years ago

      ECS’ product page is wrong. The chip doesn’t support PCIe 3.0. The motherboard’s manual, which is available in the download section, lists the correct config for the x16 slot.

        • biffzinker
        • 6 years ago

        Well so much for what I had planned.

          • Waco
          • 6 years ago

          I can’t imagine many things that you could use it for that would require a 4x PCIe 3.0 slot versus a 4x PCIe 2.0 slot…

    • ronch
    • 6 years ago

    Well, if anything, perhaps these ECS things will encourage the other motherboard makers to make their own Kabini boards. But ECS? No, I’ve had it with them.

      • Airmantharp
      • 6 years ago

      I’ve had them work- and I’ve had them [i<][b<]not[/b<][/i<] work. But I'm still willing to give them a chance at something like this; I just won't buy anything from them that has 'options'. It either does what it's supposed to out of the box or it goes back.

    • Star Brood
    • 6 years ago

    Too bad the web site doesn’t list any prices. A quad core Kabini + a mobo for less than $125 might sell pretty nicely.

    • DPete27
    • 6 years ago

    From website [quote<]For industrial applications, the KBN-I is equipped with Serial port output (COM). The Mini-PCIe slot is designed for [b<]laptops[/b<] and other small-footprint computer systems and supports Mini-PCI card (one full-card and one half-card) for mini-Wireless, mini-TV tuner and so on.[/quote<] Heh?

    • drfish
    • 6 years ago

    Oh I have plans for this one… Yes indeed… LOVE the dual mini-PCIe slots.

      • DPete27
      • 6 years ago

      I’m equally excited, hopefully that fan isn’t too loud…

      Does ECS have a UEFI yet or are they still using BIOS?

      • Airmantharp
      • 6 years ago

      Every mITX board needs these. Still wondering what’s holding them back!

    • NeelyCam
    • 6 years ago

    [quote<] PCI Express x16 (with four four lanes of gen-two bandwidth)[/quote<] I'm not sure what this means... nonetheless, wouldn't the CPU heavily bottleneck most decent discrete GPUs..?

      • chuckula
      • 6 years ago

      [quote<]I'm not sure what this means...[/quote<] I am! It means there is a 16x physical slot but that only 4 lanes of PCIe data are active in the slot. [quote<]wouldn't the CPU heavily bottleneck most decent discrete GPUs..?[/quote<] If you are playing Crysis 3, sure. But for a bunch of tasks where a lower to mid range GPU is working better than the IGP, it makes sense. You can also use that slot for other things besides GPUs.

        • NeelyCam
        • 6 years ago

        Oh ok. Four lanes of PCIe Gen2 is kind of weak.. maybe the PCI link bottlenecks the GPU more than the CPU

          • Goty
          • 6 years ago

          [url<]http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/Intel/Ivy_Bridge_PCI-Express_Scaling/23.html[/url<] Even today's high-end video cards suffer only a few percent decrease in performance when moving from PCI-E 2.0 x8 or x16 to PCI-E 2.0 x4.

            • NeelyCam
            • 6 years ago

            Thanks for the link – good information. I guess Gen2 x4 is still pretty good.

            • Goty
            • 6 years ago

            Yep, it’s pretty amazing. Even 3-way setups don’t benefit [i<]much[/i<] from PCI-E 3.0 at this point, even when not given a full 16 lanes per card.

            • willmore
            • 6 years ago

            Ever since we had the example of the ill fated starfighter (i740), video card makers have been pretty darn careful to keep all the textures on the card. Since those textures don’t change all that much–level load or portal transition–there’s not a ton of BW needed between the CPU and GPU. Latency is more of an issue, the PCI-E is very good at being low latency.

            • UberGerbil
            • 6 years ago

            It is an issue for GPU compute, but obviously that’s not a sane use-case for this.

            • willmore
            • 6 years ago

            I might not say that for all GPU computer, but I can envision workloads where it may matter. The stuff I do (number theory) uses very little bandwidth CPU<>GPU. Heck, very little of the GPU<>memory bandwidth is used. If you leave the cache, it’s game over.

            • UberGerbil
            • 6 years ago

            Yes, if your dataset can fit into the on-card memory then obviously that’s by far what you want to do. But not all datasets can, and in that case the card<->system bandwidth can make the difference between using GPU compute at all or just skipping that and staying on the CPU. It’s a couple of years old but this was the one situation where [url=http://www.anandtech.com/show/5264/sandy-bridge-e-x79-pcie-30-it-works<]AnandTech found a benefit[/url<] for PCie 3.0.

            • willmore
            • 6 years ago

            Agreed that there are jobs that need the BW. I’m just saying that you can’t categorically say that all GPU computer jobs need it. Some do, some don’t.

      • dpaus
      • 6 years ago

      “Monster monster Kabinis on Sunday Sunday!!!”

        • willmore
        • 6 years ago

        Maybe if said in the voice of one of the Little Pony’s from the similarly named show. (Yes, I have a four year old daughter, I can’t avoid exposure to this–save yourself!)

          • NeelyCam
          • 6 years ago

          Don’t you just [i<]looooove[/i<] Rainbow Dash!!

            • willmore
            • 6 years ago

            My 4 year old does–and I never hear the end of it. My 6 year old likes Pinkie-Pie. I just go in the other room.

      • Anonymous Coward
      • 6 years ago

      [quote<]wouldn't the CPU heavily bottleneck most decent discrete GPUs[/quote<] Dunno, four cores and that shared 2MB L2 are taking tiny CPU cores into new territory.

        • MadManOriginal
        • 6 years ago

        It would bottleneck a good GPU. An i5 3570K using HD4000 outperforms the Kabini A4-5000 (1.5GHz quad core) in games.

          • Anonymous Coward
          • 6 years ago

          You had better let Sony know!

            • MadManOriginal
            • 6 years ago

            We’re talking PCs not consoles, consoles can clearly get more out of their hardware.

            • Anonymous Coward
            • 6 years ago

            Yeah “clearly” more, but what does that mean, +25%? I suspect its less than 15%, but the frame delivery is more predictable.

          • raddude9
          • 6 years ago

          Might that not be down to the more powerful GPU built into the 3570K over the one built into the Kabini? The post above was about discreet GPUs.

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