Biostar A68N-5100 is a tiny home for Kabini

AMD's Kabini architecture is definitely not new, and neither is the A4-5100 implementation of that low-power APU design. That hasn't stopped Biostar from releasing the A68N-5100, a mini-ITX motherboard packing a permanently-attached APU under a fanless heatsink. The A68N-5100 is an upgraded version of Biostar's A68N-5000, released in 2014. The company also offers a faster A68N-5200, but that unit will disturb users' ears with a fan.

The A4-5100 is a quad-core SoC with a GCN Radeon HD 8330 IGP sporting 128 stream processors running at 500MHz. The CPU base clock speed is a scant 1.55 GHz. Performance will definitely not threaten Kaby Lake or even Bulldozer, but Bay Trail systems might want to look out when the A4-5100 comes around, particularly when graphics workloads are involved.

Biostar has clearly been listening to the large segment of gerbils clamoring for a motherboard free of gaudy RGB LED illumination, but with a shiny gold heatsink. Buyers of cases with large side windows are also sure to love the bright yellow memory and PCIe slots with which Biostar saw fit to bless this board. The motherboard sports a pair of desktop-sized DIMM slots and one PCIe 2.0 x16 slot. The maximum supported single-channel DDR3 memory speed is 1600 MT/s, and the largest supported capacity is 16 GB.

Display outputs are somewhat limited given the APU's family tree. The board offers a single HDMI port along with an old-school VGA connection for the last of the CRT users out there. On the subject of support for ancient connectors, the A68N-5100's pair of PS/2 ports and headers for serial and parallel ports suggest the true audience for this board may be in emergent markets or in embedded applications. The ATX PSU connector is a standard 24-pin type, and the board doesn't need an extra ATX 12V cable.

The A68N-5100 sports a pair of USB 3.0 ports, but no headers for front-panel USB 3.0 convenience. Biostar claims the Charger Booster Technology baked into the board allows users to charge attached devices up to 42% faster than normal USB ports. There's an on-board Gigabit Ethernet adapter from an unnamed supplier. The motherboard includes support for Biostar's Bio-Remote 2 remote control features, letting users control the keyboard and mouse using an Android or iOS app. We applaud the effort, but note that Intel's rather polished Remote Keyboard application works well with AMD or Intel systems.

Biostar didn't offer pricing or availability information, but we expect the price to be low—like dinner-for-four low. The company's similar A68N-2100 board with a dual-core AMD E1-2100 APU is currently available on Newegg for $40.

Comments closed
    • ronch
    • 3 years ago

    Kabini has RISEN!!!

    • dodozoid
    • 3 years ago

    [quote<] and the board doesn't need an extra ATX 12V cable. [/quote<] isn't there 12V connector just left of the heatsink?

      • willmore
      • 3 years ago

      Shhhh….

    • Chrispy_
    • 3 years ago

    My interest in Kabini is the ECC support so any Kabini board needs to have a decent NIC and at least 5 SATA ports. The target demographic this board is aimed at have already all moved to NUC-a-likes instead.

    Oh well, at least there are no RGBLEDs….

      • deruberhanyok
      • 3 years ago

      I found when I was running one that only certain boards had actually implemented ECC support, so while ECC DIMMs worked in all of them, it may not have been using that functionality properly. I had one of the ASrock boards and it was disabled.

      [url<]http://www.overclock.net/t/1495837/ecc-works-on-am1[/url<] I guess I forgot to mention "no consistent useful feature support" in my list of things that would have been really nice about Kabini.

        • RAGEPRO
        • 3 years ago

        Huh, that is interesting. I didn’t know some boards didn’t implement support. I’m surprised the motherboard even matters given that there’s no chipset on board.

    • crabjokeman
    • 3 years ago

    Biostar’s page lists the Ethernet as Realtek 8111G and the audio as Realtek ALC662.

    As crabjokeman, I felt obligated to tell you this.

