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::>Motherboards > 2014 > 04 > MSI AM1I

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11-04-2014


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Motherboard MSI AM1I for platform AMD AM1 review and performance testing

In one of our previous materials we’ve introduced AMD Athlon 5350 processor of AMD Kabini family for platform AMD AM1. For testing AMD Company has kindly provided us not only with processor, but also the motherboard ASRock AM1B-ITX. In the present article we are going to consider the motherboard MSI AM1I. This compact solution performed in Mini-ITX format is used as a part of AMD AM1 platform. However before proceeding to review of a new product let’s briefly recall what AMD AM1 platform is in general and processors of AMD Kabini line in particular.

MSI AM1I

First of all it is important to understand that the issue of this platform does not have the aims to get the peak performance and it is focused on building of the most affordable and energy-efficient PC especially in developing countries with low income.

MSI AM1I

According to the manufacturer the price for set of the processor and the motherboard is approximately $ 65~75 for AMD Sempron 3850 and $ 95 for more efficient AMD Athlon 5350.

MSI AM1I

Processors of AMD AM1 platform are made in SoC format. They include not only computational but also graphics core as well as a number of controllers.

Such step will have a positive influence on the final cost of the motherboard and greatly simplify its topology. Taking into account of the affordable price, the support of four lines of interface PCI Express 2.0x16, and the presence of performance graphics core as part of APU AMD Kabini, the most popular option of operation of this platform is the operation as part of HTPC. Note one more advantage i.e. very modest power consumption. More detailed description of features of the platform AMD AM1 can be found in the review of the AMD Athlon 5350. So we are going to learn the features of the MSI AM1I motherboard.

MSI AM1I 

The specs:

Producer

MSI

Model

AM1I (rev 1.0)

CPU Socket

Socket AM1

Supported CPUs

AMD Athlon / AMD Sempron

Memory frequency

1600 / 1333 MHz

Memory support

2 x DDR3 DIMM-slots with memory support up to 32GB

Expansion slots

1 x PCI Express 2.0 x4

1 x mini-PCI Express

Disk subsystem

SATA controller in APU composition supports:

2 x SATA 6 Gb/s

LAN

1 x Realtek RTL8111G (10/100/1000 Мб/с)

Audio subsystem

Realtek ALC887 Codec

2 / 4 / 5.1 / 7.1-channel sound

Power connectors

24-pin ATX main power connector

4-pin ATX 12V power ATX12V

Fans

1 x CPU fan connector (3-pin)

1 x system fan connector (4-pin)

External I/O

1 х DVI-D

1 x D-Sub

1 x HDMI

1 x LAN (RJ45)

2 x USB 3.0

2 x USB 2.0

3 x audio ports

2 х PS/2 (mouse and keyboard)

Internal I/O

2 x USB 2.0, each with support of 2 USB 2.0

4 x SATA 6 Gb/s

1 х TPM socket

1 х COM socket

1 x connector of audio output to front panel

1 x set of front panel connectors

1 x CMOS jumper

BIOS

AMI BIOS

Packaging

User manual

Warranty description booklet

Driver disc

2 x SATA cables

1 х faceplate of interface panel

Form factor,

dimensions

Mini-ITX

170 х 170 mm

Producer’s website

MSI
Updated versions of BIOS and drives are available here со страницы поддержки

Packaging and content

MSI AM1I 

Despite the belonging to low-cost market segment and predicted moderate price, MSI AM1I package is made of qualitative carton box. The typography is quite strict and dark colors predominate. Traditionally it has yellow and blue colors. The front side includes the name of producer company, model of the device, and a logo of Military Class 4 conception.  Lower part contains the logo of additional advantages and key features:

  • Military Class 4 – new product design includes only solid-state capacitors Dark CAP with life time (more ten years) and Dark Choke with ferrite core.
  • Military Class Essentials – provides the usage of improved design of motherboard that protects inner components against moisture and electromagnetic influence. Additional chips and safety devices protect against electrostatic discharges and the usage of high quality Military Class 4 basis expands the range of working temperatures.
  • Fast Boot. Using set of MSI Fast Boot software you can speed up the loading of operating system.

The support of USB 3.0 and SATA 6 Gb/s and MSI Live Update 5 software is noted additionally.

MSI AM1I

The reverse side of the box contains diagrammatic representation of interface panel of MSI AM1I motherboard, its technical description as well as detailed description of abovementioned advantages.

