Foxconn AHD1S-K review
Cheaper than rivals but scuppered by high temperatures, despite some good features
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.
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.
|Price ex VAT||£83|
|Price inc VAT||£100|
|Features & Design||3|
|Value for Money||4|
|Motherboard form factor||Mini ITX|
|Motherboard integrated graphics||yes|
|Processor/platform brand (manufacturer)||AMD|
|Motherboard form factor||Mini ITX|
|Motherboard chipset||AMD Fusion|
|Number of Ethernet adapters||1|
|Wired adapter speed||1,000Mbits/sec|
|Graphics chipset||AMD Radeon HD 6130|
|CPU power connector type||4-pin|
|Main power connector||ATX 24-pin|
|Memory sockets total||2|
|Internal SATA connectors||2|
|Internal PATA connectors||0|
|Internal floppy connectors||0|
|Conventional PCI slots total||0|
|PCI-E x16 slots total||1|
|PCI-E x8 slots total||0|
|PCI-E x4 slots total||0|
|PCI-E x1 slots total||0|
|USB ports (downstream)||6|
|Optical S/PDIF audio output ports||1|
|Electrical S/PDIF audio ports||0|
|3.5mm audio jacks||6|
|9-pin serial ports||0|
|Extra port backplane bracket ports||none|
Diagnostics and tweaking
|Motherboard onboard power switch?||no|
|Motherboard onboard reset switch?||no|
|SATA cables supplied||1|
|Molex to SATA adaters supplied||0|
|IDE cables supplied||0|
|Floppy cables supplied||0|