    • DragonDaddyBear
    • 3 years ago

    I wasn’t thrilled until I thought about the board in terms of a Pi. If it’s $45 USD, that’s a lot of upgrade over a Pi for only $10. With a PicoPSU and some left-over PC parts it might actually be a cheap Kodi box with significantly better gaming chops (emulation, indi steam).

    • deruberhanyok
    • 3 years ago

    Kabini was such a disappointment. Not for what it offered at the time – I thought it was fairly priced for what you got – but for the complete lack of updates that came after.

    It could have been really interesting to see an upgrade from Jaguar to Puma cores. They could have scaled them up to 8-core designs like what they did for the PS4 / XB1 and tried some interesting things with onboard GPUs, or added more to the SoCiness of it. It could have been a high-power but still low-ish cost alternative to tinker boards like the raspberry pi with the added flexibility of an entire PC ecosystem behind it. It could have been great for building your own NUC.

    But instead we got four models of low power APU, which were all basically the same, then… nothing. No further updates, no additional releases, and a supply of unchanged motherboards that dried up after a few months.

    I’d love to hear the behind-the-scenes about the whole thing.

      • chuckula
      • 3 years ago

      True story: Theoretically AMD made a Socket AM1 that was supposed to take socketed Kabini parts.

      Because wasn’t it awesome that you could upgrade the platform with next-gen Kabinis when mean old Intel soldered all its atoms to the board!

      Still waiting on the next-gen Kabinis.

      Here’s one of the socketed Kabini CPUs at the low-low price of $46* [for the chip, good luck finding a motherboard]: [url<]https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819113366[/url<] * I mean, $46 is an absolute steal compared to those ripoff $44 Kaby Lake celerons: [url<]https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIA2F857Z1342&cm_re=Kaby_Lake_Celeron-_-19-117-748-_-Product[/url<]

        • juampa_valve_rde
        • 3 years ago

        here in the 3rd world we can have a kabini 5150 for 40 USD, an AM1 board for bout the same, but yeah, im still waiting for a puma+ upgrade with h265 decoder, or a beefier nas friendly soc.

        • RAGEPRO
        • 3 years ago

        Boards for [url=http://www.outletpc.com/jl4251-asrock-am1b-m-am1.html?utm_source=jl4251-asrock-am1b-m-am1&utm_medium=shopping%2Bengine&utm_campaign=pcpartpicker&utm_content=ASRock%2B-%2BMotherboards%20%3E%20AMD%20Socket%20AM1<]$35[/url<], [url=http://www.superbiiz.com/detail.php?name=MB-AM1MS2H&c=CJ<]$35[/url<]. There's more. Try [url=http://pcpartpicker.com/products/motherboard/#s=27&sort=a8&page=1<]here[/url<]. Boards are easy to find and cheap. I picked up an [url=http://www.ecs.com.tw/ECSWebSite/Product/Product_Overview.aspx?DetailID=1565&CategoryID=1&DetailName=Feature&MenuID=131&LanID=0<]ECS KAM1-I[/url<] a few months ago for $25. Combined with a $40 Athlon 5350 and an 8GB DIMM I had laying around, it made for a great upgrade for my dad, who was still using an [url=http://ark.intel.com/products/36331/Intel-Atom-Processor-N270-512K-Cache-1_60-GHz-533-MHz-FSB<]Atom N270[/url<] nettop. You know of any $25 Intel boards?

          • chuckula
          • 3 years ago

          Well, I know of a $42 LGA-1151 board that’s easily available on Newegg: [url<]https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813130891&cm_re=LGA-1151_motherboard-_-13-130-891-_-Product[/url<] From MSI too. As for $25 Intel boards, not in the LGA-1151 class, but you didn't exactly link to any $25 AM1 boards either, just $35 ones. Additionally, I didn't exactly go looking for older Intel parts that are roughly age-equivalent to Kabini, I just went for a full-bore Kaby Lake chip. So the question becomes, how much is that $5 net price advantage worth to jump on the socket AM1 bandwagon? Is $5 a total ripoff to have a chip with full HEVC decode capability that is flat out not present in Kabini?

