ECS A85F2-A Golden Review

formerstaff - 2012-11-20 13:24:38 in Motherboards
Category: Motherboards
Reviewed by: formerstaff   
Reviewed on: February 12, 2013
Price: $126.99

ECS A85F2-A Golden Introduction:

In September AMD released the Trinity platform consisting of the A-Series APU and the Hudson D4 FCH or Fusion Control Hub. In doing so it reset the bar for price/performance and platform versatility. The Trinity platform is seemingly making inroads with the enthusiast crowd. What impressed me so much about the Trinity platform was that it combines some evolutionary components such as the second generation Vishera quad-core computing power with the revolutionary on-die graphics capabilities that have no peer in the industry. AMD has taken this base of capability and capacity to afford options that have all areas of computing covered, and let the user decide how and when to exploit them. Today I have one company's flavor of the A85X (D4 Hudson) chipset. I have taken an in-depth look at two spins of the chipset so far and they have been fantastic. Let's see if ECS Elite Group can keep the streak going as we bring the heat down on the ECS A85F2-A Golden - emphasis on the Golden.

ECS EliteGroup is located in Taipei Neihu Technology Park and was established in 1987. It's a manufacturer of not only motherboards but notebooks, graphic cards, and a host of mobile devices. ECS over the years has been first to market with many products including the first dual processor Pentium motherboard in 1996 and the first 64-bit motherboard in 1992. In 2002, ECS surpassed the two million unit-per-month milestone in motherboard sales. So grab your sunglasses and curb feelers and have a look with me at the ECS A85F2-A Golden.

ECS A85F2-A Golden Closer Look:

If you like a big box you're in luck. The A85F2-A Golden is a $130 motherboard, however it is packaged like a $350 motherboard.The name of the game is gold and it is everywhere. The retail box is completely covered in reflective gold foil. Both the front and back are covered with Velcro flaps that reveal a window on the front and extensive product information on the back. Much of the information spells out the virtues of gold around the board. The packaging tells us that internally there is gold on the CPU socket pins, memory sockets, and PCIe slots. Externally, to create the bling factor, there are 'gold' plated capacitors, chokes, and heat sinks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inside the front flap is a pictorial of the ECS 'Gold 4 Ever' philosophy. Fifteen micron gold plating for connectivity and conductivity on the inside, and gold color plating on the exterior for showing off in the side window.

 

 

 

Under the front flap we get the first look at the motherboard and get an idea of how all this gold is laid down. Underneath the board the items in the bundle reveal themselves. While the accessory bundle is rather basic like I have seen so far with other X85 motherboards, the ECS Golden does come with seven SATA cables, which is great to see. Other items include a rear I/O panel (gold plated, of course), a full manual, a driver and programs disc, and an illustrated startup chart.

 

 

 

Time to take a trip around the board and ferret out the features of the Golden and see if it's worth its weight.

ECS A85F2-A Golden Closer Look:

The A85F2-A Golden is a two tone affair of black and gold only. The PCB is genuinely black and not the dark brown some of the "black" boards have adopted. This is good news for anyone who wants to light it up with a side window. I was expecting the gold plated capacitors, inductors, and heat sinks (anodized) to look a bit more overpowering than they do, however the gold accents around the board turned out to be a very nice accoutrement to the backdrop of the black PCB.

The FM2 socket is the updated generation to last year's FM1 Llano APU series. While this generation replaces those, the Trinity FM2 A-Series APUs are not backwards compatible with the FM1 APUs. This breaks a tradition of AMD sockets being compatible for more than one generation, however the first generation Athlon-based APUs are of a completely different architecture than the Piledriver and GCN-based Trinity APUs. The A85X or Hudson D4 Fusion Control Hub (FCH) is the top of the food chain for the FM2/Vishera based APUs. The A85X is the big brother to the A55 and A75 FM2 chipsets that boast less features. If this platform tickles your fancy and you are looking to save money, beware that the FM1 APUs also have an A75 chipset that is not compatible with the FM2 Vishera based APUs.