MSI AM1I

Set of delivery is pretty standard. It includes necessary documentation, driver disk, two SATA cables and faceplate of interface panel.

Design and features   

MSI AM1I 

A new product is performed in dark-brown Mini-ITX circuit board (170 х 170 mm). Regarding packaging, at first sight we have typical representative of compact MSI motherboard. But there is one significant difference, namely the absence of chipset. Actually it is not required because its functionality is in CPU. We would like to note that DIMM slots are equipped with locks only on one side and elements are placed on sufficient distance from each other to simplify the access during assembling. As a result we do not have any remarks about key elements arrangement.

MSI AM1I 

The reverse side of MSI AM1I does not have any important elements. The standard support plate of CPU socket is also absent. It became due to low level of TDP processors of AMD Kabini family. 

MSI AM1I 

Most of the ports and connectors are centered in the lower part. Here are: front panel leading-in socket, COM and TPM connectors, and mini-PCI Express slot where it is possible to install, for example wireless interface module.
The possibility of disk subsystem organization is limited by two SATA 6 Gb/s ports, which operate through the controller as part of the processor.

MSI AM1I 

socket for audio sockets and two slots to activate additional USB 2.0 interfaces. Total number of USB 2.0 ports is six: four inner and two on the interface panel. Its correct operation is provided by controller as a part of CPU which supports eight USB2.0 interfaces.

Regarding modern USB 3.0 ports. There are only 2 outside ports. Its operation coordination is provided by integrated controller. 

MSI AM1I 

MSI AM1I system board is equipped with two DIMM slots to install RAM modules of DDR3 standard. Memory panels operating at frequency up to 1600 MHz in nominal mode are supported.

Despite the mentioned by manufacturer support of RAM with capacity 32 GB, the actual capacity was no more 16 GB due to the absence of memory panels exceeding 8 GB. But this value will be enough to fulfill all mentioned tasks. Integrated controller supports only single-channel mode of memory module operation.

Also on the right side you will find both sockets for fan connection: one for CPU cooling system (3-pin) and the second for system fan (4-pin).

MSI AM1I 

MSI AM1I

Power supply of CPU is realized via 3-phase scheme for computational cores and additional components. The convertor is based on Intersil 62771 pulse-width modulation controller. Product circuitry consists of high-quality components in accordance with Military Class 4 design. These components are certified according military standard MIL-STD-810G. They have solid-state Dark CAP capacitors and Dark Choke with ferrite core. To provide the required supply voltage there are main 24-pin and additional 4-pin sockets.

Due to the fact that motherboard does not have chipset, during testing we have measured the temperature only on CPU power subsystem elements. Its maximum index was 38,2°C which means a good result.

MSI AM1I

The expansion of MSI AM1I  model functionality is can be carried out via two slots:

  • PCI Express 2.0 x16 (х4mode);
  • mini-PCI Express.

According the specification of AMD AM1, there are only four lines for PCI Express 2.0 х16 slot. Therefore discrete video card operation will be ineffective. Probably this slot will be used for any multimedia expansion card, for example to install discrete audio card or TV-tuner. But slot mini-PCI Express can be used for installation of wireless interface module. This will allow to extend network capabilities of assembled PC.    

MSI AM1I

As the majority of interfaces and monitoring system is realized by CPU, Fintek F71808AU enables only COM operation.

MSI AM1I 

GB LAN-controller Realtek RTL8111G is used for support of network connection.

MSI AM1I 

Audio subsystem of the present motherboard is based on 8-channel HDA-codec Realtek ALC887 that supports 2/4/5.1/7.1. sound system.

MSI AM1I 

MSI AM1I interface panel combines the following ports:

  • 1 x HDMI;
  • 1 x DVI-D;
  • 1 x D-Sub;
  • 1 x LAN (RJ45);
  • 2 x USB 3.0;
  • 2 x USB 2.0;
  • 3 x audio port;
  • 2 x PS/2 (keyboard and mouse).

Taking into account the fact that we deal with entry level motherboard, such packaging of interface panel can be considered as pretty good.  Of course we would like to see more USB ports and more comfortable connection of multichannel acoustics, but this will lead to the increase of production cost and its total price. In addition we want to note a quite good set of video outputs including HDMI port with resolution capacity 3840x2160 pixels (4K Ultra HD).


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