When it comes to putting together a small functional PC for your parents or an HTPC for your living room there is a lot more to take into account than normal. In these situations noise, power usage, video performance, and cost also need to be considered. That’s what AMD had in mind when introducing their E350 with AMD Fusion Technology earlier this year. There are multiple manufactures that make and sell versions of this motherboard, but many of them don’t have Gigabytes features. Today we are going to take a closer look at the Gigabyte E350N-USB3 and hopefully show that it is capable of doing quite a lot.
Product Name: Gigabyte E350N-USB3
Review Sample Provided by: Gigabyte
Review by: Wes
Pictures by: Wes
Built in with an AMD E-350 Dual-Core processor
Built in with an AMD Radeon HD 6310 (DirectX 11) graphics core
2 x 1.5V DDR3 DIMM sockets supporting up to 8 GB of system memory
* Due to Windows 32-bit operating system limitation, when more than 4 GB of physical memory is installed, the actual memory size displayed will be less than 4 GB.
Single channel memory architecture
Support for DDR3 1333(OC)/1066 MHz memory modules
Integrated in the APU:
1 x D-Sub port
1 x DVI-D port, supporting a maximum resolution of 1920x1200
* The DVI-D port does not support D-Sub connector by adapter.
1 x HDMI port, supporting a maximum resolution of 1920x1200
Realtek ALC892 codec
High Definition Audio
Support for Dolby Home Theater
Support for S/PDIF Out
1 x Realtek 8111E chip (10/100/1000 Mbit)
1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x4
-4 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors supporting up to 4 SATA 6Gb/s devices
* SATA3 2x performance are maximum theoretical values. Actual performance may vary by system configuration.
-Up to 8 USB 2.0/1.1 ports (4 on the back panel, 4 via the USB brackets connected to the internal USB headers)
-Renasas D720200 chip:
Up to 2 USB 3.0 ports on the back panel
* USB 3.0 10x performance is a maximum theoretical value. Actual performance may vary by system configuration.
Internal I/O Connectors
1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector
1 x 4-pin ATX 12V power connector
4 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
1 x CPU fan header
1 x system fan header
1 x front panel header
1 x front panel audio header
1 x S/PDIF Out header
2 x USB 2.0/1.1 headers
1 x debug card header
* This port is mainly used by repair technicians for debugging and problem diagnosis.
1 x chassis intrusion header
1 x power LED header
1 x clearing CMOS jumper
Back Panel Connectors
1 x PS/2 keyboard/ mouse port
1 x D-Sub port
1 x DVI-D port
1 x HDMI port
1 x optical S/PDIF Out connector
4 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
2 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports
1 x RJ-45 port
6 x audio jacks (Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out/Rear Speaker Out/Side Speaker Out/Line In/Line Out/Microphone)
ITE IT8720 chip
System voltage detection
CPU/System temperature detection
CPU/System fan speed detection
2 x 16 Mbit flash
Use of licensed AWARD BIOS
Support for DualBIOS™
PnP 1.0a, DMI 2.0, SM BIOS 2.4, ACPI 1.0b
Support for @BIOS
Support for Q-Flash
Support for Xpress BIOS Rescue
Support for Download Center
Support for Xpress Install
Support for Xpress Recovery2
Support for EasyTune
* Available functions in EasyTune may differ by motherboard model.
Support for Smart Recovery
Support for Auto Green
Support for On/Off Charge
Support for Q-Share
Norton Internet Security (OEM version)
Support for Microsoft Windows 7/ Vista/ XP
Mini-ITX; 17.0cm x 17.0cm
It’s obvious right away that this isn’t your standard motherboard when you see the packaging for the E350N. Gigabyte struggled to fit all of their normal information on the front of the box due to its size. You will find all of the needed information with the USB 3.0, USB power 3x, and SATA 3 in big logos on the front. Around back they have graphs showing what each of those three features can do for you along with a few other descriptions of the E350N’s features.
Inside when you open the box up you are greeted first by the manual. It’s almost comical because the manual is nearly the same size of the motherboard. Next you will find the Mini ITX motherboard in a static protective bag. Under the motherboard you can find all of the other included accessories including two SATA cables, your driver disc, and rear I/O panel.
You would think because of the size there wouldn’t be much to talk about when it comes to the E350N-USB3’s board layout. But Gigabyte packed a lot into such a small space as you can see!
Being an E350 chipset the E350N-USB3 comes with the Fusion APU right from the start. That includes a heatsink that takes up a good portion of the board to keep everything cool. The black heatsink stands out on Gigebyte’s blue PCB. For a little added cooling they did include a small fan on the heatsink incase you end up using the E350N-USB3 in a location with limited airflow.
