Sapphire Pure Fusion Mini E350 Review



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

Gaming Performance

The Radeon HD 6310 is definitely not a gaming monster, being for all intents and purposes a Radeon HD 5450 with lowered clocks. However, gaming doesn't have to be a HD 1080p 120fps experience to be fun; there are plenty of casual games that are actually a bigger market than the AAA titles grabbing the headlines. These can be broken down into two categories, online flash/web games and locally installed games. To test gaming performance we tried a few different titles, both local and online.

Angry Birds should be familiar to everyone, and recently it was made available as an online game through Google Chrome apps. Thanks to open standards, the game works in IE9 and Firefox 4 as well, so even if you're not a hipster you can still enjoy the delicious thrills of attacking green egg-stealing porkers with an avian assault team.

E-350 APU: Angry Birds in Web Browser

The E-350 APU was notably smoother and more fun to play Angry Birds on the web than the Zino HD. AMD system monitor shows the Zino HD system working harder to deliver the goods, and not quite being able to do it. Switching to local apps, like Bejewelled 2 and Zuma Deluxe, the experiences were identical and plenty of fun (if that's your thing). Dropping the resolution from 1080 to 1280x720 we tried some fullscreen 3D gaming using basic titles like Hot Wheels Beat That and Disney's Cars. The E-350 APU was able to run higher settings and remain playable, where the Zino HD was not. The difference in API support didn't matter, as none of the titles tested used DirectX 10, let alone 11. Performance in educational and popular kid's websites was tested, such as pbskids.org, nickjr.com and ceebeebies.com. All the games and activities worked well on both systems, leaving the differentiator between platforms as power usage. Our kill-a-watt meter died an untimely death in a recent thunderstorm, so were unable to record in-use power. However, with the Zino HD's older technology and use of CPU, iGPU chipset and southbridge, it's a good estimate to say the Fusion platform runs around 12-15W idle and 25W under load, where the Zino HD runs around 35W idle and 60W load.

Zino HD: Angry Birds in Web Browser

Talking with AMD, we raised the subject of Fusion Hybrid Crossfire - perhaps like the AMD 890GX chipset with the HD 4290 and HD 5450. While this is technically possibly, we were told that the balance of CPU to GPU in the Fusion E-350 makes this impractical, as the gains wouldn't be fully realized. Couple this to how few people are likely to consider that configuration, and it is obvious why no resources have yet been devoted to the process. Undeterred, we decided to run Futuremark 3DMark11 on the APU and with a Radeon HD 5570 installed. We recorded a gain of ~700 points by doing so, for a score of around 900 3DMarks, using the performance preset. This demonstrates that under certain conditions, the GPU could stand to be increased in size and that perhaps a HD 5450 hybrid Crossfire with the HD 6310 would be worthwhile, although the full effects of the x4 bandwidth PEG slot would need to be considered as well.

E-350 APU with 5570: Angry Birds in Web Browser

Image Quality

Finally, we looked at Anisotropic Filtering (AF), where we found our guess that the SIMD is using Evergreen technology to be correct - the kernel transitions match what we've seen with the AMD ATI Radeon HD 5000 series, which delivers angle independence but can be seen to introduce artifacts at kernel boundaries. In practice, we concluded this formed no real issues but it's worth noting that the Radeon cores labeled HD 6310 are in fact from the 5000 family - the UVD update is the entry point to the 6000 series moniker. Below you can see the AF in action, demonstrating kernel transitions and angle dependency. Click the image thumbnail for full size version.

HD 6310 Angle Dependency
HD 6310 Kernel Transitions