            • RAGEPRO
            • 3 years ago

            AM1 is a discontinued platform; prices are higher now than they were at their prime. Your “you didn’t link any” remark is disingenuous; you could verify that they were that cheap using PCPartPicker’s price history if you didn’t believe me.

            And yeah, I’ll keep the $5 for four real cores and Radeon graphics. Ain’t as fast as two Kaby cores to be sure, but these chips don’t even need an ATX12V. Nevermind that my $25 board was ITX. Not a lot of ITX Intel boards in the sub-$60 range. 🙂

            Oh yeah, and Kabini supports ECC. Find me that on an Intel machine south of $100.

            • DPete27
            • 3 years ago

            Yeah, and mATX boards start at $50, mITX at $60. Pair that with a $65 Intel G4560 and I think your performance easily outpaces the 1.5x platform cost over Kabini.

            • chuckula
            • 3 years ago

            I link to a mATX motherboard that’s less than $50.
            You say that start at $50.

            • DPete27
            • 3 years ago

            Sorry?
            I very quickly looked at the MSI board you linked before my original post. I thought it looked long enough for ATX. Also wasn’t sure what the “OEM” status meant.

        • willmore
        • 3 years ago

        I have two socketed Kibini systems and one non-socketed. So, I’m not sure what you’re talking about. They’re pretty easy to find and they’re very inexpensive.

        My systems are (socketed) E-5350, E5150. The non-socketed on is an E1-2100 on an ECS KBN-1/2100 mini-ITX board.

        • Concupiscence
        • 3 years ago

        It was a neat little platform, and Micro Center carried the motherboards and CPUs for a while. But it got lost in the shuffle of their desktop offerings; AM3+ languished as the closest thing they had to a performance leader, FM2(+) was their mainstream contender (such as it was), and AM1 fell off the radar. Now that AMD’s finally standardizing on AM4, here’s hoping there are some weensy offerings that can reach that potential.

    • NTMBK
    • 3 years ago

    Why are we still seeing Kabini? I thought that Stoney Ridge would be a much better option for this market :/

      • RAGEPRO
      • 3 years ago

      Kabini uses four real Jaguar cores and a “good enough” GPU. By comparison, Stoney Ridge chips are single-module (dual-“core”) APUs using inefficient CMT CPU architecture and an oversized GPU for the task. I really think a die-shrunk Puma+ refresh of Kabini (socket AM1+?) could be pretty amazing.

        • NTMBK
        • 3 years ago

        But the single threaded performance of those four cores is far worse. Trading off multithreaded for single threaded seems like a fair swap.

          • RAGEPRO
          • 3 years ago

          A single-core machine versus a four-core machine? I dunno, man. I think I’ll take the 2 GHz quad over the 2.3 GHz single-core.

          Also, the Kabini at 2 GHz has a 25W TDP with a 128-shader GCN GPU, [s<]while the Stoney Ridge chip at 2.3 GHz has a 15W TDP with a 256-shader GCN GPU[/s<]. Sorry, I was looking at a cut-down Bristol Ridge part. Stoney Ridge is three single-core (single module, but only one front-end = only one core, to me) chips from 10-25W with 128- or 192-shader GCN GPUs between 2.0 and 3.5 GHz. Yeah, even still I really can't even imagine choosing Stoney Ridge over Kabini.

            • NTMBK
            • 3 years ago

            It’s 2.3GHz but with significantly better IPC than the 2GHz design, and no, it’s a dual core.

            • RAGEPRO
            • 3 years ago

            One front-end = one core, if you’re askin’ me. I don’t call Core i3s quad-cores.

            • ET3D
            • 3 years ago

            The A4-5100 (15W part) has a PassMark of 2014, single core 621.
            The A6-9210 (15W part) has a PassMark of 2006, single core 1198.

