In our budget CPU roundup earlier this year, AMD's Kabini Athlon 5350 squared off against Intel's Bay Trail-D Celeron J1900, showing itself to be better at gaming and encoding workloads while Intel's chip used 30% less power and kept up in performance elsewhere.
Although both require a similar initial investment and provide comparable overall performance, we found AMD package more attractive when taking upgradability into account as Intel's BGA packaging sees Bay Trail-D chips soldered directly to motherboards.
As AMD's top AM1 APU, the Athlon 5350 has four Jaguar cores running at 2.05GHz, 2MB of L2 cache and a 128-SPU GCN GPU. Similarly, Intel's quad-core Celeron J1900 runs at 2.0 - 2.42GHz, has the same cache and is paired with an Ivy Bridge-era IGP set 688-854MHz.
With these two platforms so evenly matched, we're curious to see whether Asrock's latest Bay Trail-D creation can help give Intel an edge. The Q2900-ITX ships with a Pentium J2900 on a Mini-ITX board for $104, pricing it straight against AMD's Athlon 5350.
Intel's Pentium J2900 looks nearly identical to the company's Celeron J1900 at first glance as both are quad-core parts without Hyper-Threading, feature 2MB of L2 cache, support up to 8GB of DDR3L-1333 RAM and even share the same Intel HD graphics engine.
Where they differ is in raw clock speed. The Pentium can run its processing cores 20% higher at 2.41GHz with a 10% higher maximum boost frequency at 2.66GHz while its GPU has the Celeron's base clock but can burst as high as 896MHz instead of 854MHz.
At $104, the Q2900-ITX seems like a solid foundation for a compact and quiet budget rig, shipping with not only the quad-core J2900 but a fanless design to reduce or eliminate system noise.
The board supports a single PCIe 2.0 x1 port, mini-PCIe port and three graphics outputs, including VGA, DVI and HDMI. For storage, there are two SATA 3Gb/s ports connected to the J2900 processor, while the ASMedia ASM1061 chip has been used to provide a pair of SATA 6Gb/s ports.
Although Intel's specification calls for a maximum memory capacity of 8GB, the Q2900-ITX claims it will support 16GB of memory.
Asrock has included Gigabit LAN using the Realtek RTL8111GR controller and 7.1 Channel HD audio with content protection using the Realtek ALC892 audio codec.
There is no shortage of USB 3.0 support either, with two ports found at the I/O panel and another two via an onboard header which are connected to the ASMedia ASM1074 chip.
For a budget motherboard the Q2900-ITX is surprisingly well equipped and the mini-PCIe port means adding a wireless solution should be cheap and easy.
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