Asus E35M1-M Pro review

The first AMD Fusion APU hits the test bench with a rough landing

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Our Verdict

Little more powerful than the Intel Atom and struggles to make sense as a desktop product.

For

  • Excellent 2D video feature set
  • AMD's best integrated graphics yet

Against

  • Weak CPU performance
  • Too expensive

The wait is over. AMD's first Fusion APU (Accelerated Processing Unit), the AMD E-350, has finally arrived courtesy of the Asus E35M1-M PRO motherboard.

Exciting times, but this isn't quite the chip we were expecting.

Wind back the clock a couple of years and we thought a processor based on AMD's exotic new Bulldozer core would be the first CPU-GPU Fusion model out of AMD's gate.

Instead, the AMD E-350 is an ultra low-power chip and the Asus E35M1-M Pro is a compact Micro-ATX board designed for low-profile systems.

That said, the AMD E-350 APU is certainly all new.

Prior to its arrival, all of AMD's PC processors were effectively derivatives of a single architecture. In terms of power consumption, the range was large kicking off at 9W and extending all the way to 140W.

Likewise, there are all kinds of configurations available up to and including six-core processors.

But the future of computing is all about low power and small form factors including everything from smartphones and tablets to netbooks and embedded devices.

AMD needs something that can at least form the basis of the quest for the fabled 1W CPU.

Admittedly, AMD's main rival Intel has been ahead of the curve with this trend with the Atom, a processor that was met with confusion when it appeared nearly three years ago but now seems increasingly prescient.

Whatever, for AMD that low-power something is Bobcat, the first properly new AMD core since the Hammer architecture of 2003 and designed from the ground up for maximum efficiency. Our first look at a Bobcat-based processor is itself codenamed Zacate, a dual-core chip with on-die graphics.

It's not designed for the very smallest mobile devices such as smartphones, but it could well appear in just about every other class of device, including tablets and slates.

On paper, Zacate should be significantly stronger than Atom.

Granted, it lacks HyperThreading, but in terms of instruction handling, it's a pukka out-of-order design. That should give it a clear advantage regards work done per clock cycle compared to Intel's simpler in-order Atom.

Of course, the new Bobcat core aside, the other key element with the Zacate processor die in general and the AMD E-350 model tested here is its status as AMD's first CPU-GPU "Fusion" processor.

Intel got there first with 'Fusion' though with the Westmere and now Sandy Bridge cores. But AMD has traditionally been stronger in graphics and also first to do a low power Fusion chip.

Moreover, there's no getting round the fact the Intel Atom platform's performance has been lame in both CPU and particularly graphics terms. Zacate brings a full DX11 graphics core to the ultra low power space for the first time and just as importantly a complete set of 2D video acceleration features.

One of the most disappointing aspects of many Atom-powered netbooks is their inability to handle high definition video. With Zacate, AMD is promising to bring HD support to new price points and form factors.

It really is all to play for.

Tags

Tech Specs

Product TypeDesktop Motherboard
Chipset ManufacturerAMD
Chipset ModelFCH A50
Onboard VideoOn-board Video Chipset
Number of PCI Express x16 Slots1
Integrated Processor ManufacturerAMD
Integrated Processor TypeZacate
Integrated Processor ModelE350
Integrated Processor CoreDual-core (2 Core)
Memory TechnologyDDR3 SDRAM
Brand NameAsus
Form FactorMicro ATX
Total Processor Supported1
Maximum Memory8 GB
64-bit ProcessingYes
Number of Memory Slots2
Number of PCI Slots2
Graphics Controller ManufacturerATI
Graphics Controller ModelRadeon HD 6310
Graphics Controller Memory1 GB
Audio Channels7.1
Gigabit EthernetYes
Number of SATA Interfaces5
QuickPath Interconnect2.50 GT/s
Number of Total Expansion Slots4
eSATAYes
HDMIYes
DVIYes
Network (RJ-45)Yes
Total Number of USB Ports6
Number of USB 3.0 Ports2
Total Number of FireWire/i.LINK Ports1
PS/2 PortYes
Number of PS/2 Ports2
Total Number of Onboard USB Ports4
Number of Onboard USB 2.0 Ports4
Total Number of Onboard FireWire/i.LINK Ports1
PCI Express StandardPCI Express 2.0
Total Number of PCI Express Slots2
Processor TechnologyCool'n'Quiet Technology
Width243.8 mm
Depth182.9 mm
ManufacturerASUS Computer International
Product ModelE35M1-M PRO
Product NameE35M1-M PRO Desktop Motherboard
Controller TypeSerial ATA/600
Manufacturer Part NumberE35M1-M PRO
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://uk.asus.com
Marketing Information

This motherboard supports Integrated AMD Zacate E350 Dual-Core (TDP:18W) Processors. This revolutionary APU (Accelerated Processing Unit) combines processing power and advanced DirectX 11 graphics in one small, energy-efficient design to enable accelerated performance and an industry-leading visual experience. It features single-channel DDR3 1066 memory support and accelerates data transfer rate up to 2.5GT/s.