After all the excitement surrounding new CPU platforms from both AMD (Fusion) and Intel (Sandy Bridge), the industry has settled down to churning out these new products. Intel had a slightly rough time due to a glitch in its Cougar Point chipsets (P67, H67), but the worst is over and revised Sandy Bridge motherboards have been making its way to the retail channels. With the next wave of new CPUs and motherboards not expected till the middle of the year, it gives us some time to catch up with the many boards that have made their way to our labs.
While there are plenty of choices when it comes to Intel based boards, new AMD boards are few and far in between. Not surprisingly, the ones we have seen are all based on AMD's Fusion initiative, using the Brazos platform which is targeted at the lower end of the market for both desktops and mobile. It's something that we have covered previously here, and we personally feel that this platform has definite advantages over its competition in certain scenarios and price points.
AMD is expected to expand further on its Fusion theme with newer Accelerated Processing Units or APUs, as AMD calls these new breed of processors. These upcoming Llano APUs are reported to hit the market in July and will be more powerful (and more expensive) than the entry level Brazos. Whether they will be able to compete effectively against Intel is up for debate but we have seen enough of Brazos to feel reasonably optimistic.
In any case, it's all speculation at this point in time. What we do have here today are two more Brazos motherboards. Each comes with a Zacate APU (E-350 running at 1.6GHz) embedded within, so all you need to do is to slap on some memory modules, some storage and you're good to go. Like the other Brazos so far, they are in smaller form factors than the standard ATX, but while the Sapphire Pure Fusion Mini E350 keeps to the mini-ITX size we are familiar with, ASUS has opted for a larger micro-ATX form factor for its E35M1-M PRO. You can compare their specs here.
Click the jump to find out what we thought about these two Brazos boards.