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Foxconn AHD1S-K review

Foxconn AHD1S-K

Verdict

Cheaper than rivals but scuppered by high temperatures, despite some good features

Review Date: 3 Mar 2011

Reviewed By: Mike Jennings

Price when reviewed: £83 (£100 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
3 stars out of 6

Features & Design
3 stars out of 6

Value for Money
4 stars out of 6

Performance
3 stars out of 6

The recent arrival of AMD Fusion, which combines processor and graphics into a single chip, hasn’t revolutionised the low-power computing market but it has, at last, provided manufacturers with a viable alternative to Intel.

Motherboard manufacturers have been quick on the uptake, first with the Gigabyte GA-E350N-USB3 and now this, Foxconn’s mini-ITX AHD1S-K. It delivers a benchmark score of 0.49, which is marginally slower than the Gigabyte, but still faster than Intel Atom-based systems we’ve seen.

As with the Gigabyte board, two full-size DIMM sockets are included instead of the SO-DIMMs we’re accustomed to seeing on Atom-based boards, and there’s support for a maximum 8GB of DDR3 memory. Both boards have a single PCI Express x16 slot, but with both it’s restricted to x4 speeds – enough for a low end graphics card but little else. It’s a shame Foxconn has been hampered by Fusion’s specification, because, physically, all its lanes are present and correct.

Foxconn AHD1S-K

The Foxconn impresses thanks to a broad range of on-board connectors. The passive cooling means that two fan connectors are free, both four-pin with PWM compared to the Gigabyte’s pair of three-pin jumpers, and there are also headers for TPM and infrared modules alongside a chassis intrusion detection connector.

All the basics are present elsewhere, too, although the AHD1S-K isn’t quite as flashy as the Gigabyte: there are just two SATA 3Gb/s ports compared to the four SATA 6Gb/s sockets on the GA-E350N-USB3, and there’s no sign of USB 3 to supplement its six USB 2 ports, HDMI, DVI-D and D-SUB outputs and PS/2 port. Even the BIOS isn’t as welcoming, with a similar range of options organised into numerous confusing categories.

And while that passive cooling sounds good, it has an unwelcome side-effect: heat. We stress-tested the board’s processing and graphical cores and found both rocketed to 100 degrees within minutes, and the heatsink didn’t dissipate heat too well, either, hitting a peak temperature of 96 degrees soon after. That’s worrying enough on our test bench; when placed in a claustrophobic chassis without any cooling, the situation won’t improve.

The Gigabyte wasn’t much better either: with a 40mm fan attached to the smaller heatsink, it hit a maximum temperature of 90 degrees with the heatsink itself hitting around 70 degrees.

At £83 exc VAT, it’s cheaper than the Gigabyte’s £105 exc VAT, and thus makes more sense if you’ve got spare components lying around. But that extreme heat puts paid to its prospects; when it reaches dangerous temperatures that quickly, we’re reluctant to recommend it.

Author: Mike Jennings

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