The rear I/O panel takes up the entire side of the board but is filled with more connections than even some full ATX boards. You will find a total of six USB connections, with two of those being USB 3.0 (I think the boards name may have given this away). For audio you have the standard HD audio connection (pink, grey, black, green, blue, orange) and then also a S/PDIF Out. You get one 10/100/1000 Ethernet connection to keep you connected to the world. For those of you using legacy equipment or who are looking for no ghosting you also get one PS/2 connection. Where it gets interesting is the selection of video connections available on the E350N-USB3. You have VGA, DVI, and HDMI. No matter what you are trying to hook this board up to you shouldn’t have any trouble.
For those of you who are addicted to packing hard drives into your build or if you are considering this board for a NAS box you have a total of four SATA 3 connections available. For most people this should be more than enough, unless you are trying to go crazy with onboard storage for an HTPC. It’s also nice to see all of the SATA connections be full SATA 3, no point in having a mix of old and new connections.
Because of the boards size you are limited to just one PCI Express x4 slot. Perfect if you are looking to add a RAID card in the future. I can’t imagine you could need much of anything else. In this picture you can also see the front panel audio connection on the left just behind the rear I/O panel..
On the bottom right corner of the board you have both the 24 pin power connection and the front panel header together. Along with them both you also have a three pin fan header. I really dig that the front i/o header is color coded clearly enough that everyone should be able to get everything hooked up without problems.
In the following image you can see the ITE IT8720F controller chip that helps control the fan speed on the E350N-USB3. This is also a good view of the two DDR3 ram slots. They are both light blue in color and because it is just the two slots you don’t have to worry about putting your Ram in the wrong channel; win!
Gigabyte went with the full blue PCB on the E350N-USB3 as you can see in this photo. The four mounts for the heatsink are also visible. If you were wondering if you could change the included heatsink this should answer your question. Even though it is removable, I doubt you ill find a heatsink to match up.
The E350N-USB3’s BIOS is a standard Award Software BIOS. Compared to most of Gigabytes other motherboards the BIOS options are a little limited but I was still very impressed with all of the available overclocking options. Without any options for swapping to an aftermarket cooling it’s amazing that they would let you dig right into voltage adjustments like they do. Here is a video walkthrough of the BIOS to give you a chance to see everything it has to offer.
Our Test Rig
Gigabyte E350N-USB3 Motherboard/APU
Cooler Master 1200 Watt Gold Series PSU
80GB Hard Drive
OCZ 1600Mhz DDR3 RAM
Our Testing Procedure
Here is a full listing of each benchmark we used during our testing. We have detailed everything needed to duplicate our tests. If you have any questions please use the contact us page to contact us and we would be happy to answer them. Your results could vary depending on PC configuration, drivers, and Windows condition.
Aida64 – Formally Everest ADIA64 is a full benchmark suite. For CPU benchmarking we run CPU Queen, CPU PhotoWorxx, CPU ZLib, CPU AES, CPU Hash, FPU VP8, FPU Julia, FPU Mandel, and FPU SinJulia.
Breakdowns on each benchmark from AIDA64
CPU Queen – “This simple integer benchmark focuses on the branch prediction capabilities and the misprediction penalties of the CPU. It finds the solutions for the classic "Queens problem" on a 10 by 10 sized chessboard. At the same clock speed theoretically the processor with the shorter pipeline and smaller misprediction penalties will attain higher benchmark scores. For example -- with HyperThreading disabled -- the Intel Northwood core processors get higher scores than the Intel Prescott core based ones due to the 20-step vs 31-step long pipeline. CPU Queen test uses integer MMX, SSE2 and SSSE3 optimizations.”
CPU PhotoWorxx - It performs the following tasks on a very large RGB image:
-Rotate 90 degrees CW
-Rotate 90 degrees CCW
-Fill the image with random colored pixels
-Color to black & white conversion
This benchmark stresses the integer arithmetic and multiplication execution units of the CPU and also the memory subsystem. Due to the fact that this test performs high memory read/write traffic, it cannot effectively scale in situations where more than 2 processing threads used. For example, on a 8-way Pentium III Xeon system the 8 processing threads will be "fighting" over the memory, creating a serious bottleneck that would lead to as low scores as a 2-way or 4-way similar processor based system could achieve. CPU PhotoWorxx test uses only the basic x86 instructions, and it is HyperThreading, multi-processor (SMP) and multi-core (CMP) aware.
CPU ZLib - This integer benchmark measures combined CPU and memory subsystem performance through the public ZLib compression library. CPU ZLib test uses only the basic x86 instructions, and it is HyperThreading, multi-processor (SMP) and multi-core (CMP) aware.
