For me, one benchmark was most important, and that was playback of a 1080P MKV. Firing up an 8GB copy of Ironman running off both the hard drive and over the network, playback was excellent and smooth. The only time I saw the playback really struggle was when you would jump forward through the movie. It would take just a second to compose itself and then be on its way again. For the most part, though, you would simply just open a movie and hit play, and in that situation you shouldn't run into any problems.
For me the playback of Hi Definition content was a big part of how I would feel about the platform at this level. With pricing being around the $100 USD mark when it comes forward, all you'll need for a home theater PC is case, PSU, HDD and RAM, all of which can be bought quite cheap.
Fusion has a long way to come still, but not in the areas you think. On the technical side of things the platform runs superbly considering its price point. These individual boards as well like the E350N-USB3 from GIGABYTE are clearly aimed at people who want a HTPC that can be feature packed, but extremely small at the same time as running extremely well with good playback of high definition content.
Where Fusion has a long way to go is in the sense that it needs to be marketed. In certain circles, like with you most likely, Fusion is a name that's become known; it's one that we can instantly associate with the next generation of mainstream computing. Fusion as AMD display is the combination of what we've traditionally known as the "Northbridge", "CPU" and "GPU" into a single chip; the AMD Fusion APU.
But there's no Fusion logo on the GIGABYTE box. There's also no Fusion logo on the ASUS box which I've seen pictures of. Instead, both have the AMD Vision logo, which is fine, but that's also present on the AMD line of video cards. When someone says I bought an "AMD Vision" system, it means nothing, and if it meant something, it would just mean that an AMD GPU is offered. This is the first and biggest mistake that AMD have done right now. The way I'm sure companies are forced to offer the "AMD Vision" logo, they should be forced to use an "AMD Fusion" one. It should be on notebooks, netbooks and motherboard boxes.
GIGABYTE have the Intel Atom logo, but for AMD and Fusion systems I'm seeing a generic "AMD Vision" one, and I say generic because it's also used on their video card line-up. People should be able to say I have an "AMD Fusion" system and they know it means something because they have laptops with the "AMD Fusion" logo, and their work PC has the "AMD Fusion" logo on it. I should be able to type "AMD Fusion" into Newegg and see every product that revolves around the "E Series" and "C Series" platforms.
Someone last year told me that AMD is an engineering company and not a marketing one. It's very true, but just because you have the best product in price and performance, it doesn't mean you will be number 1.
GIGABYTE has done a fantastic job with this board here. Connectivity options are great, there are expansion possibilities with the x16 PCI-E slot and AMD have done the right thing in regards to pricing.
On top of all those little features that make the "Fusion" platform so appealing, GIGABYTE has of course added all their little aspects which make the board so appealing for the right market. Plus you throw in the fact that Overclocking is mentioned on the back of the box and you've got to love what's going on here.
GIGABYTE has done its part, but it's now up to AMD to make people outside of the tech enthusiast want one. Having a great product is one thing; selling a great product is another.
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