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
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  • rpsgc - Thursday, January 27, 2011 - link

    It will run at x4 (comparable to PCI-E 1.1 x8) Reply
  • rpsgc - Thursday, January 27, 2011 - link

    Since I can't edit my post...

    ... look here for the performance penalty of running at x4 versus x16
    http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/AMD/HD_5870_PCI...
    Reply
  • codedivine - Thursday, January 27, 2011 - link

    Thanks! Reply
  • codedivine - Thursday, January 27, 2011 - link

    I was wondering if it is possible to overclock this mobo+APU combo? Reply
  • allzhat - Thursday, March 15, 2012 - link

    I use K10stat to increase the multiplier for my notebook (e350) from x16 to x18 (1800Mhz)or even x22 (2200Mhz), but I can't feel more performance for this APU but it draw more power consumption and heat of course

    I suggest to use gamebooster for heavy application

    PS: I'm sorry for my bad english
    Reply
  • nitrousoxide - Thursday, January 27, 2011 - link

    So an SSD really makes difference on Brazos platform? Now I can place my order :)

    My choice is Corsair Nova 64GB since it is the cheapest drive with the minimum accpetable space I need. Any drive cheaper than this one is not big enough and bigger ones are more expensive... Hope its low Random Read performance doesn't impact much, at least faster than an HDD!
    Reply
  • Dark_Archonis - Friday, January 28, 2011 - link

    Being cheap with SSDs? Good luck when you suffer reliability problems with your SSD. Reply
  • nitrousoxide - Friday, January 28, 2011 - link

    Guess what? Somebody ran an durability test for an Intel X-25V, a non-stop read--write-erase cycle for 300 days and still working. Performance began to drop after 6 months, but keep in mind that this stress test is over 20 times beyond daily use. So it actually takes years to destroy an SSD, without SF controller, of course :) Reply
  • mariush - Sunday, January 30, 2011 - link

    A sample of ONE is by no means enough. The same person could have tested a second SSD and have it die on him after a week.

    After all that's what MTBF is all about - the average time for a failure in a population of identical devices.
    Reply
  • Ethaniel - Thursday, January 27, 2011 - link

    Is it me or the Nano X2 just beats the crap out of both Brazos and Atom? Can we get a review of that chip, Anand? Reply

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