Today we shall review a motherboard that, while its features are rich enough, is positioned as a more typical solution. But thanks to that it's also affordable.
The layout is quite reasonable: SATA ports are situated at the edge, unlike counterparts from MSI and Gigabyte on which these connectors are located closer to the center.
There's also a second connector for a system fan. Although people rarely install multiple fans into compact machines, two slow ones can make less noise than a faster fan, especially if you can't control its speed and the enclosure is inexpensive.
The cooler is probably the simplest such a motherboard can have. There are two heatsinks with no decorations or anything fancy. On top of the processor heatsink is a 40-mm fan. And I must say it's far less noisier than the one mounted on MSI E350IA-E45. Even at the maximum speed (~4000 rpm).
The cooler is efficient enough for the fan to slow down when the system in under light load. Besides, you can fine-tune cooling in BIOS so that noise doesn't exceed 30 dBA at any given time.
Note three primary video interfaces: VGA, DVI and HDMI. Any one of the two digial outputs can be used simultaneously with VGA in the extended desktop mode.
ASRock engineers made good use of chipset features and provided a eSATA 6Gbps interface. As well as USB 3.0 (in E350M1/USB3). Although our modification only has USB 2.0, it's sort of 'overclocked' for higher transfer rates, as you will see in test results below.
The CPU VRM has 3 phases, there are 5 efficient MOSFETs, 3 x 820µF and 2 x 270µF capacitors. Looks like a toy compared with full-sized motherboards, but even it has a certain reserve, considering processor's TDP of 18W and the lack of overclocking capabilities.
ASRock E350M1 comes in a box which seems big enough to hold some kind of reduced µATX board as well.
Accessories are isn't very interesting, although one SATA cable has latches. The bundled software is richer than usual: aside from drivers and antivirus there's a CyberLink DVD Suite trial, Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi software and AIWI, an utility that lets you control certain applications and games using iPhone as a remote control.
ASRock E350M1 is based on an AMD E350 processor and an AMD M1 Hudson Southbridge. It supports up to 8GB of DDR3-800/1066/1333 memory and has four internal SATA 6Gbps ports. The list of available controllers is below.
- Integrated audio based on the 7.1-channel Realtek ALC892 HDA codec. There's an optical S/PDIF Out on the back panel. Unfortunately, I couldn't conduct full testing in Rightmark Audio Analyzer, because even at maximum volume the signal level was only -25 dBA. This may result in problems with passive speakers or headphones. And considering that noise level isn't proportionally lower, the dynamic range is bound to be lower than usual for this codec.
- Gigabit Ethernet based on Realtek RTL8111E (PCIe x1).
- System monitoring based on NuvoTon NCT5572D. You can set desired temperature to maintain (45°C to 65°C) and desired processor fan speed (1 to 9; higher levels mean higher minimal speed). You can also adjust system fan speeds separately (1 to 9 as well).
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