On the outside, this Zotac Fusion board mimics the view I see in almost all of Zotac's product range - mini-ITX, jam-packed full of features, and for a little price premium.  Some of this is true - the FUSION350-A-E has a Cooler Master designed passive cooler, SO-DIMM memory to improve space on the board, and a Wifi card with a pair of antenna.  For the most part, however, I've found this board has underperformed.  In terms of performance, it's nothing spectacular (or worse than the rest at times), and doesn't offer anything significantly different. It needs a fresh injection of BIOS and software, as well as more robust controllers to become a more desirable product.

Visual Inspection

On the front of it, looking at the Zotac board and seeing such a small cooler compared to the ASUS board can be a bit puzzling.  On show are the obvious copper heatpipes, and a Cooler Master logo, showing the joining of the two companies to produce the passive heatsink.  Along the top sports a USB 3.0 header, a CPU fan header (a chipset requirement, even if it is a passive solution), and the two SO-DIMM memory slots.

Along the right hand side is the 24-pin power connector, the clear CMOS jumper, a 4-pin system fan header and the front panel connectors.  Nothing too out of the ordinary here, though there is space to put the SATA connectors here rather than above the open ended PCIe x4 slot.

The open ended PCIe x4 slot is essentially what a PCIe x16 slot is when it is in x4 mode.  So there is scope to add some GPUs here.  Above this are the four SATA 6 Gbps connectors and the mini-PCIe wifi card, which is hooked into the antenna holders on the I/O panel automatically.  The board also sports a COM header, a USB 2.0 header, a SPDIF out header, and the front panel audio header, all in the corner around the PCIe x4 and the I/O panel.

Nothing too different on the I/O panel compared to other models, except the USB 3.0 ports powered by a VIA controller are directly below a legacy PS2 port.  This motherboard supports HDMI, DisplayPort and DVI from the onboard connectors (VGA requires a converter).  Alongside four USB 2.0 ports is the eSATA 3 Gbps, a gigabit Ethernet port, 8-channel HD audio and an optical SPDIF output.

 

ECS HDC-I: Features, In the Box, Software Zotac FUSION350-A-E: BIOS and Overclocking
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  • triclops41 - Thursday, July 14, 2011 - link

    I think Starcraft 2 benchmarks should be included. It is a popular game that can run well on mid and lower end systems.

    I know it can almost run at lowest settings with the E-350 at stock. But I would really like to know how well SC2 runs when the E-350 is overclocked to 2.1Ghz, considering it was CPU limited before.
    Reply
  • Phynaz - Thursday, July 14, 2011 - link

    Not single test doing video decode and display = fail. Reply
  • Finally - Thursday, July 14, 2011 - link

    ...you are taking a Bobcat APU (that's made for netbooks, HTPC and other low power usage devices) and test it on ground of performance by pairing it with a 1000W power supply. (Ian was clever enough not to mention his batshit crazy choice by simply stating "Silverstone 80+ Silver" on the hardware page - a quick check on geizhals.at reveals that there are only 4 power supplies that fall into this category, starting @ 700W and going up to 1000W -> http://geizhals.at/deutschland/?cat=gehps&xf=1...
    To further add insult to injury he then pairs this netbook APU with a Nvidia 580GTX only to finish this ridiuculousness for good with overclocking the shit out of the CPU...
    Come on? What will be tested next? How far the SoC can be thrown when it's raining?

    The thing I like best on AnandTech is how your pro-Intel-agitprop is actually brought to words: "Hudson-M1 - why would I want it?" - Imagine this same question being asked when Intel's Atom platform is the topic of the day... mark it well, because that will be the moment hell freezes over...
    Reply
  • AnandThenMan - Thursday, July 14, 2011 - link

    You're wasting your time. AMD will never get a fair shake on this site, not going to happen. Every notice how there is never a situation where a "mistake" or other choice accidentally gave AMD an unfair advantage? Why is that? Because these choices are on purpose, and are carefully selected to minimize the AMD product as much as possible, while still trying to maintain the appearance of impartiality.

    This site is a shill of Intel, and the only reason people don't believe that is because it's a hard thing to accept. But the evidence is overwhelming. At one time, there was an entire section of this website dedicated to only Intel, anyone else remember that?
    Reply
  • Broheim - Friday, July 15, 2011 - link

    if the reviews bother you that much, then why do you come back? is your life really that empty? Reply
  • medi01 - Sunday, July 17, 2011 - link

    Somebody has to compensate for shit in articles at least in comments. Reply
  • Broheim - Sunday, July 17, 2011 - link

    if "somebody" is dissatisfied, then "somebody" can go make their own hardware review site and review stuff like "somebody" wants to...

    in the meantime, "somebody" doesn't have to "compensate for shit".
    Reply
  • IanCutress - Thursday, July 14, 2011 - link

    As I've mentioned, the PSU issue is purely due to what I have available for testing. The GTX580 test, also as I've mentioned, was to provide a plausible maximum ceiling in those tests, and to explore the CPU power with the PCIe x4 against the iGPU. Regarding overclocking - there are people who will overclock everything and anything, regardless of what it's used for. In my mind, it's a valid test - if the platform has headroom with no negative consequences, that's something to look out for, and which to a certain extent the ECS board provided.

    I'm neither pro-Intel or pro-AMD. I review what I feel is right for the time and situation, and what circumstances allow. We have a series of 9-series boards to look at in the near future, but so far this year all the releases for me to focus on have been Intel based, especially in the motherboard segment. The comment regarding 'why would I want it' was the exact speculative comment I made when the boards came through my door. It's what I ask every board that passes through my hands - if a reviewer didn't ask this, there would be no point him or her reviewing it.

    I'm more than open to suggestions by email if there are other tests you think should be added. If there is time and an apt reason to run them (and everyone will be able to interpret the results), I will take a look - the development of testing is always fluid.

    Ian
    Reply
  • AnandThenMan - Thursday, July 14, 2011 - link

    In the interest of full disclosure and proper review procedures, please correct the chart to indicate the make/model/wattage of the power supply, instead of simply "Silverstone 80 PLUS Silver". Reply
  • andymcca - Friday, July 15, 2011 - link

    ^^ This.

    And honestly, it should be noted clearly, in plain sight, that power consumption figures are totally meaningless at <5% PSU load.

    It's fine that this is the only PSU you have on hand, but (lacking DC power figures, which obviously require special equipment) a low power PSU, preferably a PicoPSU (with a decent brick) or equivalent, is the only reasonable choice here for power testing. Under-loading a PSU can give very misleading results, which deserve a footnote.
    Reply

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