George Ross, June 30, 2011
Are you trying to build low power PC that has the ability to playback full 1080p HD content on the cheap? If so then the HDC-I2 from ECS may just be what you are looking for. ECS has built the HDC-I2 with the primary goal of making it the cheapest E-350 based motherboard out there and as of right now they have succeeded. So what has been given up in order to achieve this level of pricing? Read on to find out.
ECS has done a good job of packaging the HDC-I2. The motherboard is stuffed into an anti-static bag on top of a piece of foam and sits beside the accessories and is separated from them by a cardboard divider.
The HDC-I2 has everything that is necessary to it up and running a pair of SATA cables, an I/O backplate, a user manuaThe HDC-I2 has everything that is necessary to it up and running a pair of SATA cables (only one in the pic), an I/O backplate, a user manual, and a driver CD. I purchased my board before ECS started this offer, but now you get a coupon for CyberLink's MediaShow 5.1LE and MediaEspresso 6.5 LE. This ends December 31, 2011. Offering software that takes advantage of AMD's APP (Accelerated Parallel Processing) is a good move for the customer and in helping to push parallel processing into the mainstream.
This motherboard is cooled by a passive heatsink that covers both the APU and chipset. This heatsink is very similar to the one that's featured on the 945GCD-M. There is a pair of memory slots for up to 8GB of DDR3 1066 memory. It would have been nice to see a PCI express slot instead of an older PCI slot. The HDC-I2 is only powered by a 24-pin main power connector. There is no 4-pin CPU power connector. The SATA connectors are limited to two even though the Hudson-D1 FCH (Fusion Controller Hub aka chipset) supports six SATA 2 connections. Anymore you want to see at least three SATA connectors so you can have an optical drive, a SSD drive, and a hard drive. Front panel connections include two USB 2.0 headers a front panel audio header, and a front panel LED/button header which are all are well placed. The clear CMOS header is located in amongst all the front panel connections. This makes it hard to access with all the wires and so forth in that area. Even though the HDC-I2 is passively cooled there are a couple of fan power headers a 3-pin one and a 4-pin one. Adding a cooling fan to this setup couldn't hurt as you will see later. The capacitors are a mix of solid and capped.
The attention to price is again evident when looking at the rear panel. While you do get eight USB 2.0 ports, DVI, D-Sub, and basic audio I/O there is no PS/2, HDMI, digital audio output, or S/PDIF output to speak of.
My overall impression of this board's layout is mixed. The attention paid to the price of this motherboard has stripped it of some of the Zacate platform's connectivity and expandability options. The real issue for me is the lack of SATA ports. Nowadays only having two SATA ports just doesn't cut it.
The HDC-I2 seems to perform on par with the other E-350 based motherboard.
No one is going to game with the integrated HD 6310 graphics. These tests do show the clear performance advantage that the integrated HD 6310 graphics do have over Intel's GMA 3150.
The HDC-I2 and the E351-M Pro consume the same amount of power.
While I have seen and liked other passively cooled Zacate based motherboards the HDC-I2 gets a little too hot for my taste. These tests were done in an open case environment with an ambient temperature of 24.44 degrees Celsius. I recommend that you make sure you have good air flow to anyone who would use this motherboard.
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