The ECS A85F2-A Golden is a standard ATX form factor measuring 12" x 8.66". On the back of the board there is the standard stamped steel backplate for securing and reinforcing an aftermarket heat sink. Like the other A85X boards we have looked at so far, the ECS Golden is wrought with features we will have a look at, starting now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The back panel connectivity is loaded for a motherboard of this range. You have two USB 2.0 ports, four USB 3.0 ports, one eSATA 6Gb/s port, one D-sub (VGA) port, one DVI port, one HDMI port, one DisplayPort, one RJ45 LAN connector, six audio jacks (one Line in, three Line out, one microphone, and one optical out), and lastly one Clear_CMOS button. One of the great and unique features is in the four video outs (DVI, VGA, HDMI, and Display Port) that ECS has dubbed '4most Disply'. From these you can run three monitors in Eyefinity from the motherboard and on-die graphics of the A-Series APU. A truly great feature for low cost gaming and productivity.

On the other side you have the discrete option, from a single AMD video card to dual, triple, or even quad-Crossfire. It's one of the great features that makes the A-Series and the A85X D4 Hudson Fusion Controller Hub such a versatile machine. The two full length PCIe slots are mechanically x16 2.0. When running Crossfire the second slot runs electrically at x8 2.0. They are triple spaced, which aids in cooling a dual card Crossfire setup, or for the use of one of the many triple slot video cards with the monster coolers. In between there are a pair of PCIe x1 slots for the latest audio cards, and at the bottom a pair of legacy PCI slots for any older drives/devices you may migrate from a previous build. The layout is common to all of the A85X boards I have seen thus far and is very well thought out. If you decide to go with two discrete VGAs you can still place an audio card between them (save the use of the aforementioned triple slot video cards). 

 

 

Starting along the bottom of the board is where the majority of the front panel connectivity is located. From left to right is the front panel audio header, the COM onboard serial port header, the S/PDIF out, and the speaker header. To the right are a pair of fan headers for system fan and power cooling. The 20-pin front panel USB 3.0 connector is next followed by a pair of USB 2.0 headers surrounding the onboard clear CMOS jumper pin.On the far right bottom is another USB 2.0 header supporting the EZ Charger feature of the ECS A85F2-A Golden.

 

 

Surrounded by gold plated solid capacitors, hyper alloy chokes, and golden anodized heatsinks we find the seven SATA 6Gb/s ports (plus one eSATA) all supported by the AMD A85X FCH and capable of RAID0, RAID1, RAID5, and RAID 10 configurations. They are arranged in such a way as to not cause any interference problems should you decide to take full advantage of the graphic interfaces and fill it up. To the left arranged vertically up the right side are the front panel switch, LED, and reset header. To the right is the 24-pin ATX main board power connector. Up the right a bit farther we come to the four, dual channel 240-pin DDR3 memory slots. While the native support for the memory is 1866MHz, ECS boasts support for up to 2600MHz overclocked RAM. The A85F2-A Golden supports 64GB of system dual channel memory when 16GB modules are fully available and support speeds of 1333/1600/1866/2133(OC)/2400(OC)/2600(OC). Those DIMMs in the bottom pictuire all have a 15 micron golden plating on the 240 contact points for greater transfer. Not only is the gold plating thicker, but it also creates additional contact area on the pin contact points.

 

 

Up to the top of the board we find another fan header and the CPU 8-pin power connector, and of course more gold bathed components that are treated to be even more oxidation resistant. I will get into this in depth in a moment. In the center of all this is the familiar FM2 socket with the rectangle cutout in the center and the lever actuated tension plate.

