ECS A785GM-AD3 Motherboard Reviewjlqrb - February 1, 2010
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The ECS A785GM-AD3 motherboard, though not a big overclocker or head turner, managed to be stable, fast and include a few features that are an ECS exclusive. The first of these features is the "15μ Gold Contacts" and the other being eJIFFY. The eJIFFY program that comes with the motherboard is a very simple version of a Linux operating system that will allow you to easily surf the net and and do other simple tasks. Best of all is that eJIFFY can be booted into, in as little as ten seconds, so you don't have to wait for wait for Windows to load when you need quick access to the Internet. The other feature is the gold plating, which will hopefully reduce oxidation to improve the life-span of the board, give better reliability and the added gold should also increase the contact made with the CPU and memory. I say 'hopefully', because it would be impossible for me make any real conclusion on how well this feature performs during the course of this review, when the whole point is to add durability to the motherboard, in hopes that it will work for years to come. This is a nice feature that adds a sense of value, in that the money you invested in the motherboard won't be wasted. It however, is not the contacts on the motherboard I am worried about, but rather the lack of solid capacitors throughout most of the motherboard and MOSFETs that have no heatsink attached for better cooling. These could be much bigger issues in regards to the life-span of the motherboard, especially when overclocking is added to the equation. Another issue I ran into was the lack of support for any processor over 95w TDP. This is not a huge issue and there are plenty of AM3 processors that are rated at or below 95w, especially with the new Athlon II and Phenom II processors line being launched. This eliminates AMD's top Quad-Core Phenom II processors from consideration. During the review I was using an AMD 955BE Phenom II processor and managed to get by without any issues, but there is no guarantee that this board could handle the load over long periods of time and if unsupported hardware is used, it could decrease the life-span of the motherboard. Also, there was no overclocking headroom when the AMD 955BE was paired with this board. I assume it has something to do with the TDP ratings, as I could not get the system to post even a very minimal 100MHz overclock. It is not fair to blame the motherboard entirely for this though, as I was using an unsupported processor in the first place. Once I switched the AMD 955BE out for an AMD Sempron 140, overclocking was a breeze and I was able to boot into windows at 3.23GHz up from 2.7Ghz at stock voltage. One very useful feature I found during my failed overclocking attempts with the 955BE, was the 'Clear CMOS' button that is located at the bottom of the motherboard. This button was easily accessible and being able to clear the CMOS with the simple touch of a button saved me a lot of time over the more conventional three-pin system.
When it came to performance, I could not argue with the numbers of the ECS A785GM-AD3 motherboard, which put up decent scores across most of the benchmarks. It was the gaming benchmarks where the ECS motherboard stood out. It seemed that time and time again, it put up a good fight in the lower resolutions showing the gaming performance of the AM3 platform, but it was in the higher resolutions that the ECS A785GM-AD3 really started to shine. This was the case in half of the game benchmarks, with the ECS board placing as one of the top contenders at the highest resolution of 1920x1200. With stellar gaming performance and features that can add enhanced gaming performance to ATI graphics cards, such as Hybrid Graphics, this board could be a good choice for mainstream or budget gamers. Another group of people that could benefit from this motherboard are those that don't game often and don't intend to purchase a graphics card, but at times do enjoy a run around a virtual world and aren't bothered by low resolutions. For this group the impressive ATI HD4200 Integrated graphics found in the 785G chipset would be more than enough gaming power for them to get their 'low-res' game on.
Unfortunately, there is not much here for high-end gamers, as CrossFire is not supported by the A785GM-AD3 and graphics cards with large dual slot coolers will block the top two SATA ports, leaving only the three bottom ports available. Let's face it though - this board is not a high-end model and if issues like these bother you, I am sure you are willing to shell out the extra cash necessary to avoid them. In the end, the ECS A785GM-AD3 did exactly what is supposed to do. It was stable, performed well and had many great features due to the 785G/SB710 chipset combination. During the course of the review, I was not able to find the price that ECS is going to launch the board at, but if it comes in where I think it will (which is good amount under $100), it could be a real bargain. So, If you are someone who is not looking to break the bank and at the same time get the biggest return possible, the ECS A785GM-AD3 motherboard could be a good choice for you.
- 15μ gold contacts
- Integrated ATI HD4200 graphics
- Easily accessible 'clear CMOS' button
- Good overclocking with low wattage CPUs
- Max 95w TDP
- Top SATA ports blocked by large graphics cards
- No MOSFET heatsink
- Not all solid capacitors
- Little overclocking headroom with high wattage CPUs