            While this is benchmark doesn’t tell us everything about all situations, it does indicate that Kabini and Stoney Ridge offer about the same multithreaded performance, and Stoney Ridge offers much better single threaded performance. So Stoney Ridge would cover a wider range of usage scenarios, winning by a landslide in many and not losing by much in others, making it the superior solution.

            Of course it would be cool to see more benchmarks to verify this.

            • RAGEPRO
            • 3 years ago

            Passmark isn’t a great source. You should probably avoid using it. For example, it puts the FX-8350 over all Core i5s, when in reality the FX-8350 gets stomped on in most tasks by a modern Core i3. That’s because of the single-threaded performance, and it’s true that folks are recommending the A6-9210 because of its single-threaded performance. However, well, read on to see why I think it isn’t a very good argument.

            The A4-5100 only runs at 1.55 GHz. Think about this for a second — the A6-9210 loses in multi-core performance to four 1.55 GHz netbook cores. Jaguar is a little bitty tiny chip. The chip I was talking about, the Athlon 5350, runs a full 500 MHz faster, at 2.05 GHz.

            Since you like Passmark, the 5350 has a Passmark score of 808/2570. The single-threaded performance is right in the ballpark of an old Core 2 Quad machine and it supports newer extensions like AES-NI and AVX, which means the real-world performance on those tasks will be drastically improved. Lots of people are still happy with the performance of Core 2 and first-gen Core i*-series boxes. In further comparison to a Core 2 Quad, it doesn’t have a power-thirsty chipset, and it includes relatively fast and capable integrated graphics. You can also run ECC memory on the Kabini chip if you so prefer.

            In further comparison to the Stoney Ridge chip, I’d be willing to bet money that the little 2 GHz Jaguar can outrun that crummy Excavator chip in almost any real-world task. Sure, it puts up a reasonably respectable single-threaded score in Passmark when you’re only running the benchmark on it. But [i<]it only has one CPU front-end[/i<]. What happens when you start running a whole OS on it? Windows 10 likes to scale its work out across many threads and it runs very fast on an Athlon 5350. How do you think it will run on an A6-9210? Having tried to use older single-module APUs, my guess is, "not well."

            • chuckula
            • 3 years ago

            [quote<]Passmark isn't a great source.[/quote<] The Prime and Physics tests are unfairly rigged in Passmark. The rest of it is OK.

            • RAGEPRO
            • 3 years ago

            Timely and vaguely amusing. I smirked.

            • ET3D
            • 3 years ago

            I get what you’re saying: you dislike the construction cores, and so you’re dismissing the only piece of evidence so you can keep your belief which goes contrary to it. You also define ‘better’ in ways that aren’t relevant (such as clock speed), just to sidestep the issue in case it does prove that Stoney Ridge is a better performer at the same TDP and therefore a better CPU by relevant measures.

            Sure, Passmark may not be perfect, but by the same token it could be exaggerating Kabini performance. With no proof either way, you have to take it as is, or provide other benchmarks.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 3 years ago

    HDMI + VGA also just about guarantees universal compatibility with projectors and TVs up to 1080p. It’d be fine to use for some sort of cheap video conferencing solution (since the onboard GPU can [url=https://techreport.com/review/24856/amd-a4-5000-kabini-apu-reviewed<]encode and decode H.264[/url<]. I wouldn't want to use it, though.

    • chuckula
    • 3 years ago

    They just make this too easy….

    So you’re saying that Kabini is Ryzing from the grave when we all thought it was a gonner?

    On an unrelated note, here are Denverton Atom benchmarks: [url<]https://www.servethehome.com/intel-atom-c3000-denverton-first-benchmarks-can-expect-finally-launched/[/url<]

      • juampa_valve_rde
      • 3 years ago

      in your place i wouldn’t trust those pesky atoms, they tend to forget how to clock…

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