 

 

If you hold the retail packaging at the right angle in a room with a 60 watt bulb you can be temporarily blinded. The extensive dual flapped and windowed box is completely covered in literature extolling the virtues of the value of gold, both electronically and aesthetically. In short, the 'Golden' aspect is a huge feature of the A85F2-A Golden. ECS is betting that you are going to like to have a bit of bling on the other side of the window in your case. I have to say, what I first thought was going to be on the gaudy side is actually tastefully done. ECS pulled the golden touches back so the gold plating becomes an accoutrement rather than a blinding distraction. The chokes here are all what ECS is calling 'Hyper alloy'; basically it is a very high grade of metal that goes into the fabrication of the choke. The usual Ferrite iron core is replaced by what ECS claims is a much more efficient alloy core that provides everything from better EMS filtering to lower temperatures to the ability to conduct more energy; ostensibly for more stable and higher overclocking. What I have not been able to ferret out is if this Hyper Alloy involves the core only or the core and wire winding.  

 

Set against a very nice high gloss jet black PCB, the gold plated chokes/inductors, I/O enclosures, and anodized heat sinks reflect each other adding a very polished look to the board. The tops of the inductors have a deliberately rough surface that is gold plated and produces a rather cool effect. When viewing them from off center, they take on a black shadow appearance that appears and disappears depending on your vantage point.  ECS has plated most of the critical contact points on the A85F2-A. So besides gaining the distinctive look from all this Au plating, you also get the benefit of gold being one of the most conductive (both electrically and thermally) of the practical metals for superior heat dissipation and electrical transfer.

If you look closely you can count out the 4+1 power phase delivery; four phases for the CPU and one phase for the system memory. I am wondering how much of a factor this lower phase design will effect overclocking, if at all, compared to boards with the higher 6+2/8+2/8+2+2 phasing. The lower phased boards are not as worrisome to the overclocker as they were a couple years ago due to capacitor and MOSFET advancement in design and materials. I must admit though, putting the screws to a board with less than six phases still provokes a visceral pang about blowing things up. 

 

 

 

The ECS Golden certainly has looks and high quality components going for it. Let's have a look at the BIOS and utilities and see what the software brings to the A85X lineup.

ECS A85F2-A Golden Closer Look:

The ECS Utility software suite is dubbed 'Intelligent EZ Utility'. It is a suite of simple but effective software designed to make adjusting everything from energy efficiency to overclocking hospitable in Windows.

First up is eSF Smart Fan. Split into five modes, eSF is a way to customize fan profiles according to preference and/or load and temperature conditions on the fly without entering the BIOS. EDLU is a semi-automated way to make sure your system is equipped with the latest or most prefered drivers. Once initiated it searches for current drivers and lists them giving you a choice. Once you decide to install or replace a driver, eDLU will automatically download and install them for you. I have never been a huge fan of automatic driver install, however, I did try this program and it worked flawlessly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EBLU is the name given to the ECS auto BIOS update in Windows. I also tried this utility and it worked flawlessly. I have never been a big proponent of updating the BIOS live from a website but having said that, it has become at least a bit more safe with the common dual BIOS and overwriting features of today. I still believe in the flash drive method, but if updating this way really racks your nerves, it's nice to have an easy solution like this at hand.

EOC is ECS's Windows overclock utility. It is not nearly as in-depth as BIOS overclocking, but for on-the-fly simple OC'ing and voltage adjustment it works well. EOC gives you the option to load the program on startup alone or automatically enforce a saved OC profile. Included in eOC is a monitor tab that displays basic system temperatures, voltages, and fan speeds.

 

 

All in all, ECS' software suite is simple and to the point. I have tried all of the utilities above and they all seemed to apply settings accurately and show on the spot values when reporting voltages and temperatures. Up next is a look at the ECS A85F2-A Golden BIOS.

ECS A85F2-A Golden Closer Look:

ECS Elite Group uses its implementation of the modern BIOS named 'EZ' BIOS. EZ BIOS is a graphic interface BIOS that has both a very simplified mode and a more advanced mode for the enthusiast. In Easy mode you have a one page look at the current settings and the ability to make changes amongst four basic modes: Normal, Performance, Power, and Quiet. Along the bottom of the screen you can drop and drag the various bootable drives into the sequence you want and be done with things after a check of basic voltages and fan speeds.To enter the Advanced version of EZ BIOS you simply click the green advanced tab to reveal the expanded and more versatile version. My apologies in advance for the images of the BIOS here. The ECS BIOS does not have a screen capture feature and for some reason it was extraordinarily hard to photograph.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Under the Main tab you will find the basic system CMOS functions of system time, date, and language.

