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.

Visual Inspection

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...

Hudson-M1: Why would I want it? ASUS E35M1-I Deluxe: BIOS and Overclocking
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  • sprockkets - Thursday, July 14, 2011 - link

    I have the AsRock board. I get 18w idle and 24w under load via a killawatt device. Granted it uses an 80w power supply, but I'm kinda wondering how you got 59w for something that is practically the same setup in each board. Reply
  • IanCutress - Thursday, July 14, 2011 - link

    I was using a less than ideal power supply for the power draw tests which was very inefficient in this range (<20% of maximum power), and unfortunately I don't have anything more appropriate at hand to test with. The comparisons (I believe) between the boards are more than relevant though. I will hopefully rectify this in future reviews of lower powered systems.

    Ian
    Reply
  • formulav8 - Thursday, July 14, 2011 - link

    Why didn't you wait to do power consumption tests then? Reply
  • bah12 - Thursday, July 14, 2011 - link

    While not ideal, I'd say the whole point of this article was to illustrate the differences in the boards. Thus as long as they all suffered from the same inefficient PS, the information is not useless in that you can still draw a conclusion based on the differences at the board level. All and all, not ideal but useful. Reply
  • BushLin - Friday, July 15, 2011 - link

    I once tried to reason with the fanboys at AMDZone on Anands behalf, defending that the reviews here were objective... I think I'm starting to believe that their might be some truth in their beliefs that the odds are stacked against AMD when their products are reviewed on here.

    At best, this review is a misguided. It focuses far too heavily on areas these systems are not aimed at, misinforms (or fails to inform) on areas that it's market are interested in and answers stupid questions that no-one is asking. Testing a GTX 580 with an E-350 at 4x PCI-E... really? Why not test out how well these work as a HTPC compared to something like ION and the latest Atom?

    At worst, this review could almost be seen as a deliberate undermining of a technology that's potentially superior to it's Intel's offering and how often could you honestly say that since Core2?. Most of the tests are irrelevant (or become irrelevant when comparing to much higher TDP chips), the one test you did manage to do which is very relevant (power consumption) was so high that it prompted me to look at other reviews and take the time to write this comment!

    This review has idle power consumption as at least 36w, Xbit have it at 7.3w even with a 880w PSU. One of these reviews has it very wrong, I know which one I'm more inclined to believe.
    http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/cpu/display/amd-e...
    Reply
  • IKeelU - Friday, July 15, 2011 - link

    I have to agree with your assessment of the review.

    - These boards are aimed at HTPC market, but the review was focused...elsewhere (frankly, I can't tell what the focus was).
    - How is the audio quality? I was very interested in the ASUS board until I noticed it doesn't have 6-channel direct out. This is important!
    - Another, less important, point: The features/specs for each board should come first. Double points for a feature comparison table.
    Reply
  • AnandThenMan - Friday, July 15, 2011 - link

    It is extremely unfortunate that Anandtech has sacrificed their integrity when it comes to reviewing some of AMD's products. I really hope that more and more people are made aware of what is going on, these reviews are downright dishonest.

    The most important question people need to ask is, why is this happening? What is the incentive for Anandtech.com to publish these misleading reviews?
    Reply
  • ET - Saturday, July 16, 2011 - link

    Can you explain what is dishonest or misleading about this review? I agree that it could be better, but I don't see anything to indicate that anything was falsified here. Reply
  • medi01 - Sunday, July 17, 2011 - link

    Seriously?

    Cough "This review has idle power consumption as at least 36w, Xbit have it at 7.3w even with a 880w PSU. ", cough?

    Oh, it's irrelevant, because we're comparing motherboards of the same platform? Orly? What if I read this, say "OMG it consumes so much energy" and go buy Atom?

    Tell me how to get that 36w idle thing, what kind of PSU should be used, to justify 7.3w (with bloody 880w PSU!!!!) vs 36w please?

    What are 5850 580gtx doing in this review?

    Shameless...
    Reply
  • Finraziel - Thursday, September 1, 2011 - link

    Monstrously late reply... but I just can't not leave this comment... Did any of you actually read the xbit article? Those power draw measurements are measured between the PSU and the components, only measuring what the components are actually using, completely ignoring the efficiency of the PSU (the way xbitlabs has been testing for years I might add). So the fact that they were using an 880W PSU has absolutely zero bearing on their readings.
    Granted, it's still a shame that these boards couldn't have been tested with something like a pico psu, and I do agree the article could have been better (for instance, how much noise does that tiny fan on the ECS board actually make? apart from an easily missed remark in the conclusion nothing is said about it), but it's not as bad as you people are making it out to be.
    Reply

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