The new WoWbox has arrived. My guide on building a new AMD Fusion E-350 nettop that runs the hell out of WoW.

Posted: March 2, 2011 by ryanlecocq in Technology

Let me begin first things with a disclaimer:  The A-350 Fusion APU (CPU/GPU are one chip with multiple cores) is not a gaming board.  Sure it will run WoW amazing, as well as Fallout 3 and other 2008 era games.  It will also run any Sims game or other low spec games, but you aren’t buying a machine for future Call of Duty games for under $300.  What you are getting is a machine that will run WoW at high settings and resolution to look great on your HDTV.  Oh and it will also run any HD movie perfectly, so it’s not like you aren’t getting the best possible Nettop money can buy for less than any competition can offer.

Now there’s an E-450 that’s a little faster out there.  Same 6310 GPU built in.  I’ll list the differences.

Here’s the specs:

1.6ghz Dual core CPU (1.65GHz on the E-450)

492mhz HD6310 GPU, shares 256MB memory at same speed as CPU @1066MHz or 1333MHz with the built in mobo OC.  (E-450 supports up to 1333MHz ram w/o OC, 600MHz GPU speed in Turbo mode).

The rest doesn’t matter, wifi, 4 SATAs, 2 ram banks up to 32gb 1333mhz yada yada.

The reason you can max WoW on this setup is because it’s a DX11 GPU.  Even though the specs would only run the game at mid settings under windows XP with DX9, you turn that knob up to 11 and you’ll find those shadows no longer kill your frames.

Here’s what to buy:  (the motherboard)

An HTPC case:

Don’t bother upgrading the power supply, the board only draws 30 watts.

Whatever amount of DDR3 RAM you want as cheap as you can get it.

You will need a laptop HDD which I’m assuming you already have or it will be an extra $30-40 minimum to order one.

The cases come with USB and card readers, so you don’t need a disc drive, but you can always order a cheap one to throw in for $20-35.

Altogether this should put you at about $200 if you already had any old laptop HDD kicking around and about $250 if you decided to buy a new small one and also add a DVD drive.  You also need to install Windows if you want to play WoW, but most people have a version somewhere.  Oh yeah and the board has a PCI-e slot too, so if you ever feel like buying a new GPU, you can fit a low profile one.  It’s limited to 8x, but at PCI-e 2.1 rating, so still very fast and efficient.

  1. lagunawsu2 says:

    As someone who started on WoW with a 64mb graphics card, I appreciate this more than you know. That doesn’t beat Aelrin, however, who originally begin with a 32 mb card and 256 mb of SDRAM (the old, awful shit.) we then went to a computer store to upgrade his ram (so he could see more than 5 feet in front of him.) and were informed that to upgrade to 512 mb of RAM would be $50 and they would have to order the part special. Ah memories.

    • ryanlecocq says:

      You remember my first Acer laptop I ran WoW with? Back before I knew jack shit about computers. It had intel integrated graphics and 512 RAM. Man those days were bad. I also played FFXI on that eMachines with a Celeron processor. Man it took me the longest time to figure out that my graphics card kept crashing because I needed a bigger power supply. Ahh the path to knowledge.

  2. iGmO says:

    I am building this system with 4GB of RAM and no seperate video card, I will also be using it as a HTPC. I will report back on how WoW looks on my 50in Plasma HDTV (1080P).

    • ryanlecocq says:

      I’ve already built one at this point and tested it. It performs comparable to a Core2Duo notebook at around 2.0ghz with a mobile gaming GPU. I was getting between 40-60 frames at pretty decent settings. Unfortunately the drivers for the nettop version are cruddy at the moment in DX11. The thing to do is get the notebook versions at the moment from ATi’s site. Overall though, this system performs way above what you would expect from something at that speed. Run Mythos maxed, just tested with Rift and it runs very well at mid-range settings.

      TAKE NOTE: If you play WoW in 1920×1080 you will have to run with lower settings to keep the same frames. The 6310 is still a mobile GPU and suffers from huge amounts of pixels onscreen at once. I would say run in 720p with 4x anti-aliasing so you can keep the shiny stuff on.

      • ryanlecocq says:

        Oh and actually, I’m playing on a 1080p plasma as well and I only needed 2x anti-aliasing in 720p to make it look good. Plasmas already clean up the image a lot. Definitely best results at 720p though. At 1080p I had to turn setting down to low-fair to maintain high framerates.

  3. iGmO says:

    This system does indeed play the hell out of WoW. I used a different Chassis that was locally available (at Frys), I had 2 hard drives I wanted to install and I wanted room to add a full height video card in the future. I also removed the heatsink and added Arctic Silver 5 to the proc.

    Currently I am NOT running any extra video card, I have 4GB of RAM. I also chose to outfit my player with a Blu-Ray Burner. I am mainly running Media Browser on it with a few things I have ripped to my hard drive. It plays High-Def videos from the hard drive without flaw, it also plays Blu-Rays from Disc extremely well.

    As far as WoW goes, the performance is more then acceptable at 720p. At 1080p the frame rates were pretty much unacceptable without turning off tons of the features. 720p looks and feels much better on this box.

    The colors and framerates look beautiful on my television. I have been playing wow on a Dell latitude D630 for the past 3 years exclusively. Sitting back on my couch and playing with my Wireless Keyboard/Mouse has been a great experience.

    Thanks for selling me on the idea of using an AMD Fusion MoBo for this project!
    Very cheap for what you get out of it.

  4. iGmO says:

    Ah of Course I should add. I am not overclocking ANYTHING and I have addded no extra cooling to the chassis other then the Proc fan and the fan enclosed within the power supply. It runs well enough without these additions.

    • ryanlecocq says:

      You aren’t going to run into any heat problems. The max power draw is only 40 watts, so even in Albuquerque, NM where it gets a lot warmer than the standard 65 degrees inside a house, it stays cool.

      I also upgraded my units to Blu-Ray media servers with wireless N+ and Bluetooth 2.0+EDR. One overclock that is allowed in the BIOS is a RAM clock up to 1333mhz from 1066Mhz. The bus is 1333, but the RAM is limited to 1066 stock, a simple change in the bios will fix this and overclock the RAM without affecting the CPU speed. Since the graphics use that RAM too, it’s worth it for the small increase. No risk of stability problems either.

      Thanks for reading iGmO, glad my guide saved you money on your media system/WoWbox.

      • iGmO says:

        Both of my Hard Drives that I have installed are 3.5inches and the case is pretty full. It also sits in a cabinet that has a door on it 😛 . The system is very quiet even when I am sitting right up next to it. I probably ought to put CPU-Temp on there and see what it’s showing me. I’d rather worry about heat now then before it becomes too late.

        I have a 220W PSU, a Blu-Ray Burner, and 2 3.5in Sata drives in this box. I know that adding a video card will probably entail an upgrade to the PSU as well.

        I didn’t add any Wireless capability to my HTPC, with the location it is in, my router is less then a foot away, I just cabled that bad boy.

        Thanks for the suggestion on tinkering with the RAM speed in the BIOS, I will take a look at that later on tonight.

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