 

 

The Advanced tab gives you a look at basic CPU configuration including CPU model with graphics core and stock frequency. You also get a listing of all of the cache levels and capacities. For those new to the Trinity A-Series APUs, the "no L3 Cache present" is not a mistake. The Trinity is an L3-less version of the Piledriver core. Below this are the adjustments for the AMD power saving features including C6, Turbo Core, and AMD Cool & Quiet. Also under advanced are adjustments for the serial port I/O configuration. The advanced tab is also where you set up your SATA configuration for either SATA. IDE, or RAID as well as checking on all detected drives.

 

 

Under the Chipset tab are the Northbridge and Southbridge adjustments. Here you have the ability to adjust the IGD memory manually and the graphics adapter initialization.

 

For those wanting to squeeze out maximum performance from their A-Series APU, the M.B.I.X. (Motherboard Intelligent BIOS X) tab is where the fun begins. Under M.B.I.X. is where you find the vast majority of the unlocking, under/overvolting, and re-timing settings and submenus. At the top of the menu is the core clock multiplier and memory clock. Under this you can leave the BIOS to manually set the memory clock and open up the manual timings and sub-timings. The bottom third of the menu is the adjustments for over/under volting for both the CPU, FCH, and the memory.

 

The Boot portion of the BIOS has all the options you need to choose and manipulate your bootable drives into the order you want them in. At the top of the menu you can change the OS the system boots to for those with dual Operating Systems. At the bottom of the menu are the options for the hard drive boot priorities as well as the optical drives.

 

The Security tab lets you setup administrator and user passwords. You can also set up a secure boot state, disable it, or set a custom boot state.

 

The Exit tab has all of the options for saving or disregarding changes before exiting. Here you can restore user defaults as well as save them. You can also do a Boot override of your devices and return to EZ mode if you wish.

 

The A85F2-A BIOS is a bit more simple than the last few A85X boards I have had a look at. This is partly due to the ECS board not being equipped with digital power, which adds a fair bit more options to the menu. It is, however, effective and very intuitive for most users and I had a good experience using it.

ECS A85F2-A Golden Specifications:

 

CPU
• Socket FM2 for AMD TRINITY processors
• Supports CPU up to 125W TDP
Note: Please go to ECS website for the latest CPU support list.
Chipset
              • AMD A85X
Memory
              • Dual-channel DDR3 memory architecture
              • 4 x 240-pin DDR3 DIMM sockets support up to 64 GB
              • Supports DDR3 2600(OC)/2133(OC)/1866/1600/1333 MHz
                 DDR3 SDRAM
             Note: Please go to ECS website for the latest Memory support list.
Expansion
Slots
              • 2 x PCI Express x16 Gen2 slots (The PCIEX16_S runs at x8)
              • 3 x PCI Express x1 Gen2 slots
              • 2 x PCI slots
Storage
              • Supported by AMD A85X
              • 7 x Serial ATA 6.0 Gb/s Host Controllers
              • RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 10 Configuration
Storage
              • Supported by AMD A85X
              • 7 x Serial ATA 6.0 Gb/s Host Controllers
              • RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 10 Configuration
Audio
              • VIA VT1819 8-ch High Definition audio CODEC
              • Compliant with HD audio specification
LAN
              • Realtek RTL8111E Gigabit LAN
Rear Panel I/O
              • 1 x D-Sub port (VGA)
              • 1 x DVI port
              • 1 x DP port
              • 1 x HDMI port
              • 1 x Clear CMOS Button
              • 2 x USB 2.0 ports & 4 x USB 3.0 ports
              • 1 x eSATA 3.0 connector
              • 1 x RJ45 LAN connector
              • 1 x Optical SPIDIFO port
             • 1 x Audio port (Line in, Line out, Mic_in Rear)
Internal I/O
Connectors &
Headers
             • 1 x 24-pin ATX Power Supply connector
             • 1 x 8-pin 12V Power connector
             • 1 x 4-pin CPU_FAN connector
             • 1 x 3-pin SYS_FAN connector
             • 1 x 3-pin PWR_FAN connector
             • 3 x USB 2.0 headers support additional six USB 2.0 ports
                --F_USB1(EZ) supports EZ Charger
             • 1 x USB 3.0 header supports additional two USB 3.0 ports
             • 7 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
             • 1 x COM header
             • 1 x Front Panel audio header
             • 1 x Front Panel switch/LED header
             • 1 x Speaker header
             • 1 x SPDIF out header
             • 1 x CLR_CMOS header
System BIOS
• AMI BIOS with 64Mb SPI Flash ROM
• Supports Plug and Play
• Supports ACPI & DMI
• Supports STR(S3)/STD(S4)
• Supports OC adjustment
• Supports Hardware monitor
• Audio, LAN, can be disabled in BIOS
• F7 hot key for boot up devices option
• Supports Over-Clocking
• Supports Four Display
• Supports GUI UEFI
• Supports Multi-Language
Form Factor
• ATX Size, 305mm x 220mm

