AMD Fusion Hits Retail: Zotac and Gigabyte E-350s

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Introduction and the ZBox Blu-Ray AD03 Plus

We have been hearing about AMD’s Fusion initiative for what seems like an eternity. In fact, some of the very first posts regarding Fusion hit this site of ours way back in 2006. Many things have happened within AMD since those early announcements and rumors began swirling, most notably AMD’s acquisition of ATI.  However, it was only recently that AMD’s efforts with Fusion have actually beared fruit; at least fruit that’s ready for public consumption.

Over the last few months especially, AMD has once again begun aggressively talking up Fusion and showing off a number of Fusion-based products, targeted at various price points and market segments. It was back in November that we got our first official hands-on with one of AMD’s Fusion-based products, the low-power Zacate platform. That first look and follow-up performance preview made use of an AMD reference platform, however, and not a product that was ready for store shelves.

Recently, a smattering of products based on Zacate and its lower-power cousin, Ontario, have since begun trickling out to retail and we’ve gotten our hands on two of them for some in-house testing. Although they are based on the same AMD E-350 APU (Accelerated Processing Unit), the Gigabyte E350N-USB3 and Zotac Zbox Blu-Ray AD03 Plus are two very different products. The Gigabyte E350N-USB3 is a mini-ITX mobo featuring an E-350 APU targeting the DIY crowd, while the Zotac Zbox is a sleek, highly-integrated, full-featured HTPC. Let’s take a look at the new ZBox first and then we’ll evaluate performance to see how these retail-ready AMD E-350 APU-based products fare against some competing low-power platforms and AMD’s own reference system we checked out a few months back.

The Gigabyte E350N-USB3 Perched Atop The Zotac ZBox Blu-Ray AD03 Plus

Zotac ZBox Blu-ray AD03 Plus
Specifications & Features

The specifications and features of the Zotac Zbox Blu-Ray AD03 Plus are detailed in the table above. As you can see, the product is based on the dual-core AMD E-350 APU, which features an integrated DX11-class Radeon HD 6310 graphics core. The APU is paired to the AMD M1 chipset and the internals reside in an ultra small form factor, custom designed enclosure. Two models of the Zotac Zbox Blu-Ray AD03 are available, the standard version which does not include any memory or a hard drive and the “Plus” edition, which we looked at, that is bundled with 2GB of RAM and a 250GB hard drive. Please note, however, that no OS is installed on the system—you’ll have to install one yourself.

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