The ASUS AM1M-A is a socket AM1 motherboard for the new “Kabini” Sempron and Athlon CPUs from AMD. It comes with two SATA-600 and four USB 3.0 ports. Let’s take a look at this inexpensive product.
The AM1 platform from AMD uses a new concept: a socketed SoC (System-on-a-Chip) CPU. Usually, SoC processors, which include the CPU, the GPU, and the chipset in a single low-power chip, come soldered on the motherboard. But with the AM1 platform, processors use a new socket and are sold separately from the motherboard. Officially, AM1 is the platform name and the socket is called FS1b; however, the socket has been called “socket AM1” by users and motherboard manufacturers.
The first CPUs based on this platform to arrive on the market are the new Sempron and Athlon processors codenamed “Kabini.”
The direct competitors of the AM1 processors are Celeron and Pentium CPUs from the J and N families, like the Celeron J1800 that comes with the ASRock D1800M motherboard, which we already analyzed. Both platforms are aimed on low-cost, low-power desktop PCs, however the models from Intel have a TDP of only 10 W, while models from AMD have a TDP of 25 W.
A interesting detail on AM1 motherboards is that there is no chipset, as it is included in the processor. The motherboard only has the voltage regulator, audio codec, Ethernet controller, Super I/O chip, and mechanical connections with memory, SATA devices, expansion slots, and external peripherals. Because of this, AM1 motherboard are typically inexpensive. The motherboard can, however, offer extra features, such as additional USB 3.0 or SATA ports.
In Figure 1, you see the ASUS AM1M-A motherboard. It uses the microATX form factor, measuring 8.9 x 6.7 inches (226 x 170 mm).
Figure 1: ASUS AM1M-A motherboard
Socket AM1 processors have four PCI Express 2.0 lanes reserved for an external video card, and another four PCI Express 2.0 lanes for other devices (one of them for use with an Ethernet controller).
The ASUS AM1M-A comes with one PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot (working at x4) and two PCI Express 2.0 x1 slots, as shown in Figure 2.
[nextpage title=”Memory Support”]
AMD socket AM1 processors have an embedded memory controller, meaning that it is the processor, not the chipset, which defines what memory technologies you can have and the maximum amount of memory that is possible. The motherboard, however, may have a limitation as to how much memory can be installed.
The integrated memory controller from socket AM1 processors officially supports DDR3 memories up to 1,333 MHz or 1,600 MHz, depending on the model. According to ASUS, the AM1M-A supports memories up to 1,866 MHz.
AM1 processors do not support dual-channel memory access, which means the memory is accesses through a 64-bit bus.
The ASUS AM1M-A has two memory sockets and you can have up to 32 GiB with this motherboard if you use two 16 GiB modules.
[nextpage title=”On Board Peripherals”]
As we mentioned before, on the AM1 platform, the chipset is embbeded in the processor, and therefore there is no chipset on the motherboard. AMD AM1 processors support two SATA-600 ports (no RAID support).
The AM1M-A offers only those two SATA-600 ports, as shown in Figure 4.
The existing AM1 processors supports eight USB 2.0 ports and two USB 3.0 ports. Four of the USB 2.0 ports are soldered on the rear panel, and the other four are available through two headers located on the motherboard. The ASUS AM1M-A supports four USB 3.0 ports, two on the motherboard’s rear panel (controlled by an ASMedia ASM1042 chip) and two available on a connector on the motherboard (controlled by the processor).
The ASUS AM1M-A does not support FireWire or Thurnderbolt ports.
This motherboard supports 7.1 audio format using a Realtek ALC887 codec. This codec has the same specifications as the Realtek ALC892, except that the ALC892 has two extra channels for audio streaming. The main specifications of this codec include 97 dB signal-to-noise ratio for the analog outputs, 90 dB signal-to-noise ratio for the analog inputs, and up to 192 kHz sampling rate for both inputs and outputs, with 24-bit resolution. These specs are good for the mainstream user, but if you are looking into working professionally with audio editing, you should look for a motherboard that provides an SNR of at least 97 dB for the analog inputs.
The analog outputs are shared, meaning that if you want to use a 5.1 analog speaker set (7.1 audio is only available if you install a front panel HD audio module), you will have to use the “Line In” and “Mic In” jacks, and they won’t be available for their original uses. The motherboard doesn’t have optical or coaxial SPDIF outputs. Those drawbacks disqualify the AM1M-A for HTPC applications.
