ECS A790GXM-AD3 Reviewd3bruts1d , ajmatson - May 10, 2009
The ECS A790GXM-AD3 uses the same color scheme as other "Black Series" motherboards. The biggest difference I noticed about this board was the massive amount of copper used to aid in cooling, which we will take a better look at below. The board is a brown color, however, I would have liked to have seen a black PCB to go along with the series of the board. With the amount of cases with windows these days, appearance is everything when showing off your rig. There is a lot of real estate on the board but I am concerned about how tight everything is at the top of the board. The ECS 790GXM-AD3 is based off of the 790GX/SB750 chipset and supports both CrossFire and Hybrid CrossFireX with the integrated HD 3300 graphics and onboard video memory buffer.
The back panel offers a whole lot of connections to get you up and running with minimal fuss. Starting from the top there is a PS/2 mouse and keyboard port, a clear CMOS button, a VGA port, an HDMI port, six USB 2.0 ports, an eSATA port, one LAN port, and the audio ports which supports 8 channel HD audio and SPDIF. A few things of note is the inclusion of an eSATA port is almost necessary with external storage having high capacities these days, so it is nice to see ECS keeping up with current and future technology. Also I was very impressed to see the clear CMOS button on the back of the computer, as it really annoys me having to open up my case or keep it open during testing just to clear the CMOS on a failed overclock. It was so much easier just to reach up and press the button. Kudos ECS.
With the fierceness of games these days a minimum of two graphics cards slots are a necessity. The ECS A790GXM-AD3 has two PCI Express x16 slots which support both CrossFire and Hybrid CrossFireX with the onboard ATI HD 3300 graphics. There are also two PCI Express X1 slots and two legacy PCI slots for additional expansion card such as networking, audio, and more.
The CPU area is quite crammed full of hardware. There are the heatsinks for the Northbridge and VRM, as well as the CPU retention bracket and memory slots, all pushed up together. What is nice about the A790GXM-AD3 however, is for two sticks in dual channel you use the outer slots, the yellow ones, so you have more room if you have a large heatsink. I did not have any problems with my RAM in the first slot and the AMD stock heatsink. Speaking of memory, this board supports up to 32GB of DDR3 1333MHz in the four DIMM slots. Since this is an AM3 motherboard, it supports only Socket AM3 processors, which are currently the Phenom II AM3 line with up to 140w TDP. The system uses HyperTransport 3.0 for increased bandwidth up to 5200 mega-transfers a second.
The headers, just like the back panel, are plenty. Starting from the left there is the front audio, an SPDIF header, three USB 2.0 headers, and IDE port, the front panel headers, a speaker header, and six SATA ports. Next to the SATA ports there is also a power and reset button, which makes working inside your case a lot easier. I was surprised not to see at least a firewire header on this board so if you have devices that require it, you will need an expansion card should you go with this model.
To keep the A790GXM-AD3 cool while operating, ECS has placed a large amount of copper in their heatsinks. The weight of the board is mostly because of the heatsinks. There is one over the voltage regulators, one over the Northbridge to cool the NB and the Sideport memory, and one over the Southbridge.
Now we have seen the board in all of its glory, let's move on to the software side of it.