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AMD’s latest E-350 APU + mini-ITX + passive cooling = tiny, silent, low power home theatre!

Sorry for the long standfirst, but it was hard to squeeze all the awesomeness into a single sentence. If you hadn’t already gathered, I firmly believe the E35M1-I Deluxe is 2011′s answer to a perfect home theatre upgrade.

While an Nvidia ION and Next Generation ION HTPC was very much the winner of 2009-2010, AMD’s latest E-350 APU combines a low power dual core CPU with a rockin’ 80 shader Radeon HD 6310 graphics core on the same piece of silicon. This, combined with the latest UVD3 video acceleration engine that provides HDMI 1.4 for enough bandwidth for Blu-ray 3D and bit-streaming sound pass-through, as well as native true dual-digital outputs, means it’ll handle the very latest demands of any High-Definition format.

If the E-350 APU is a little anemic for your needs though, ASUS includes its exclusive Turbo Key II overclocking switch to give it a helping boost, with the minimum of effort required from you.

The ASUS E35M1-I is another fully-featured Deluxe mini-ITX board, similar to the AT5IONT-I Deluxe we looked at last year (but that, unfortunately was never released. C’est la vie), so you know it’ll be packed with absolutely everything ASUS can possibly squeeze into a 17cm square PCB.

There are two DDR3 DIMM slots with up to 8GB of memory supported, although because it’s a low power APU the frequency support is limited to 1,066MHz so there’s no need to buy expensive modules. ASUS includes its helpful MemOK! button that provides additional compatibility beyond the certified QVL list.

Onboard there is 802.11n WiFi, Bluetooth 3.0+HS, Gigabit Ethernet, four USB 3 ports (two via rear I/O panel, two via front panel header), HDMI 1.4, DVI, five SATA 6Gbps ports, one eSATA 6Gbps port, eight USB 2 ports (four rear I/O, four front panel ports), eight channel sound (six channel via rear I/O) with S/PDIF and HDMI pass-through support and DTS Surround Sensation Ultra-PC.

There’s even a physical PCI-Express 16x slot along one edge too, however due to a limitation of the platform it’s only electrically 4x in bandwidth. This means you can still use a graphics card if you wish, however the performance will be not be as much as other mATX or ATX boards.

The five SATA posts plus one eSATA port all support the latest 6Gbps standard for the latest high-performance SSDs such as Sandforce SF-2000 Series. However, there’s no hardware RAID included like full ATX AMD boards. This obviously doesn’t stop you opting for software RAID alternatives if the OS supports it though. Five SATA might seem excessive, but wouldn’t you rather have the choice of too many rather than too few? There are those who want to create a custom server with a ton of storage. (If you make it – I want to see it!)

Another key features if the fact there’s not a single fan cooling the entire board. You can add one – nay, two – via fan headers nestled in there and the ASUS Q-Fan software can manage their cooling : noise ratio. However, as long as there’s either enough room for the super-sized heatsink to create a convection cycle, or, ambient airflow through the case, then the three heatpipe packing heatsink on the E350M1-I Deluxe will be warm, but happy.

If you’re interested in an E35M1-I Deluxe for a new build, pipe up below! We really want to see them!

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