If you've been itching to building a Fusion-based HTPC, the wait is nearly over. First shown during CES, MSI officially greeted
its AMD Brazos-powered E350IA-E45 Mini-ITX motherboard with a press release earlier this week. The board will come with AMD's E-350 "Zacate" APU pre-installed, which has two 1.6GHz Bobcat processor cores paired and an integrated Radeon HD 6130 with a total TDP of only 18W.
Despite that low thermal envelope, MSI has opted to install a small fan along with the heatsink instead of relying strictly on passive cooling like Asus' E35M1-I Deluxe A50M. The company doesn't mention noise levels, but we'd expect the fan to be nearly inaudible given the board's intended purpose.
The E350IA-E45 has two unoccupied DIMM slots with support for up to 8GB of DDR3 1333MHz RAM, and it has a single PCIe x16 slot (limited to x4 speeds) in case you want to install a discrete graphics card. I/O includes gigabit Ethernet, four SATA 6Gb/s, 10 USB 2.0 (four via headers), two USB 3.0, PS/2, 7.1-channel audio with S/PDIF-out, as well as D-Sub and HDMI outputs that are wired to the IGP.
We haven't seen any pricing information for MSI's board, but Asus' competing product is expected to be €153 (roughly equivalent to $210). That seems expensive, but it's a reasonable premium over the slower Atom/Ion HTPC boards. Shipments should begin by the end of January or early February.