The portrayed motherboard has one Gigabit Ethernet port, controlled by a Realtek RTL8111GR chip.
In Figure 5, you can see the motherboard rear panel, with a shared PS/2 connector for keyboard or mouse, four USB 2.0 ports, one HDMI output, one VGA output, one DVI-D output, two USB 3.0 ports, one Gigabit Ethernet port, and the analog audio jacks.
Figure 5: motherboard rear panel
Figure 6 shows the accessories that come with the motherboard.
[nextpage title=”Voltage Regulator”]
The CPU voltage regulator circuit of the ASUS AM1M-A has two phases for the CPU. The voltage regulator is controlled by an ASUS DIGI+ ASP1106 chip, using a digital design. Each phase uses two PSMN1R6-30BL (“6030DLB”) MOSFETs.
Figure 7: Voltage regulator circuit
The ASUS AM1M-A uses solid electrolytic capacitors with a 5,000-hour life-span, twice the amount presented by regular solid capacitors. All coils on this motherboard are ferrite-core models.
If you want to learn more about the voltage regulator circuit, please read our tutorial on the subject.
[nextpage title=”Overclocking Options”]
The portrayed motherboard has some overclocking options. Below, we list the most important ones (0303 BIOS):
- CPU Base Clock: from 90.00 MHz to 300.00 MHz in 1 MHz increments
- CPU Core Voltage offset: from -0.400 V to +0.400 V in 0.00625 V increments
- VDDNB Voltage offset: from 0.0500 V to +0.500 V in 0.00625 V increments
- Memory Voltage: from 1.350 V to 1.700 V in 0.050 V increments
- 1.8 V Voltage: from 1.80 V to 2.00 V in 0.2 V increments
- PCI Express 0.95 V Voltage: from 0.95 V to 1.10 V in 0.15 V increments
Figure 8: overclocking options
Figure 9: memory timings adjusts
[nextpage title=”Main Specifications”]
The main specifications for the ASUS AM1M-A include:
- Socket: AM1
- Chipset: integrated in the processor
- Super I/O: ITE IT8623E
- Parallel ATA: none
- Serial ATA: two SATA-600 ports controlled by the processor
- External SATA: none
- USB 2.0: eight USB 2.0 ports, four on the motherboard real panel and four available through two headers on the motherboard
- USB 3.0: four USB 3.0 ports, two on the motherboard rear panel (controlled by one ASMedia ASM1042 chip) and two available through a header on the motherboard, controlled by the processor
- FireWire (IEEE 1394): none
- Thunderbolt: none
- On-board video: yes, produced by the processor, VGA, HDMI, and DVI-D outputs
- On-board audio: produced by the processor together with a Realtek ALC887 codec (7.1 channels, 24-bit resolution, 192 kHz sampling rate, 97 dB SNR for the outputs, and 90 dB SNR for the inputs)
- On-board LAN: one Gigabit Ethernet port controlled by a Realtek 8111GR chip
- Wireless LAN: no
- Buzzer: no
- Infrared interface: no
- Power supply required: ATX12V
- Slots: one PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot (working at x4) and two PCI Express 2.0 x1 slots
- Memory: two DDR3-DIMM sockets (up to DDR3-1866, 32 GiB maximum)
- Fan connectors: one four-pin connectors for the CPU cooler, and one four-pin connectors for an auxiliary fan
- Extra features: none
- Number of CDs/DVDs provided: one
- Programs included: motherboard utilities
- More Information: https://www.asus.com
- Average price in the U.S.*: USD 38.00
* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this article.
The ASUS AM1M-A is a simple and inexpensive motherboard. It is almost surreal to see a motherboard that costs less than 40 bucks, and if you take into account that a Sempron 2650 processor to pair with it also costs less than 40 dollars, it means you must consider this motherboard if you intend to build a computer as inexpensive as possible.
And the AM1M-A is not completely simple: it brings two extra USB 3.0 ports, which can be very useful.
The AM1 platform from AMD is designed to be inexpensive, and it is. And the AM1M-A is a nice motherboard to build a low-TDP, low-cost computer.
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