More AMD Brazos Motherboards - ASUS and Sapphire Tested!

Sapphire Pure Fusion Mini E350

Sapphire Pure Fusion Mini E350

Sapphire has gone with the popular mini-ITX route that most of the other Brazos manufacturers have opted for. While that is not surprising, we were however not too pleased with Sapphire's decision to go with SO-DIMM slots instead of full-sized DIMM slots. On hindsight, it's likely that Sapphire had no choice but to go with the smaller SO-DIMM due to space restrictions, but our initial impression was one of dismay since going with SO-DIMM is probably going to cause more hassle for the average user. After all, it's less likely that one has SO-DIMM memory modules lying around.

Once we got past the matter of getting the right memory, the cause for the use of SO-DIMM probably has to do with the presence of a mini-PCIe slot on this board. It's an interesting decision, though we have seen other vendors try that for boards of smaller form factors. While this Sapphire came without any mini-PCIe module, we can easily imagine savvy users installing their own to add functionality like Wi-Fi.

In fact, given the possible use-case scenarios for such a small Brazos system, we would have preferred Wi-Fi functionality out of the box, but at least Sapphire makes it easy enough to add that. Instead of Wi-Fi however, Sapphire did add a Bluetooth module, with the antenna protruding from the rear panel.

Besides what we have highlighted, the Sapphire Pure Fusion Mini E350 is similar to the other Brazos mini-iTX boards we have seen in terms of features. One gets a PCIe x16 slot for a discrete graphics card (which operates at x4 bandwonly) and up to five SATA 6Gbps ports, including an eSATA port at the back.

 Sapphire has chosen a mini-ITX form factor, though we were initially surprised by the presence of SO-DIMM slots.

Besides the novelty of seeing a Bluetooth module on this board, the rear panel has the usual trio of display outputs, the audio jacks and optical S/PDIF output and even USB 3.0 ports.

Sapphire provides five SATA 6Gbps ports like the ASUS, which is one more than some other vendors.

The single PCIe 2.0 x16 slot along with the mini-PCIe slot.

We are not fans of SO-DIMM on desktops, even if they are small, mini-ITX ones. But we can guess the reason for doing so.

USB 2.0 headers for your casing's front panel, along with a debug LED.

The more conventional cooler fan heatsink combo that's found on most Brazos boards.

Despite the layout on the Sapphire being different from the other Brazos mini-ITX boards, we did not find anything serious that will affect its usability. Meanwhile, the BIOS used is also an UEFI variant from AMI and though there are boards with more options out there, the one on the Sapphire was pretty decent and usable. Obviously, this board came with rather basic options that suit its market segment.

Finally, we weren't able to obtain a local quote for this board, but Newegg has it listed at US$140, which is only slightly less than the ASUS E35M1-M PRO.

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