Sapphire Pure Fusion Mini E350 Review



Product: Sapphire Pure Fusion Mini E350
Company: Sapphire
Author: James Prior
Editor: Charles Oliver
Date: June 13th, 2011

Usability

On the previous page we demonstrated the difference in compute power using synthetic tests. What now follows is our evaluation of desktop and application use, in common home computing tasks. The E-350 APU scores a 3.7 in our Windows 7 WEI testing:

Windows System Properties

As noted, only 2.87GB of our installed 4GB is usable, thanks to the combination of BIOS system resource allocation and 32-bit addressing. That's still a handy amount, and the E-350 APU supports AMD64 (naturally!) so installing 8GB and a 64-bit variant OS will also work.

Windows Experience Index

In our informal multi-tasking testing, we found the system perfectly capable of running multiple applications. Switching between multiple PDFs and Word documents, while surfing the Web in IE9 with multiple tabs open, was smooth and easy. Moving to manipulating documents in Adobe Photoshop Elements 7, things started to slow down as this more serious application required more resources. Closing other applications didn't help much, indicating this is an application and clock speed limitation rather than a multi-tasking or memory limitation one; future revisions, with support for OpenCL and GPGPU, should perform better. Editing a single photo, even a 12MP one, was possible but time consuming - as is to be expected from the bottom end VISION platform. Similarly, basic video editing with ArcSoft MediaImpression works, but isn't speedy. Again, with this doesn't help us today, future OpenCL accelerated versions should be able to leverage not only the UVD transcode function but the SIMD array for AMD Video processing effects, too.

E-350 APU Netflix Playback

HTML 5 is here, kinda, and with it GPU accelerated browsers. AMD's Radeon HD 6310 and Catalyst 11.5b support WebGL and various codecs, when presented in a browser that supports them. Two such browsers are Internet Explorer 9 and Firefox 4. We tested Netflix (Silverlight), Youtube (Flash and HTML5), and Hulu (Flash) websites. All sites performed well in full screen 1080p resolution on the E-350 APU, with the limiting factor on quality being our net connection rather than the graphics processor. This was not the case on the HD 3200 iGPU, where adjustments to AMD's post processing video effects are required to maintain frame rate, despite the fewer options available vs. the HD 6310.

Locally sourced media playback is the same story, with the E-350 APU offering great performance and quality at 1080p for Blu-ray, DVD and reference DiVX/H.264 encoded files. Non-commercially encoded media, perhaps found on the Internet, may not look as good, as the quality isn't quite the same and some encoders choose options not compatible with standard media playback with hardware acceleration through DXVA (for example, more reference frames than found in typical AVC encoded media). In these cases, the CPU section of the APU has to pick up the slack and may be found wanting at 1080p. Blu-ray 3D playback isn't possible, as the board doesn't support HDMI 1.4a, which is one of the key UVD 3 features. Kinda puzzling, really.

One of the biggest reasons to buy this board is for a low power, small form factor is for HTPC, as a media center extender. The APU doesn't have the horsepower for running on-the-fly transcoding for streaming to other devices, while playing media, although this may be more of a description of a CPU-limited process leaving APU resources on the table, rather than a true limitation of the power of the processor.