Sapphire Pure Fusion Mini E350 Review



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

Summary & Conclusions

As a front-end media player, Sapphire's Pure Fusion Mini E350 hits all the right checkboxes - it has low power, great media playback performance and all right connectivity and expansion options. It's priced quite competitively at around $130USD, which is the low end of the price point these niche small form factor boards tend to inhabit. Sapphire plans to release a more bare-bones version for under $100 soon, as was demonstrated at the recent Computex exhibition in Taiwan.

Sapphire Pure Fusion Mini E-350

Right now, select etailers including Newegg are selling the Sapphire Pure Fusion Mini E350 with a $10 mail in rebate, and free AMD Gift Cyberlink MediaEspresso and Mediashow 5.1, useful software for exploring and transcoding your pictures, movies and music files. The packaging is tiny, even though you get a nice package of driver CD, I/O shield and SATA cables to go with the quick start guide. The latest drivers can be downloaded from Sapphire's website, linked via the enclosed driver disc, where you can find the full product manual as well. Updating the BIOS via USB is easy, thanks to Sapphire's use of the HP USB boot tool and simple instructions.

The decision to use DDR3 SO-DIMM slots allowed Sapphire to add a mini PCI-Express (mPCI-E) x1 slot, which is an inspired choice. Adding a WAN or WLAN card or a Digital tuner is now simple, or even a mPCI-E SSD, keeping the foot print as small as possible. This lends itself to custom building into all kinds of form factors and cases, beyond the nice selection of tiny cases with external power bricks that are a great choice for these boards.

A platform in the TDP of an Energy Efficient Processor

It's a shame there are no overclocking or advanced tweaking options for the APU and memory, as that would round out the board and make it complete. As this is a brand new platform technology, it might take a while for the more common overclocking options to appear, but basic options like memory timing and voltage control really ought to be included, and mouse control in the APTIO would be nice. Boot from PXE is supported, but not iSCSI target or NFS volume despite being supported by AMI. This would be a sweet option for a thin-PC.

The Sapphire Pure Fusion Mini E350 is a great board for specialized builds where basic productivity and HD media consumption is required. Bluetooth, USB 3 and SATA-3 6Gbps ensure you've got storage performance and capacity however you need it, even down to a serial port for your old Lego Mindstorms controller. As more OpenCL and DirectCompute applications appear, AMD accelerated parallel processing will deliver more performance and value making this an even better buy as time goes on. The only detracting attribute we can find is HDMI 1.3b instead of 1.4, to support Blu-ray 3D. We award 4 1/2 stars!