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AMD Fusion - Brazos Motherboards Tested!

By Vincent Chang - 26 Jan 2011

Gigabyte GA-E350N-USB3

Gigabyte GA-E350N-USB3

Next up, Gigabyte's E350N-USB3 has its main selling point right on its name - USB 3.0. Thanks to the usual third-party controller, the Gigabyte comes with two USB 3.0 ports at the back. It helps to make this board more modern than the ASRock and complements the native SATA 6Gbps support nicely. Besides this addition, the board features are similar to what we have seen on the ASRock - a single PCIe 2.0 x16, four SATA 6Gbps ports and two DDR3 DIMM slots. There are some minor differences in implementation however.

For instance, one gets DDR3 1333MHz support on the Gigabyte, though only up to a maximum of 8GB memory. Realistically, it's more than adequate given that a single 4GB memory module is more likely to be readily available than a 8GB version currently. There's only a single heatsink that covers both the chipset and the APU, and the small cooling fan runs rather quiet. Temperatures of the heatsink however are slightly higher than the ASRock board and hovered between 40 and 46.5 degrees Celsius.

 The next Brazos board, the Gigabyte GA-E350N-USB3, looks mostly similar to the ASRock, but Gigabyte has gone with a single, large heatsink for both the APU and the chipset, rather than two distinct heatsinks. Gigabyte also has added USB 3.0 ports.

Compared to the ASRock, the main difference is the presence of two USB 3.0 ports in blue. It also means you'll get just four USB 2.0 connectors instead.

Four SATA 6Gbps ports are placed quite close to the PCIe 2.0  x16 slot but perhaps unavoidable due to the limited PCB area.

Another difference - the Gigabyte supports up to 1333MHz DDR3 compared to 1066MHz on the ASRock. From what we have seen, 1333MHz is the official norm for the platform.

USB 3.0 support from a NEC controller as usual.

Again, unlike the ASRock, a 4-pin ATX power connector is located on the Gigabyte in addition to the 24-pin connector.

The unified heatsink with cooler on the Gigabyte board cools both the chipset and the APU. It's relatively quiet at its default settings.

Overall, the layout of the Gigabyte is not significantly different from the ASRock. Gigabyte has managed to add its own touches, in the form of its proprietary technologies. So you get Ultra Durable 3, ensuring that you'll only find solid capacitors onboard along with twice the usual copper content in the PCB. Its ON/OFF charge feature also helps to charge your iPhone/iPod devices quickly from the USB ports.

On the other hand, there's no EFI BIOS for the Gigabyte. It's the usual Gigabyte BIOS and while there's nothing wrong with it, there's just the impression that Gigabyte missed a chance to show its innovative side here. The BIOS does have some overclocking leeway, including a 20MHz (100 to 120MHz) range for the CPU host clock and even a maximum shared memory of up to 1024MB. Users can also tweak the VGA clock manually, between 300 to 2000MHz. The default is 500MHz of course.

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