Final Words

With the settlement done and no DMI license in place, it's clear that there won't be another ION from NVIDIA (at least not based on x86). What Brazos is however is the ION successor that NVIDIA never built. For just over $100 you'll be able to buy a mini-ITX board with an E-350 that's faster than Atom, faster than ION and more feature rich than both. While I don't believe Brazos has enough CPU power under the hood to be a truly high end HTPC, it's easily good enough for a low cost, value HTPC. Popular codecs are well accelerated and with full DTS-HD MA and Dolby TrueHD bitstreaming support Brazos is solid. Flash acceleration is also present although it looks like there are still some kinks that need to be worked out there.

Overall performance is much better than Atom, particularly in single threaded applications. Brazos and the E-350 can make for a very affordable email/web browsing machine, and run those applications much faster than Atom could. As our more complex workloads showed however, the E-350 is limited to the same type of general usage models as Atom (with a bunch of new media and gaming options). You can run heavier apps on the E-350, you'll just be far better off with an Athlon II instead.

The Radeon HD 6310 proves to be a good match for the Bobcat cores in the E-350. There's not much value in adding a faster GPU via the on-board PCIe x4 slot as most games will be at least somewhat CPU bound. The resulting CPU/GPU combination is something that's typically as good as, if not better than Intel's Core i5 661 in games. In some cases the Radeon HD 6310/E-350 combination nips at the heels of Intel's Core i3 2100. Unfortunately in modern titles that's not always enough to have a playable experience, but with older games you should be able to do more with Brazos than you ever could with Atom or even ION for that matter. The CPU/GPU balance in the E-350 is good enough that I feel like Llano could make for a pretty decent value gaming machine.

Just as was the case with Atom, Brazos isn't going make for a very powerful primary PC. Load up the thread count or throw heavier workloads at it and the E-350 doesn't look all that much better than an Atom D510. What it will give you however is better single-threaded performance than Atom and a much better feature set. Brazos makes those secondary or tertiary computers you build much better than they would have been otherwise with Atom. I would like to see more CPU performance out of the platform and I'm not too keen on meeting the single core versions, but viewed through ION glasses Brazos looks good.

For AMD, Brazos has to be exciting. The company finally has a value offering that it doesn't have to discount heavily to sell. Brazos does very well against Atom on absolute performance, die size and price. The E-350 isn't the most powerful Fusion APU we'll meet, but it's a great way to introduce the family.

Heavy Lifting: Performance in Complex Workloads
POST A COMMENT

176 Comments

View All Comments

  • msroadkill612 - Friday, February 4, 2011 - link

    I thought I read somewhere that the GPU shared the L2 cache with the cpu Reply
  • ElRey - Tuesday, February 8, 2011 - link

    Add me to the list of folks wanting to know if this is powerful enough to use as a DVR / HTPC build (ie. not just streaming).

    Is the partial help for encoding in the E-350 good enough? I know the USB tuner I have has pretty high requirements. Maybe there is a better tuner that could go in the PCI-E slot?

    It would be cool to see a HTPC shootout with this, Sandy Bridge i3, and the Athlon II mentioned in the article.
    Reply
  • msroadkill612 - Tuesday, February 8, 2011 - link

    I saw one mobo which had 1 x pcie, 1 pci, and 2 of the little pcie slots, so you do have other options.

    personally i would only consider a a dual tuner card (take care - they also refer to analogue/digital as dual tuner).

    The nature of free to air is that the good shows are always shown at the same time.
    Reply
  • silverblue - Monday, February 21, 2011 - link

    http://www.asus.com/product.aspx?P_ID=qSoDxhM5mAk1...

    £110 inc. VAT in the UK and it's not even passively cooled, nor does it have WiFi.

    The Deluxe model offers DTS Surround Sensation and a couple more USB 3.0 ports, plus comes in Mini ITX as opposed to uATX. Both seem to offer performance as well as power saving settings, and 5 SATAIII ports. I'd expect the Deluxe to be very difficult to find, however.
    Reply
  • misterg - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    Quick question: I am considering to use an e-350 brazos as a small and very power efficient system that runs windows 7 in the metering cupboard. Display keyboard mouse will not be needed, other than when installing the system.

    The OS (win7) run from a USB stick
    Some storage in 2.5" disks is added but spun down when not accessed
    PicoPSU or other very efficient PSU
    Low voltage / eco RAM

    What is a realistic power envelope for this when at idle? The 24 watt does not sound really great to me, I'm hoping to be able to reach well below 10 watts..
    Reply
  • FDIV-Bug - Monday, May 9, 2011 - link

    Hey guys!

    I have the same MSI E350IA-E45 board with Windows 7 SP1 x64 installed, but a cant log cpu usage.
    I already tried Core Temp 99.8 (log only one core), AMD Overdrive 3.2.3.0457 (it doesn't even open) and AMD AMD System Monitor Version 1.0.5 (just doesn't log correctly) .

    If you have any suggestions, I'm all ears
    Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now