CPU AES - This benchmark measures CPU performance using AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) data encryption. In cryptography AES is a symmetric-key encryption standard. AES is used in several compression tools today, like 7z, RAR, WinZip, and also in disk encryption solutions like BitLocker, FileVault (Mac OS X), TrueCrypt.
CPU AES test uses only the basic x86 instructions, and it's hardware accelerated on VIA PadLock Security Engine capable VIA C3, VIA C7, VIA Nano and VIA QuadCore processors; and on Intel AES-NI instruction set extension capable processors. The test is HyperThreading, multi-processor (SMP) and multi-core (CMP) aware.
CPU Hash - This benchmark measures CPU performance using the SHA1 hashing algorithm defined in the Federal Information Processing Standards Publication 180-3. The code behind this benchmark method is written in Assembly, and it is optimized for every popular AMD, Intel and VIA processor core variants by utilizing the appropriate MMX, MMX+/SSE, SSE2, SSSE3, AVX or XOP instruction set extension. CPU Hash benchmark is hardware accelerated on VIA PadLock Security Engine capable VIA C7, VIA Nano and VIA QuadCore processors.
FPU VP8 Benchmark -This benchmark measures video compression performance using the Google VP8 (WebM) video codec Version 0.9.5 (http://www.webmproject.org). FPU VP8 test encodes 1280x720 pixel ("HD ready") resolution video frames in 1-pass mode at 8192 kbps bitrate with best quality settings. The content of the frames are generated by the FPU Julia fractal module. The code behind this benchmark method utilizes the appropriate MMX, SSE2 or SSSE3 instruction set extension, and it is HyperThreading, multi-processor (SMP) and multi-core (CMP) aware.
FPU Julia Benchmark - This benchmark measures the single precision (also known as 32-bit) floating-point performance through the computation of several frames of the popular "Julia" fractal. The code behind this benchmark method is written in Assembly, and it is extremely optimized for every popular AMD, Intel and VIA processor core variants by utilizing the appropriate x87, 3DNow!, 3DNow!+, SSE, AVX or FMA4 instruction set extension. FPU Julia test is HyperThreading, multi-processor (SMP) and multi-core (CMP) aware.
FPU Mandel Benchmark - This benchmark measures the double precision (also known as 64-bit) floating-point performance through the computation of several frames of the popular "Mandelbrot" fractal. The code behind this benchmark method is written in Assembly, and it is extremely optimized for every popular AMD, Intel and VIA processor core variants by utilizing the appropriate x87, SSE2, AVX or FMA4 instruction set extension. FPU Mandel test is HyperThreading, multi-processor (SMP) and multi-core (CMP) aware.
FPU SinJulia Benchmark - This benchmark measures the extended precision (also known as 80-bit) floating-point performance through the computation of a single frame of a modified "Julia" fractal. The code behind this benchmark method is written in Assembly, and it is extremely optimized for every popular AMD, Intel and VIA processor core variants by utilizing trigonometric and exponential x87 instructions. FPU SinJulia is HyperThreading, multi-processor (SMP) and multi-core (CMP) aware.
Cinebench - CINEBENCH is a real-world cross platform test suite that evaluates your computer's performance capabilities. CINEBENCH is based on MAXON's award-winning animation software CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. The test procedure consists of two main components - the graphics card performance test and the CPU performance test.
Main Processor Performance (CPU)
The test scenario uses all of your system's processing power to render a photorealistic 3D scene (from the viral "No Keyframes" animation by AixSponza). This scene makes use of various algorithms to stress all available processor cores.
In fact, CINEBENCH can measure systems with up to 64 processor threads. ThIS test scene contains approximately 2,000 objects which in turn contain more than 300,000 polygons in total, and uses sharp and blurred reflections, area lights, shadows, procedural shaders, antialiasing, and much more. The result is displayed in points (pts). The higher the number, the faster your processor.
Graphics Card Performance (OpenGL)
This procedure uses a complex 3D scene depicting a car chase (by renderbaron) which measures the performance of your graphics card in OpenGL mode. The performance depends on various factors, such as the GPU processor on your hardware, but also on the drivers used. The graphics card has to display a huge amount of geometry (nearly 1 million polygons) and textures, as well as a variety of effects, such as environments, bump maps, transparency, lighting and more to evaluate the performance across different disciplines and give a good average overview of the capabilities of your graphics hardware. The result given is measured in frames per second (fps). The higher the number, the faster your graphics card.
Floating Point Math
Find Prime Numbers
Physics String Sorting
Sandra - We use Sandra’s software specifically for their Arithmetic testing on the CPU. Whetstone testing is great to see how well a CPU can handle floating-point arithmetic. We also do Dhrystone that is similar but for integer and string operations.
