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

Article Index

Our Summary and Conclusion

Performance Summary:  All things considered, in light of some other competing low-power platforms, the Zotac ZBox Blu-Ray AD03 Plus and Gigabyte E350N-USB3 performed very well. In terms of CPU and overall system performance, the AMD E-350 APU-based Zotac and Gigabyte configurations clearly outran Intel Atom-based systems, even when the latter were paired to NVIDIA Ion GPUs. In one of our game tests, an Ion 2-equipped Atom system held onto a small performance advantage in the OpenGL ET:QW benchmark, but the lead vanishes in our DirectX-based 3DMark Vantage and Left 4 Dead tests. In comparison to the AMD Zacate reference platform, these two retail-ready products from Zotac and Gigabyte also showed nice performance improvements in a couple of tests, most likely due to driver optimization that will inevitably come as the products mature. The only Achilles’ heal with both E-350 APU based configurations at this point is lackluster Flash video acceleration, but we’re confident that will be addressed in future drivers and versions of the Flash player.

There’s a lot to like about the AMD E-350 APU-based Zotac ZBox Blu-Ray AD03 Plus and Gigabyte E350N-USB3.

Let’s start with the ZBox. Zotac is currently offering two versions of this product, the AD03 barebones kit for $439.99 and the AD03 Plus which includes 2GB of RAM and a 250GB hard drive for $529.99. While those prices are not cheap, considering the ultra-sleek small form factor and performance and features offered by the E-350 and its supporting hardware as configured by Zotac, we can’t complain much. If you price out a complete DIY HTPC which includes Blu-Ray, WiFi, and a similar storage configuration, it’s easy to spend well over $400, and we guarantee the rig won’t be as small or sleek as the Zbox. With that said, we’d lean towards the barebones offering, because the AD03 Plus is just begging for more memory and a faster drive.

Gigabyte’s E350N-USB3 is also interesting. This board is available for about $149 at some popular on-line retailers. For under $150, the E350N-USB3 offers a low-power CPU, SFF motherboard with USB 3.0 support, and a DX11 graphics core. Add a case, some memory, and storage, and you’ve got yourself a complete system that can serve a variety of needs.  Couple the board with the right case and drives, etc. and it would be well suited as an HTPC, low-power server, or even a spare desktop or kitchen PC.

Considering its low-power and inexpensive foundation, Zacate APUs like the E-350 are never going to burn up the benchmarks or offer the kind of performance of even a relatively low-cost, full-sized desktop PC. But they do make for compelling, low profile, low-power, feature-rich and affordable system options.


Zotac ZBox Blu-Ray AD03 Plus, Gigabyte E350N-USB3
 

  • Low Power
  • Integrated DX11 Graphics Core
  • Affordable

       

     

    • Flash Video Acceleration still a work in progress

     


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