 

ECS A85F2-A Golden Features:

 

All information provided courtesy of http://www.ecs.com.tw/ECSWebSite/Product/Product_Detail.aspx?DetailID=1426&CategoryID=1&MenuID=154&LanID=9

ECS A85F2-A Golden Testing:

Testing the ECS A85F2-A Golden will involve running it through OCC's test suite of benchmarks, which includes both synthetic benchmarks and real-world applications, to see how each of these products perform. The gaming tests will also consist of both synthetic benchmarks and actual gameplay, in which we can see if similarly prepared setups offer any performance advantages. The system will receive a fully updated, fresh install of Windows 7 Professional 64-bit edition, in addition to the latest drivers for each board and the latest AMD Catalyst drivers for the XFX HD 7970. To ensure as few variables as possible, all hardware will be tested at their stock speeds, timings, voltages, and latencies – unless otherwise stated. Turbo Boost is disabled to make a fair comparison without skewing results.

 

Testing Setup:

 

Comparison Boards:

 

Overclocking:

 

Overclocking the A10-5800K with the A85F2-A was a bit more expeditious than I expected it to be. Knowing the limits of my A10 APU from extensive use, I headed towards 4.7GHz right away and was surprised to get the same OC from it with a motherboard that is not equipped with digital power. This is truly a testament to how far ECS has come with the quality of the components it uses and the board as a whole. I was also able to achieve a 1GHz+ core speed on the graphics core; a move that bumps the 6770D graphics a couple rungs up on the ladder.

 

 

Maximum Overclock:

Each CPU and motherboard has been tested for stability at the clock speeds listed when in an overclocked state. These clock speeds will be used to run the test suite and will show the performance increase over the stock settings in the overclocked scoring.

 

Benchmarks:

Scientific & Data:

  1. PCMark 7
  2. HD Tune 5.0
  3. AIDA64 2.50
  4. Sandra 2012 SP6
  5. x264
  6. HandBrake 9.8
  7. ATTO 2.47

Video:

  1. DiRT 3
  2. Battlefield 3
  3. 3DMark11



 

We have our maximum overclocks, which are evenly matched again. This should provide a good platform to spot any differences between them. Let's go to the benchmarks.

ECS A85F2-A Golden Testing:

PCMark 7 is the latest iteration of Futuremark's popular PCMark system performance tool. This version is designed for use on Windows 7 PCs and features a combination of 25 different workloads to accurately measure the performance of all PCs from laptops to desktops.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not much of a difference here as we would expect from the identical chipsets

ECS A85F2-A Golden Testing:

HD Tune measures disk performance to make comparisons between drives or disk controllers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

  

  

 

AIDA64 Extreme Edition is a software utility designed to be used for hardware diagnosis and benchmarking. I will be using the Queen and FPU Mandel benchmark tool to measure memory performance.