Designed by the guys behind PCWorld, Worldbench is a benchmark designed to use applications and utility’s that everyone uses day to day and benchmark their performance. This gives the most accurate REAL world results, something that no other benchmark does. Being fully automated, WorldBench 6's application tests are scripted to run consecutively, and those results are automatically combined and compared against a baseline system. Popular applications like Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop and Mozilla Firefox are each used as they would be in real-world situations to comprise the final WorldBench score.
WPrime – Perfect for testing the multithreading of multiple core CPU’s. “wPrime uses a recursive call of Newton's method for estimating functions, with f(x)=x2-k, where k is the number we're sqrting, until Sgn(f(x)/f'(x)) does not equal that of the previous iteration, starting with an estimation of k/2. It then uses an iterative calling of the estimation method a set amount of times to increase the accuracy of the results. It then confirms that n(k)2=k to ensure the calculation was correct. It repeats this for all numbers from 1 to the requested maximum.”
X264 HD – X264 HD is a CPU encoding benchmark. Using the x264 codec this test encodes a video file and times its performance.
We run the entire collection of Futuremark’s PC and 3D benchmarks. Although they are synthetic, they do run consistent benchmarks on both in game performance and PC performance. Their new PCMark 7 does an amazing job of testing real world programs including web page loading speed and other activities nearly everyone does on their PC daily.
3DMark Vantage Performance
In tests like String Sorting and Compression the results are dominated by the i7-2600 and its 8 threads. But in tests like Floating Point Math the E350N-USB3 fairs much better at least when compared to Intel’s 2 core i3.
It’s easy to spot the results from the E350N-USB3 in our PCMark 7 results. Even though it doesn’t compare to the power of Sandy Bridge and the A8-3800, it’s still capable of powering through everything PCMark 7 had to offer.
Our PCMark Vantage graph is missing a few results as you can see. Our Sandy Bridge and A8 testing was done on an SSD and the E350N-USB3 was tested with a much slower platter drive. The same goes for the gaming results, comparing the integrated video on the E350 to two GTX 580’s in SLI wouldn’t be a fair fight. Having said that you can still see how things came out on the CPU specific results.
As you can see the E350 is a little weak in the arithmetic testing. The hyper threading and multiple cores on the Sandy Bridge CPU’s just dominate.
Wprime put the E350 to work in both its 1024M and 32M tests. Our results show the E350N-USB3 at about ¼ the speed of the other configurations in the test.
To test the E350’s video encoding performance we went with X264 HD. With X264 HD a higher score is better. As you can see the results show the little E350N-USB3 performing well, but still a world apart from the much more powerful A8 and Intel offerings.
Our AIDA64 results show the E350N-USB3 having around ¼ the performance when compared to the A8 and Sandy Bridge.
Our Cinebench results are similar to what we have seen in our other benchmarks. I should point out on the Open GL results; this is using the onboard GPU of the E350N-USB3 unlike the two GTX 580’s used in all of the Sandy Bridge results. The onboard results may not come near the other results, but still packs a punch.
Our 3DMark testing of the E350N-USB3 was extremely limited compared to our past testing. Along with the Performance setting test we would normally also perform a High setting benchmark but without a dedicated GPU this task was just too much for the low power E350. But that is to be expected, the E350N-USB3 is NOT a gaming motherboard. We just went ahead with our tests just to see where it stood. At less than 2000 on the CPU score it’s not going to win any records, but it’s still more than capable of basic computing.
I saved the best for last on our benchmarks. Worldbench uses real world programs as the benchmark. This is a more accurate way of judging the performance you should expect from your CPU. Our past benchmarks on the E350 showed it performing at near ¼ the performance of the A8 and Sandy Bridge CPU’s. In WorldBench our results in world bench show the results being close to ½ the performance. Photoshop and Autodesk show a little close to 1/4, but it’s still interesting to see real world performance showing such a difference.
Overall and FV
Don’t let the test results fool you, even at 1/3 of the performance of its big brother the A8. The E350N-USB3 is still more than capable of playing HD content and that’s what it’s truly made to do. The Mini ITX form factor, all in one design, and low power usage all mean the E350N-USB3 is the perfect board for someone who needs basic PC or an HTPC. In fact during our testing the E350N-USB3 spent most of its time doubling as an HTPC and file server. A few large capacity drives thrown in with everything hooked up to a big screen and you have the power friendly board pulling double duty. Even while doing both we never experienced any issues, slowdowns, or hiccups. Gigabyte did a good job making sure the E350N-USB3 had all of the features we have grown to expect from a Gigabyte board including USB 3.0, boosted USB power, and SATA 3.0 ports. If that wasn’t enough you also have a PCI Express slot on the off chance your looking to increase its gaming performance in the future. One thing is for sure, you won’t need to put it to use for HD playback.