Fusion E-350 Review: ASUS E35M1-I Deluxe, ECS HDC-I and Zotac FUSION350-A-Eby Ian Cutress on July 14, 2011 11:00 AM EST
Ever since I first tinkered around with the ASUS board, I had a love/hate relationship with it. It's a prime example of what a lot of people may want in a board - it's passive, the wifi is already built in (you just fix the antenna), and it runs straight out of the box. But the more I prodded around the vibrant exterior, I tried to find what I would get for my $175, especially compared to the other boards I have here for review.
Despite the E-350 processor on board, the passive heatsink gets incredibly hot to touch, even at idle in a fanless environment. The CPU itself is rated at 18W, and without a discrete GPU, the board is pulling around 60W in our stringent tests. This is disconcerting, considering that the ECS board (even though it isn't passive) pulls off a 33% overclock. Also, due to the size passive heatsink, the IO panel is hit - the onboard audio has only two outputs and we're limited to DVI and HDMI video. This doesn't happen on the Zotac board, which is also passive.
I've mentioned it before and I'll mention it again - heatsink. This motherboard has a massive one, with ASUS on it, just in case you forgot. The heatsink is still shorter than any full height DDR3 memory you put in the DIMM slots, and there are two fan headers found in the top left, just beside the heatsink in that corner.
There is a USB 3.0 header along the top of the board, along with a debug header, a Turbo switch, a 4-pin 12 V CPU connector and the Clear CMOS header. Unfortunately, the writing next to these is all mixed up - the writing above the turbo switch says 'DEBUG PORT' and above the Clear CMOS is 'TURBO_KEY+II'. Nowhere on the board does it say the Clear CMOS is the Clear CMOS - during bad overclocking I had to refer to the manual to find this information.
Thankfully, the front panel connectors are still on the right hand side of the DDR3 DIMM slots (unlike the ECS), and the wifi card is preinstalled in a very tight space the other side of the DIMMs. The five SATA 6 Gbps ports are also here, with USB 2.0 headers, and the MEM OK button which is ASUS' memory adaptation feature if there is incompatibility with any memory module changes. The HD Audio header is on the far left of these headers and ports, which could cause an issue depending on where the cable is coming from and what's installed on the board. There is also a full length PCIe slot - it will accept any 16x peripheral, but run it at 4x speeds, including discrete GPUs.
The I/O panel is a mixture of positive and negative. Because of the large heatsink impinging into the panel, some of the functionality is lost. Alongside the two antenna ports, we have a single PS/2 port, four USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, HDMI (1.3b) and DVI video outputs, optical S/PDIF Out, a Bluetooth receiver, an eSATA 6 Gbps port, an Ethernet port and three audio jacks. The big surprise here is that the HDMI is only 1.3b and not 1.4a...