It's important to keep in mind that, like the Atom platform, the AMD Fusion Brazos architecture is designed to be low powered and cost effective. While it will serve well as a low-end HTPC or basic computer for e-mail and Web surfing, it's not meant to replace your primary workstation. Although we were impressed with the integrated Radeon HD 6310 GPU's performance, the E-350 lacks the raw CPU horsepower to be suitable for a high-end HTPC.
Compared to the Atom, we found the E-350 to be much more powerful. The E-350 was more responsive than the Atom 330 for basic use, while the Radeon HD 6310 trumped the Nvidia Ion in virtually every 3D application we tested. Furthermore, the E-350 offers more features than the Atom/Ion combo as well as support for full DTS-HD MA and Dolby TrueHD bitstreaming.
Motherboards such as the Asus E35M1-M Pro have a full-length PCIe x16 slot with x4 bandwidth, but we don't recommend installing a beefier graphics card. The integrated Radeon HD 6310 was already being limited by the Bobcat cores in some of the games we tested, so adding a discrete card would jack up the power consumption for little gain. By itself, the E-350 was very impressive in the power department, chugging slightly less juice than the Atom 330/Nvidia Ion combination.
Looking past AMD's new chip, we think Asus deserves some attention for its work on the E35M1-M Pro. For roughly $140, we are impressed with how feature-packed the board is, shipping with Asus' EPU, Anti-Surge Protection, TurboV, Turbo Key II and EFI BIOS (EZ Mode). The board's design is also top-notch and we appreciate the use of a large passive heatsink instead of the small fan that more common designs have.
Overall, the AMD Fusion E-350 is an impressive little package, especially considering its ~$100 price tag. While we're excited about the Brazos architecture and what AMD has already achieved with it, we're eager to see more Fusion APUs. After all, the Intel Atom platform has been around for almost three years now, so AMD still has a lot of catching up to do.