I decided to dedicate an extra page to looking at two features on these Fusion boards that are, in my eyes, quite interesting to discuss. 

On the one hand, we are dealing with low power CPUs which can't process that much very fast, so if you want to overclock them, that overclock also has a significant impression on any integrated GPU gaming being used. 

On the other, we have access to a PCIe x16 slot, capable of running a full length, high-end GPU (should you want to).  This PCIe slot actually runs at 4x, which in certain circumstances would cripple the discrete GPU.  Pair this crippling with a not-so-great CPU, and we're not expecting the gaming capability to take off, so I've examined this as well.

Overclocking, and Gaming Performance

By default, we have a 1600 MHz, dual core Fusion CPU, combined with an 80 SP iGPU at 500 MHz, designated the HD 6310.  In terms of pure CPU throughput, we saw on all boards that a percentage increase in clock speed gave a direct increase in benchmark result for the 3D Particle Movement benchmark.

In terms of gaming, we need to analyze what this overclock does.  Apart from the default CPU speed increase, we're getting a direct GPU clock speed increase as well.  The DDR3 memory is also getting an increase, thus the memory bandwidth to the iGPU is increased as well.  So any overclock will increase its own effectiveness in two major areas.

I'll take the ASUS E35M1-I Deluxe for this explanation, which allowed a 10% overclock from 1600 MHz to 1760 MHz.  From the gaming perspective on the iGPU, we have a large increase in scores:

Overclocking the iGPU - 1024x768

Overclocking the iGPU - 1024x768

Out largest increase was in the DirectX 9 game, Left4Dead2 - a staggering 36.4 % increase in frame rate from 30.3 fps to 41.4 fps, making the game more playable at the 1024x768 resolution.  Even Metro2033 had a 21.0 % increase, and Dirt2 a 17.3% increase.  Is the iGPU itself capable of playing the major games?  Probably not, but at least those older ones can feel smoother.

The PCIe slot running at 4x - Is it worth using a beefy GPU, like a GTX 580?

The short answer is no, probably not.  Normally we see a full length PCIe slot run at 4x only when it's the second or third PCIe slot on the board, and usually at the detriment to SATA or USB ports that have to be switched off as a result.  Here, we have two main issues - will the CPU be fast enough to be able to navigate data across the PCIe bus to and from the discrete graphics, or will the 4x speed of the bus be the crippling factor?

(Note: I understand getting a GTX580 isn't realistic with a Fusion, but it's the most powerful GPU I have to hand and most apt for this test as GPU power should not be an issue.)

For this test, I ran the GTX 580  at the same settings as the iGPU tests, and then at the 1920x1080 resolutions and settings that we normally do for the high end motherboards (8xMSAA, 16xAF).  First, at the iGPU resolutions on the ASUS E35M1-I Deluxe:

Using a Large GPU - 1024x768

Despite using a $500 GPU, our biggest increase in frame rate, at 1024x768 resolution, is only 50%.  In Left4Dead2 on Sandy Bridge, at 1680x1050, we see over 200 fps - we know L4D2 can be fairly CPU limited, so the fact that we only see 45 fps is definitely testament to the Fusion CPU.

Now, at the full 1920x1080 resolution:

Large GPU Comparison - GTX 580

In Metro 2033, we didn't see any real decline from 1024x768 to 1920x1080, but there was a significant drop in Left4Dead2.  These results are also due to the CPU holding the GPU back, meaning that even with a GTX 580 on Fusion, only the old games will be playable, but this time at a higher resolution.

Gaming Benchmarks Final Words
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  • mschira - Friday, July 15, 2011 - link

    I find it hard to believe how calmly the praises for the 33% overclock are. Just face it the Lano platform can use all the speed it can get, and that 33% sounds healthy enough.
    At 1.6 I think Lano is slightly underpowered, at 2.1Ghz, well slightly less i.e. not anymore.

    It hard to understand why AMD isn't coming up with a 2Ghz variant of Lano. I fact I find it very concerning. It looks as if AMD is just not determined enough to compete with Intel.
    M.
    Reply
  • Rick83 - Friday, July 15, 2011 - link

    E350 is not Llano.
    And mini ITX E350 is not meant for overclocking and performance.
    Thus I find this to be a bit of a non-feature. Better to get a passively cooled 32nm Intel S1156 Pentium, if you need more performance.
    As far as I know, the only drawback this level of performance has, is when flash movies at extreme settings are played. While this may be important for some, it's not needed in a general browsing/mail machine that does the odd office application. Nor in most home cinemas, where local mkvs or disks are played.
    Yet for this overclock you give up on passive cooling and instead get a tiny, and presumably relatively whiny fan. Not worth the hassle.
    Reply
  • AmdInside - Friday, July 15, 2011 - link

    I have an older ITX case I would like to continue using and it puzzles me why almost all of these mobos use a 24-pin connector when there are so many ITX cases with a 20-pin connector. Reply
  • andymcca - Friday, July 15, 2011 - link

    Does anyone spend money on WHS for NAS? Seems like a waste. (Don't get me wrong, I see some reasons to get it if text scares you and you are doing something more complicated. And have money to burn. Or live on a pirate ship.)
    RAID is supported in the Linux kernel, and is better than any junky fakeRAID a motherboard might provide. And with 6 SATA 6Gb/s ports, this makes a damn fine NAS!
    Reply
  • andymcca - Friday, July 15, 2011 - link

    Though the lack of 1000 Gb/s ethernet is sad :( Reply
  • andymcca - Friday, July 15, 2011 - link

    I'd settle for 1Gb/s :) Reply
  • Rick83 - Friday, July 15, 2011 - link

    which all of these boards have. Reply
  • burpnrun - Friday, July 15, 2011 - link

    Firstly, the author starts by positioning the AMD CPU/boards in a HTPC context. Then promply forgets any consideration of a HTPC role. Not one video/encoding/decoding/transcoding benchmark. Instead, "games" and "computational" benchmarks. WTF? I'm wondering, is this guy competent?

    Secondly, as other posters have commented, the author's/article's power consumption measurements are so outlandish as to be laughed at. I mean, seriously warped versus reality. Incompetence (and determined reluctance to remeasure/fix) is brashly showing through at this point.

    The coup-de-gace of this idiotic review, though, is the inclusion of a Nvidia 580GTX for games, a role the Brazos CPU/Chipsets are not positioned towards. A 580GTX? In a 4x PCIe slot? And there are problems? WOW. I wonder why? At this point I concluded that not only was the author totally incompetent, but the motive of the article was also highly suspect.

    Until Arnand cleans up this stinking pile of pseudo "review", I'm not coming back here. I'm not a Intel or AMD fanboy, but this is such an incompetent, biased, purposeless (or was there a mission here that tried to be masked by "review" status?) article that a line has to be drawn in the sand against outright c*rap "reviews" like this.

    Anand, you should be ashamed to even have this piece of junk on your site!
    Reply
  • ET - Friday, July 15, 2011 - link

    If this is the worst review you've read in 15 years, uou must not read a lot of reviews, so your threat of not coming back probably means that the next review you'll read in five years will be on another site. If you really want, I can point you to a lot of other sites with worse reviews.

    Not saying that this review is perfect, but come on, lots of other reviews of the E-350 have done exactly the same things, and some of your issues are nit-picking. Would you had been happier if a lower end discrete card was put in the PCIe slot? Putting a very high end one just illustrates how CPU bound this platform is.
    Reply
  • AnandThenMan - Friday, July 15, 2011 - link

    "lots of other reviews of the E-350 have done exactly the same things"

    Post the links, I'd like to read them. Thanks.
    Reply

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