The perfect home server board or roll-your-own NAS? GIGABYTE's take on the E-Series 350 might not be super-powerful, but it's perfect for some uses.
So we're looking at a whole new swathe of AMD processors for desktops, notebooks and netbooks (not to mention nettops, tablets, all-in-ones etc), but the one that's really tickling our creative fancy at the moment are these E-Series 350 boards. With models from ASUS, GIGABYTE and MSI available from the begining, these admittedly not terribly powerful solutions are still getting us thinking.
What these boards represent is one of the best opportunities for home server or roll-your-own NAS solutions on the market. They are small, run quiet (or in ASUS's case, silent), have at least four SATA ports for connectivity and a PCI Express port for expansion. The APU is more than adequate for most home uses, and the integrated graphics simplifies the build.
This GIGABYTE board is a killer for a home server or NAS. The above features, plus USB 3.0 support for fast data loading, high-quality components and safety features like DualBIOS mean we've got a good chance of it lasting for the long haul, which is what you want for that use.
Desktop users or HTPC enthusiasts will like it too. The HDMI and optical SPDIF output, plus 7.1 audio means you won't be left high and dry in the lounge room. Not to mention the UVD video enhancements AMD has built in to the chip.
The only specific complaint we can think of with this board is that the SATA ports are right up tight against the PCI Express X4 slot, so you might need to remove the card when taking SATA cables out of those ports. That's far from a deal-breaker though.
So if you're considering putting together your own home server (perhaps in anticipation of the next version of Windows Home Server) or a roll-your-own NAS, this board is one to consider strongly. Available from GIGABYTE, retailing for $199
.APC rating: 8/10 (Highly Recommended)