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
When I started this review, I mentioned that this board has won quite a few awards around the world for all the extras, despite it being the most expensive Fusion board on the market. Even when I contacted ASUS for a review sample, they said they were very proud of how this board performed. Undoubtedly, I can see the virtues - completely passive, ready connected onboard wifi with room for space-age looking antennae and a detailed UEFI with working fan header control. However, a couple of things are on the negative side - it was quite a long process to correct a failed overclock when boot recovery wouldn't initialise, there are only three ports of audio out on the back panel, the HDMI port is only 1.3b, and performance compared to other boards (particularly the ECS with that 33% overclock option) let it down. A board with an award has to be above the rest - one that I would use myself on a daily basis with no fuss or some minor room for improvement, but also competitively priced. The board is good, and people will buy it and love it, but $175 is too much in my opinion.
The main thing about the ECS that's hard to ignore is that automatic overclock option. Having 33% free of anything is usually a good idea, so when it comes part of the package with very little increase in power consumption, it is a good thing. As a result, all the benchmarks and all the games had much, much higher scores than the other boards we tested. A couple of areas let the ECS board down though - the front panel connectors are in an odd place, there's no physical connector for the wifi aerial (have to use a spare PCI card holder), and the other boards we tested were passive (I don't find this much of an issue personally as the fan was inaudible, but others may suggest otherwise). If this comes onto the market at its suggested retail price, it's a serious option for people wanting to go down the Fusion route with a little more horsepower under their belts. It's not enough to win an award, but it's worth a look.
Zotac Fusion-ITX Wifi
It's been quite a long time since I've dealt with a motherboard that required SO-DIMM memory. But a system such as Hudson-M1 which can only support DDR3-1333, it makes sense as long as there's no price difference between the normal memory and SO-DIMM. It allows the manufacturer to free up real estate on the motherboard for other bells and whistles. Unfortunately, Zotac haven't taken advantage of that. The main positive of this board is the passiveness of the heatsink which works well, and becomes something to consider with aggressive pricing (currently $125 with rebate on newegg.com at time of writing). But the performance of the Zotac leaves something to be desired, there's no overclocking and no utilities to deal with (that could be a positive or a negative depending on your perspective).