More AMD Brazos Motherboards - ASUS and Sapphire Tested!

ASUS E35M1-M Pro

ASUS E35M1-M Pro

While most of the manufacturers appear to favor the mini-ITX form factor, ASUS has gone with a micro-ATX design. Obviously, the benefits include more PCB space for features and ASUS has taken the liberty to include quite a mix of features, from puzzling ones like COM and LPT ports to the usual proprietary ASUS technologies that we didn't expect to find on an entry-level platform. If you're inclined towards the smaller mini-ITX form factor however, ASUS does have the E35M1-I DELUXE as an alternative.

Perhaps due to the freedom of having more space, ASUS is able to fit a completely passive heatsink for the CPU and chipset (or Fusion Controller Hub). This contrasts with the other Brazos motherboards we have seen, which all rely on a single small fan to cool the heatsink. It does mean that if a totally silent solution is the main criteria, this ASUS board is likely your best bet.

Besides the passive heatsink, the E35M1-M PRO is clad in the usual blue shades that ASUS has been using in recent times. The specifications of this board are fairly standard, with a single channel DDR3 memory architecture supporting up to 8GB of DDR3-1066 memory. The integrated graphics on the APU (Radeon HD 6310, clocked at 500MHz) can draw on this pool of system memory. The processing cores of course are at 1.6GHz, though it runs at 800MHz during idle moments, which helps account for the relatively low 18W TDP for the platform. 

It's larger than many other Brazos motherboards despite being a micro-ATX form factor.

Due to the integrated graphics, there are three display outputs, VGA, HDMI and DVI. The other ports include USB 3.0, FireWire, eSATA and optical S/PDIF.

The ASUS has 1 more onboard SATA ports than the other Brazos boards we have seen. There's also an eSATA port at the rear panel. All SATA 6Gbps capable of course.

Some of the extra PCB space have been used to add more headers for USB, FireWire, COM and even LPT.

The USB 3.0 support comes from an ASmedia controller, a change from the more popular NEC controller. We assume cost is a reason for the switch. Besides the PCIe 2.0 x16 slot for a discrete graphics card, ASUS has also included two PCI slots. Also seen is the usual VIA FireWire controller.

The large single heatsink that cools the chipset and processor. We were surprised that there is no cooling fan on the heatsink.

Thanks to the spacious PCB, there are no layout issues on this board. Clearing the BIOS is easy with the jumper in clear sight and reach, while the SATA ports are mostly aligned properly at the edge of the board. The extensive support for legacy devices (no IDE though) does seem to suggest that ASUS is throwing everything at it and seeing what sticks. One gets the feeling that this board lacks a certain focus - we have no clear idea what market segment it is trying to reach with its blend of entry level performance and mid-range features.

This feeling is particularly strong when one plays with the UEFI BIOS on this board - it's similar to the BIOS that you'll find on ASUS' latest high-end boards (with the appropriate settings of course). There was an option to overclock the base clock and even an auto-overclocking utility. We wonder how many of the intended users for this board will bother to try them out. Take for example the numerous ASUS' technologies that are included. With the exception of the BIOS flashing utility, we bet none of them will see actual use.

We suppose it may cost ASUS little to nothing to implement these features, many of which are software based. At S$245, the ASUS E35M1-M PRO is not exactly that cheap compared to other Brazos boards (though Newegg has it for US$145, which when converted is just S$186).

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