ECS A85F2-A Golden Reviewformerstaff -
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ECS A85F2-A Golden Conclusion:
When AMD rolled out the A85X chipset, it really made it clear that this was a product that could stretch the bounds of more than one user segment. The Trinity platform has proved to be the most versatile and upgradeable platform on the market stretching into the 'enthusiast on a budget' and so far having my hands on four of the boards from this group, they have been spot on in the effort. It seems that ECS Elite Group has really put the effort into attracting the latter mentioned market by taking a $125 motherboard and giving it the royal golden treatment starting with retail packaging more befitting a $300 motherboard, and the gold contacts and accents to match. Lest you think that all the bling is all show and no go, think again. ECS has equipped the A85F2-A Golden with all Japanese solid capacitors and Hyper alloy chokes for CPU capability up to 140W. ECS also touts support for 2600MHz overclocked RAM and a 50 °C burn in test making it ready and aimed at gamers.
The M.I.B.X. or Motherboard Intelligent BIOS X is referred to as a 'friendly' BIOS and that translate into a bit simpler than some of the other A85X BIOS on the market, but that does not mean lacking. The Golden's BIOS gets the job done, it just does not have all the bells and whistles it could or the additional adjustments found with a board equipped with digital power. I for one was very surprised when it produced not only a high overclock both of the CPU and the IGP of the current Trinity flagship A10-5800K, but with an analog power delivery and without the benefit of any kind of LLC or load line calibration/control. The A85F2-A traded blows with the other high end names in the testing done here and handled it like a champ with no heat problems or glitches.
Everything else is what you would expect from the A85X chipset. The four monitor outs, eight channel THX sound quality, and the ability to ramp up the graphics to ridiculous levels or just to cover your needs with the great onboard graphics of the A10 APU. Not to forget the really insane level of SATA support previously found on motherboards of twice the price.
Then there is the gold treatment. If you think I am overemphasizing it, I don't think that is possible. ECS has gone all out with the 'Golden' name to make this version of the top chipset for your Trinity APU a distinctive board. The gold is not just for gawking at through your side window. It's all over the major contacts of the board including the 240 contact points your memory modules are nested in, as well as the PCIe slots and the CPU pin contacts. ECS goes to great length to tell you about the superior contact and transfer the gold makes as well as the cooling effect it has at crucial points around the board. And while gold contacts are nothing new to motherboards or indeed electronic component contact points, ECS is stating that it's using three times the amount of gold than other manufacturers are.
ECS Elite Group also managed to keep the board from going over the top in the looks department. Unlike some boards that overdo it with the theme to point where it looks like everything is a bolt-on kit or an afterthought (like a ground effects package and a gargantuan spoiler on a Yugo), the accents are tasteful and a bit reserved, actually.
Once again, another impressive incarnation of the A85X chipset that should be on your tire kicking list if you are looking at this terrific platform.
- Upgradeable to the extreme
- Tasteful gold accenting
- Three gold contact points
- Good overclocking abilities.
- Run three monitors from the board (with four ports)
- Rear I/O placed Clear CMOS button
- Power saving features
- Runs cool
- Overall feature set
- Seven SATA ports with RAID support