WE EXPECTED A FEW Brazos boards at launch, but it seems like we might end up seeing more than just a few which is good news for AMD if nothing else. ASRock is readying a board of its own called the E350M1 giving away both the CPU and chipset being used and it’s said to be a low cost solution, but it appears that ASRock might be offering a few different SKUs.
The preview actually went up a little while ago, but no-one seems to have picked up on it and we found it by chance, as we don’t tend to hang around reading Vietnamese tech forums. The site in question is called online9999.com and besides the pictures of the board itself, there are a handful of benchmarks as well, although we wouldn’t take any of them as a final verdict in terms of the actual graphics performance, since we’d expect fresher drivers at launch. We like our orange juice fresh squeezed too.
As the E350M1 name gives away we’re looking at a 1.6GHz dual core Zacate E-350 processor and the Hudson M1 chipset. We’re not sure why ASRock went with the mobile version of the chipset rather than the desktop version. In terms of features, ASRock has gone for four SATA 6Gbps ports, a x16 PCI Express slot which features four lanes worth of bandwidth and a pair of standard size DIMMs. The board has two headers for four USB 2.0 ports and one for a serial port.
Around the back the board has a PS/2 port, two apparently optional USB 3.0 ports based on an Etron host controller, four USB 2.0 ports, an eSATA port, D-sub, DVI and HDMI ports as well as 7.1-channel audio with optical S/PDIF out. It also seems like ASRock decided to not to include a half-length mini card PCI Express option, as you can clearly see the solder pads and the hole for the retention mechanism on the board, alongside with what appears to be a pair of holes for an antenna bracket.
ASRock is using a simple passive heatsink on the chipset and a small fan cooled heatsink on the CPU, both mounted with push-pins. Sadly it doesn’t look like either are easily replaceable, as there are plenty of components around the CPU and chipset area. Unlike the Gigabyte board we saw a little while back and even the Jetway board, ASRock appears to have gone for cheap and cheerful by not using all solid caps. On the upside, this board only features a 24-pin ATX power connector which should allow it to work with a wide range of mini-ITX cases that use DC-DC converters.
As to the benchmarks, well, with 2GB of DDR3 1333MHz memory and 512MB of that shared with the graphics, the E350M1 scored 3798 points in 3DMark 05. The graphics performance in the other games tested were gained by simply playing a handful of games with Fraps enabled and at 1024×768 it seems like AMD’s new APU handles most games at a playable frame rate. However, it didn’t seem to faire that well in Starcraft 2 and World of Warcraft for whatever reason with both games producing unplayable frame rates. Still, it’s early days and hopefully AMD has a chance to tweak its drivers to offer better performance, although that said, this isn’t a high-end gaming platform, so don’t expect too much from it.S|A
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