 

  

  

 

The three boards trade spots at the top with little in the way of performance separating them.

ECS A85F2-A Golden Testing:

SiSoft Sandra is a diagnostic utility and synthetic benchmarking program. Sandra allows you to view your hardware at a higher level to be more helpful. For this benchmark, I will be running a broad spectrum of tests to gauge the performance of key functions of the CPUs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overall Score

  

 

X.264 Benchmark: This benchmark is used to measure the time it takes to encode a 1080p video file into the x264 format. The default benchmark is used with an average of all four tests on each pass taken as the result.

  

  

 

 

 

HandBrake 9.8 is an open source application used to transcode multiple video formats to an h.264 output format. The test file size is a 4GB full length movie that is reduced in size to a 1.5GB file.

  

  

 

 

No significant differences here, however the ASUS board has shown a slight lead overall in this battery of tests.

ECS A85F2-A Golden Testing:

Moving data to and from an external device is something we all do as a means of backing up sensitive data whether it is family pictures, movies, music, or projects. The speed with which this transfer occurs is measurable and can improve with different board partner specific tools. I will be using ATTO version 2.47 to measure an external drives read/write performance through the USB 3.0 interface. The default test algorithm is used for this test. Motherboards that support a boost to the USB spec such as USB 3.0 Boost on the ASUS offering and XFast USB on the Asrock will be used as they show the maximum potential speeds.

ATTO:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

  

  

  

 

ASUS' Turbo is the word. The ASUS V Pro has a clear advantage here in transfer times by up to 30% depending on block size.

ECS A85F2-A Golden Testing:

3DMark11 is the next installment for Futuremark in the 3DMark series, with Vantage as its predecessor. 3DMark11 was designed solely for DirectX 11, so Windows Vista or 7 are required alongside a DirectX 11 graphics card in order to run this test. The Basic Edition gives unlimited free tests on performance mode, whereas Vantage only allows for a single test run. The Advanced Edition costs $19.95 and unlocks nearly all features of the benchmark, while the Professional Edition runs for $995.00 and is mainly suited for corporate use. The new benchmark contains six tests, four of which are aimed only at graphical testing – one that tests physics handling and one that combines graphics and physics testing together. The open source Bullet Physics Library is used for physics simulations and although not as mainstream as Havok or PhysX, it still remains a popular choice.

The new benchmark comes with two new demos that can be watched; both of which are based on the tests, but unlike the tests, contain basic audio. The first demo is titled "Deep Sea" and involves a number of vessels exploring what looks to be a sunken U-Boat. The second demo is titled "High Temple" and displays a location similar to South American tribal ruins, with statues and the occasional vehicle. The demos are simple in that they have no story, but really demonstrate testing conditions. The vehicles have the logos of the sponsors, MSI and Antec, on the sides, helping to make the Basic Edition free. The four graphics tests are slight variants of the demos. I will use the three benchmark test preset levels to find the performance of each card. The presets are used because they are comparable to what can be run with the free version, so results can be compared across more than just a custom set of test parameters.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DiRT 3 is the third iteration of this series. Published and developed by Codemasters, this game uses the EGO 2.0 game engine and was released in the US on PC in May of 2011.

Settings

 

 

 

Battlefield 3 is a first-person shooter video game developed by EA Digital Illusions CE and published by Electronic Arts. Battlefield 3 uses the Frostbite 2 game engine and is the direct successor to Battlefield 2. Released in North America on October 25, 2011, the game supports DirectX 10 and 11.

Settings

 

 

 

In each of these gaming tests the ECS A85F2-Golden delivers comparable performance with the same installed hardware. Within a frame or margin of error, the ECS holds its own with the competition.

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.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: