Sapphire Pure Fusion Mini E350 review

Does this tiny motherboard shine like a jewel?

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When it comes to performance, well you might well take one look at the test results and say, "What performance?", but even these performance figures outshine the old EPIA boards' stuttering attempts at running benchmarks.

But out-and-out performance isn't what this type of motherboard is about, it's more about be able to offer adequate performance - especially video playback - at low power requirements, in a small, tight space where the lack of heat production is of real importance, making them ideal for very small form factor HTPC's.

As mentioned in the introduction, the difference between the two Sapphire boards is the type of DDR3 memory supported.

The Pure White Fusion uses two standard 240-pin DIMM slots while the Pure Mini Fusion uses two SO-DIMM slots, the slots normally associated with notebooks.

Using a pair of smaller memory slots has given Sapphire more elbow-room to work on the motherboard, which has allowed them to include a mini-PCI slot which can be used to house something like a Wi-Fi card in. Just as Zotac has done with its Intel based H67ITX board, only Sapphire hasn't included any bracketry to help with mounting the aerial(s).

You might think that a motherboard this small would be light on features, but the Pure Mini Fusion can hold its own against many a full size board; five SATA 6Gb/s ports, two USB3.0 and three USB ports, VGA and a single link DVI outputs, HDMI, Bluetooth, eight channel audio and integrated Gigabit LAN.

There's also a single PCI-E x16 slot for a discrete graphics card, but it only runs at x4 speed.

We liked

This time around, it appears that the ITX format has a lot going for it as AMD's Fusion technology has made it possible to combined adequate performance and power saving with a half-decent, usable feature set to make the format an interesting proposition for people wanting to build a very small media platform.

We disliked

It's a real shame that Sapphire didn't include a Wi-Fi card with the Pure Fusion Mini E350, especially as it went to the trouble of adding Bluetooth to the board. Even worse, there's no provision for mounting an aerial(s), should you have brought a third-party Wi-Fi card.


Although its early days for AMD's latest technology, it works well and is ideal for very small form factors, something that Sapphire has proved quite nicely with the Pure Fusion Mini E350.